Stephen Young


pretty colours....

houses taken from high up

i love the sky

this is bad weather

rolling hills

simon, devid and comboni

brothers devid and comboni

the neighbourhood gang...

up on the roof top - the new building we are designing

Things get busy

Everything pretty sweet here. My biggest concern is probably that I'm living too much of the "good life". I would say I'm getting along well with my coworkers (all three of them) and the family - although my limited swahili makes are conversations short and boring to them. That said, I'm trying to learn a little more each day (a verb a day) and Mama Comboni helps me out during breakfast!

So you ask.. "You still staying STRONG and HEALTHY? " .... well...yes and no.. So, I'm trying to eat well, but our meals are primarily spaghetti, rice and potatoes. I mean the meals are really good, but there aren't a lot of vegetables. There are pineapples and oranges which are wicked cheap (300 shillings = 30cents for a pineapple!!!) and so good. I've got a bit of a cold and I'm using organges to combat it. The problem here is that every small feeling of sickness I have makes me think "malaria!" , which is totally not true especially because we have barely been here long enough to develop it.

Joseph has discussed lots of projects with us - some he is already working on and some he wants to start, but it's difficult to start working on something when all you have is high level information. Now that Joseph has returned from his trip to Nairobi he's helped (pushed) us to get started working - which is super cool! Today we wrote up invitations for ICT training courses which Jane and I will be helping to deliver in June. ICT (information and communication technologies) is the favoured buzzword to describe computers, email and the internet. Somehow this doesn't surprise me - travel half way around the world and i'm still working in the world of computers. Hush. The courses are actually really cool and can potentially impact a large portion of Karagwe community! They're being delivered to community groups - medical staff, secondary school teachers, nonprofit organizations, and civil servants. The goal is to enhance the productivity of these key community members in order for them to better serve the community. After the training, we will be hopefully visiting some of the offices, school and hospitals to help people implement the skills we're trying to give them.

In my mind the biggest challenge with this type of training is the "culture of dependence" it may substantiate within the community. John and Joseph are really very compent people in so many different areas. Still, John sometimes asks for my advice on topics he knows better than me. I would say this is 50/50 in my head and real. They really just want to do things as efficiently as possible, but it's weird to have your opinion so respected. Joseph is trying to hype up training by advertising us as "experts from canada" - I don't know how to react to this. His goal is just to encourage people to come, but maybe he's reinforcing the idea that foreign help is necessary.

Another "project" we're doing is construction of a new building for the FADECO compound. Strangely, it seems that Jane and I will be moving into this building if we complete the interior quickly enough. The building will also be the site of computer training and an expanded internet resource centre. Jane and I will be drawing up a plan for the two floors - which are currently just large rooms of concrete. We will also get to help with the purchasing of supplies and hiring of workers. Jane and I both have some reservations about working on a project to create nicer rooms for ourselves - ie. how does this help Dorothy?

Recently, the three hundred (seven) kids who were living with us have returned to boarding school for the term and we won't get to see them again. The kids were hyperactive and some what pushy, but they were still friendly and served as a nice ice-breaking into the family. Jeff, who is 7 going on 15, spoke English and Swahili really well and was really helping me learn! So suffice to say I have mixed feelings about their departure. Actually... there is one left. Daniel, whose real (swahili) name is Comboni. He's still here and as hyperactive and jibberishish as ever.

Sadly, my mum's mother passed away two days ago. She was a wonderful woman and was troubled in her last month by the death of my great uncle. She had ovarian cancer, but as of yet I don't know exactly what caused her death. I will miss her dearly and I regret ever so much not talking to her more this past year. She travelled a great deal with my grandfather and I know she would have liked a postcard from me here in Africa. I wish there was a way to appreciate how final death is without anyone dying. It truly makes you realize how precious your family is. I will try to remember this lesson for the rest of my life.



Pestle and mortar..

Making peanut butter!

The next door neighbours


Honey i shrunk the kids...

John and Sean Paul...

Ellieth and Annastacia after dinner..

Jane being altogether too happy about laundry...

Daniel fixing a computer...


Jane @ the equator

Day six: easy as pie

Turns out it’s a lot like Canada here... only hotter. Once again we enjoyed a lovely dinner today while watching BBC, soccer and music videos. The Sekikus have a TV and get cable from a wealthy nearby family. The TV comes in on a satellite and the family distributes it, at a cost, to the rest of the community. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Speaking of food, I have some wonderful things to say about Tanzania "chakula" - Swahili for food. Mama Elliot prepares three meals each day. Staple for breakfast is white bread, coffee or tea, margarine, home grown honey, and today a special treat of eggs! Staple for lunch is cabbage, spaghetti, beef or goat meat, beans, and sometimes pineapple (oh how I love pineapple!!). Staple for dinner is spaghetti or rice, cabbage or peas, and a goat meat. The meals usually have one or two dishes which contain sauce and a white starch. The sauce found on the meat or sometimes cabbage, is very flavourful, salty and not too spicy. Each meal in itself is a delight.

That said, I do have some unreasonable complaints about my diet - I've developed a disturbing longing for meat and a craving for variety. We have goat or cow at most lunches or dinner, but there isn't much and I feel bad for taking more. Oh well, life goes on. I also fear that the lack of variety will get to me. "Staple, staple, staple" is no exaggeration - truly these are the only foods we've eaten since arriving (plus peanuts, bananas, oranges, soda, and some exotic new beers... okay I lied). True enough, this doesn't really seem like a problem with so many foods, but I fear as the weeks roll on I will slowly go insane. I have my overly varied eating habits to thank for this. I guess this serves to remind me of the abundance of choice we have in Canada - especially with food! Complain all you want, but most of us have it pretty good - Chinese, Italian, idiom, Vietnamese, Japanese, American, Canadian.... so many foods to choose from.

Today was a day of rest. Yes it was Sunday, but we also had very little work to do. We filled the time doing laundry - by hand!... shocking but true! Even with a machine, I have a hard time doing laundry, so you can imagine the difficulty. I started off on my own, using liquid soap and a technique of my own invention. After 10 minutes I obviously wasn't getting anywhere, and needed expert help. John, the ever helpful second-in-command at FADECO, showed me how to make some serious suds and to scrub vigorously using the palm of my hands (think wash board).

After the day's chores, Jane, John, Daniel, and I all went for a pleasant afternoon walk. Once again I am surprised by the hills of Karagwe (and all of Tanzania I am told). Looking in every direction you see lush rolling hills covered with shrubs and scattered houses. Truly there is more green here than I ever imagined. Joseph and John say that the hills are bare compared long ago, before the clear-cutting began. These days, erosion is a serious problem which FADECO's agro-forestry program is targeting. During our walk I tried twice to make purchases. First from a bar where my inquiry was greeted with a long blank stare and then at a roadside stand with a small smile. Asking "bia gani?" means "Which beers?", asking "bei gani?" means "how much?". You can imagine my difficulty.

Apparently I am becoming a football (soccer) fan, because everyday during and after dinner we see a match. Today after a dinner of rice, peas, and beef (okay, it was really good!), we watched Manchester united play South Hampton. I'm told it was very exciting...!

That's all for now… keep it real.

PS. Check out the cool pictures below!


Daniel and his girlfriend Tina.... : )

The Sekiku residence in kayenga

future office building of FADECO

John, Simon, and Daniel

wise words from a primary school in uganda

our guest room in uganda... on route to tanzania

@ the equator

Russ Groves, Director Overseas Operations ( Trainer Extraordinaire)

Huge freakin building in London... (parliment)

Westminster Abbey ( i think...)

Westminster Parliment in London


Daniel's acrobatics

Jane and Steph in a cool london bus!

Jane and Steph in a cool london bus!

Steve and Daniel


Day four draws to a close...

So. I've been here for a few more days and I'm starting to get a better sense of the way things work. Unfortunately a combination of late nights, early mornings, incessant children, and fast spoken Swahili is draining me.

Today we met with our director and friend, Joseph, to discuss a timeline for the summer. It's exciting and scary how much he hopes to accomplish with us this summer. Our discussions are slow moving and meander from topic to topic, but Joseph gets his point across and is careful to stick to a general schedule. We identified general tasks we'll have for the summer: developing computer and soft skills training, designing the layout and curriculum for a vocational training center, and streamlining the operation of Rift Valley Foods (a supporting business venture of FADECO). Exciting but still quite vague...

Joseph's family is really very nice. We live in a compound that contains offices and homes and is currently under construction. This is one of the two places we're living, they other we'll be visiting tomorrow. At each place there is essentially an entire family we live with.

I'm not a stickler for structure and organization, but living and working at the same place with a new set people is difficult. The two staff we work with, Joseph and John, are hard working and enthusiastic - they generally work from before 9 to after 10. Yesterday we had dinner after 11PM. Surprisingly, I don't think the hunger or the long day really tires me, its rather more that we don't fit in yet and there is no easy way for us to escape. The kids come and climb on me while I'm typing... in fact Jeff is here right now! It feels strange to complain about these things. My parents both often work at home, in the evenings, and on weekends. Plus I've got those younger brothers (hello!) and work with children often. Again I think it comes from this new way of life and new language. I guess the similarities only make the difference more stark.

A little more info about FADECO. The organization has been around unofficially since '92 and officially since '95. I would describe Joseph Sekiku as a development entrepreneur - and new blend of business and development (my terminology). His mandate of "sustainable development" has taken on a whole new meaning for me. For example, FADECO has designed and sold solar food dryers to farmers in order to reduce wasted harvest (previously up to 30%). An offshoot of dried food is a new marketable product. Joseph's entrepreneurial skills shine brightly here - he effectively created a entirely new market for dried bananas, mangos, and tomatoes, despite total disbelief from farmers. Literally no one in the Karagwe district sold dried fruit previously. Creating this opportunity gets farmers more bang for their buck from bananas (bbb...). To the point, the is now a viable business... with small profit margins and ad-hoc operations... but still a reliable source of operating income for FADECO.


Day 2 complete

Karagwe, Tanzania - I've moved in with my host family and begun life in Africa. The world here is shockingly different but surprisingly similar. The eldest son of my family has malaria and vomited several times today, blood as well. Afterwards during dinner, we watched CNN and BBC describe the "close call" the White House had with a plane. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

My family's father, Joseph Sekiku, is the founder and director of FADECO ( - which is the organization I'm working with . Although we are still planning the details of my work I will offer the information I have so far. I will be splitting my time between two towns - Kayange and Nyansanki. In Kayange I'll be working and sleeping in a small (3 rooms) home/office where I'll be doing project planning, writing proposals, helping with building and construction, and working with the team to improve a computer training center. In the other city, FADECO is opening a skills training center (vocational training). The center is currently being constructed; started but not finished. Although vague, our role will be in planning the layout of the center as well as equipping the rooms with electricity and supplies. Possibly we'll also influence the design and construction of the building. Our director wants the building to be unique and stand out and he's left this responsibility to us.

Tomorrow we learn about past and present projects FADECO has run. Additionally we'll hammer out the details of our involvement. Determining how we can contribute will be key... I fear Joseph assumes we are more qualified then we truly are. This is scary. Alas, fear leads to action, and action leads to learning, and something eventually leads to success.

Three and a half months doesn't really seem like a long time when you think about it all together. At waterloo we do it all the time. Still I don't know how this summer will feel. Quick like last term? or slow and painful? At least it will be educational and I will hopefully (not) get malaria.

Throughout this note we refers to myself and my volunteer partner, Jane

Best wishes to all of you at home and around the world!



Today is May 7. My flight to Tanzania leaves at 6:15.

I'll be flying from Toronto to London. Then to Nyrobe, Kenya and then to Entaibe, Uganda. From there I'll be driving to Tanzania.

I'm very excited and very scared.