Stephen Young


do we look alike?


The road to Comboni

Ron from the British Tanzanian Society (well his back)

Sekiku and Liz from the British Tanzanian Society

A view of the Comboni training center under construction plus BTS visitors

A post card from the village (plus 1 finger..)

our visitors from the British Tanzanian Society

Jane looking as if she'd done work!

it's just so green, i couldn't resist. that's comboni underneath

The south-west of kayanga

giant catholic church under construction !

Bird's eye view of our office

Another post - so soon!

Kayanga is a wonderful place, situated in the north west of tanzania it is a nice blend of rural and urban life. During the past three weeks I have really started to feel the burn of so much to do here at FADECO. The problems that Jane and I are facing are a lack of time and a lack of structure. I feel there are so many little projects I can help with, but there is no one to tell me which to focus on or what's important... or when to do it by... or how much planning is required or a pile of other issues I don't even recognize.

We were without power for most of Sunday, Monday and some of Tuesday - and of course it happened right when we really wanted to start working on some computer stuff with John. Suffice to say, Jane and I were annoyed. Ultimately, the placement has and will continue to be a challenge of self-motivation and cultural observation. I can easily spend the better part of each day reading in the sun and eating out at the local cafes (I try not to). I could also finish the summer ignorant of so many small cultural differences that make talking, working, eating, socializing and generally living altogether different. It is easy not to change. The people I live hand work with are so accommodating that they won't mind if I continue to act like my old self and ignore the subtleties of interaction and custom. It is really important to me to not ignore these things, but it is also very difficult. As for myself, I think the slow paced life style here has a wonderful but potentially negative effect on me. It is far to easy to relax. Here in TZ they like to say "hamna shida" , which means "no problem". Ever time something doesn't work or we
don't get around to finishing our work John will say no problem, we can do it later. When you say it enough you start to believe it, and then nothing gets done...

In other news, the trip we had planned to Dar es Salaam for a Canada Day has been cancelled. We were hoping to see life in the big city and how it differs from the small town semi-rural life in Kayanga. Alas the cost was too much and we are too busy here - as well we're supposed to be integrating into our communities to site-seeing. Next week, we'll be working extensively in Mr. Sekiku's home village where we FADECO is constructing a training center as an alternative to secondary school. We'll be helping to supervise construction, plan the layout, and acquire supplies teachers, etc.

One of the things Mr. Sekiku wants us to do is think about is buildings from around the world which can be incorporated into the center. For example, we are thinking that each of the teachers residences can resemble a dwelling from a different part of the world. Sekiku really values the knowledge he's gained by traveling - he wants to share these ideas and concepts with his fellow Tanzanian - he wants to show them more than what is beyond their doorstep. Keep in mind this is not about changing people away from their native ways, but about giving them more knowledge. On that note, if you or anyone else has suggestions for cool international buildings we'd really appreciate them.

On a totally different note, I've been talking with John and Jane about different ways that FADECO can get computer equipment which they can use to promote ICT use and training within classrooms, hospitals, and offices. FADECO, through the networking skills of Mr. Sekiku, is very highly connected in the community. This includes other NGOs, hospitals, secondary schools, post office, and the district government. FADECO has already developed a reputation as being a catalyst for helping organizations and people get access to the technology and knowledge they need for their work. There is a real opportunity for FADECO to act as a broker for technology and computer resources to the community. We have seen first hand the demand for organizations to utilize certain technologies to improve their productivity and increase their impact on the community. This is a very real impact. For example, we are working with secondary schools and hospitals, both of which have an immediate and ongoing opportunity to improve people's lives.

That's all for now!



Living, Language and Lots more

Hello all. It's been quite some time since I was last on here - I guess things got a little more busy. Hopefully, from now on I will post shorter more regular updates.

So much has happened over the past three weeks I don't even know where to begin. Lately I find myself really wanting to be able to speak swahili. It really is disabling not to be able to properly converse with visitors to FADECO. About three weeks ago we were given a really good swahili course book from a volunteer from The Netherlands who is working for an NGO called Karadea. Sasa, I have two books and a set of audio files on Jane's computer which I can use to learn - the problem is making time for it.

Each week I have a different thought process about communicating with people. When I first arrived I expected people to greet me with swahili, and then not mind when I butcher the response. At first when I was introduced to people I think they would use swahili because they wanted to show me the greetings. When they would continue to speak full sentences of swahili I would assume they wouldn't mind when I shake my head in confusion. As time goes on, I've really started to notice people making an effort to speak to me in english, especially greetings. Until recently the only phrases I felt comfortable saying were greetings and it bothered me that people would use english on me even if I tried swahili. More recently my biggest challenge is processing what people are saying, even if I know the words they're saying I can't recognize them fast enough to respond. While I'm thinking, someone else will usually translate for me.

I do miss certain things, like chocolate, pizza, tap water, showering, tuna, other sources of protein, movies, peace and quite, personal space, etc. But on average at the end of the day when I am brushing my teeth and looking up at the clear sky with all those vibrant stars, I realize how relaxed I am. Sometimes I feel like yelling or hiding in my bed for a week - but usually I'm just thinking to myself : wow this is a lot better than an office job in TO. That's not really the way I view my time here, but often I can't help but compare it.