Stephen Young


Jane helps to measure sample areas

Inside a banana plantation

Comboni finds photo negatives


Our first ICT training session - targeted at NGO and development workers

Karagwe Secondary School teacher learning Mircosoft Word

Me trying to explain the concept of "username"


Safari Mbaya

This past Tuesday Jane and I returned from Bukoba, which is approximately 100km from our home in Kayanga. Normally the trip takes two hours - yesterday however the trip took just under seven!

Leaving Kayanga Saturday afternoon, Jane and I traveled using a small coach to Bukoba for the weekend. We had planned a mini EWB retreat as a substitute for cancelling our trip to Dar es Salaam. In an effort to lower the bird population of TZ, Sekiku also asked us to purchase some items for the construction of the new building - wiring and plumbing supplies. The trip was very pleasant and provided me with some quiet time away from watu wengi sana (so many people). As a wonderful bonus I had a chance to do some serious swahili reading and learning. I now understand much better the 15 noun classes in swahili that make the language so wonderfully confusing!

We stayed in a small hotel/guesthouse which is quite nice and very affordable. The guesthouse is right on Lake Victoria and the view is spectacular (I'll post some pictures). Bukoba is the capital of the Kagera region (one of 22 regions in TZ) and is quite a bit larger than Kayanga. In town we were able to buy duracell batteries for my camera - these ones won't die after two flashes. Also Jane and I seriously endulged and managed to eat several small pizzas, 1 hamburger, and real coffee!

When in Bukoba I took the opportunity to visit a fancy touristy hotel which had a swimming pool. I endulged once again and snuck in a couple hours of swimming – I love swimming. At the pool there were a number of foreigners and white westerners. Several of them turned out to be native Zimbabweans and another bunch were rich Tanzanians of Arabic descent, but that’s not the point. The point is there were bikini clad dutch medical students - wait, that's not the point either. Consisely put, I didn’t like the feeling I got from grouping myself with tourists and rich people. Secondary students from a nearby school came to visit the swimming pool and I could feel their thoughts about this luxurious environment filled with people who weren’t like them. It made me feel awfully uncomfortable and want to return to my home community.

Now for the really exciting part. John, Samuel and a mechanic named Madi came to pick us up on their way back from Uganda with Mr. Sekiku's other pickup truck. The truck allowed us to transport the toilet and other supplies we'd purchased. For a quick digression, the truck in question had been in a serious accident just prior to Jane and I arriving in TZ. The chasis had been badly damaged and the engine was barely function, so it had been sent to Uganda to be repaired. When John arrived in Bukoba he mentioned that the car was running a little strangely, but he failed to elaborate in any detail. Jane suggested we stay in town for the night because it was getting late and the car was under question. John, however, was confident we'd make it home with out any trouble... so off we went. About 15 minutes outside of town the car starts wheezing on its was up a hill. Barely crested the top of the hill, Sam pulls over to the side and we all pile out quick quick. There's steam pouring out from under the hood, and it turns out the radiator is leaking badly and the engine is overheating. After doucing it with water we eventually get back under way... but this is not end of out problems. As it starts to get dark the car loses power again and we coast to a stop in the middle of the road (a 2-way road about as wide a single 401 lane). This process of stopping and going continues for about half an hour, as creeping along for about 5km and then stalling for 15 minutes. One of the times we just can't get the car going again - Sam suspects it is because the drive is stuck in 4-wheel mode, but this theory is later disproved. As we're struggling to push the engine to a start, a group of voices can be heard approaching. John starts making ominious comments about how we're going to be attacked and I'm getting a little scared. The men who appear actually agree to help us with a push - and the engine takes off. Still, as we pull away they chase the car asking us for money and I have to run to hope into a moving door!

Suffice to say the car did not work properly at all that night. We averaged about 15km/h and spent as much time behind pushing as riding in the cabin on in the back. The last 10km into Kayanga are strongly uphill. The only way we manged to get the car moving was to hop out and push until the engine took. The Sam would drive for as far as possible and we'd run to catch up. Climbing that hill around 1AM was some seriously exhusting excercise. Despite all odds, and multiple suggestions to stop and camp in the woods, we did arrive safely. I will certainly not soon foget that evening. The it was discovered the garage Mr. Sekiku hired to do the work in Kampala installed a used raditor and generally wasted his money - there was much yelling over the phone.

Today (Monday) we left Kayanga at 6AM to travel to nearby villages to help perform data collection for agricultural research being done by a Masters student from Makerere University. Helping set boundaries and work with famers was a pleasant change from the work at the compound. The student, a girl named Gaudin, is studying why certain bannana varieties are planted in various different locations throughout a farmers land. The planting tendencies of farmers will be analyzed and recommendations will be made about the use of different varieties of crop in different land conditions. The information will eventually be published and distributed through the government to agricultural extension workers to help inform farmers in different areas about suggested best practices.

Joseph also showed us some of the farmers he works with for solar drying and bee keeping. Joseph has helped farmers set up small bee hives which can be maintained cheaply and harvested as an extra source of income. Mr. Sekiku purchases the honey and sells it under the brand name "Rift Valley Foods". I'm getting really excited about solar drying these days. In about a weeks time we will be travelling to Nyakasimbi to work intensively on the construction of the centre and also hopefully to construct additionally solar dryers. Joseph refers to these dryers as "commercial", as they are permenent structures and have a much higher capacity. A single dryer can produce 100kg of dried fruit in a two day cycle. Currently FADECO only has two of these dryers, but they've just recieved a investment loan to increase their capacity significantly. This is very exciting... and Joseph is looking for ways he can improve the dryer design to increase efficiency and capacity. As a side note, I worry that centralized drying equipment shifts the focus of the solar drying program away from famers and more onto a revenue generator for FADECO.

Well that was quite a lot of words... hope you manged to get through it alright!

Cheers, Steve