A Student Development Experience in a Development Context


Four’s Company

A line from a song called “All for One” by Brand Nubian fits quite well with my experience living with Jacklynn, Katherine and Mallory:

“I’m living kind of good similar to Jack Tripper.”



Garbage Day in Karatu

The other morning Mal and I embarked on the 2 km walk to the CPAR office and we noticed that it was unusually smokey around town. I turned to her and joked that it must be garbage day in Karatu. I wasn’t wrong. In Karatu there is no municipal garbage collection service. People collect garbage in a pit or in a pile in their yards and burn it. The garbage that gathers in the streets and the tarmac ditches (see the pictures from “Tanzanian Tobogganing” for a visual of the ditches) is collected and placed in piles on street corners or in the “garbage dump” (see photo) where it is burned. Everything is burned – plastic bags, batteries, tinfoil, you name it.

As you read this I can imagine that you are saying “eww” to yourself. But it really isn’t that bad. There isn’t really that much garbage around Karatu. People don’t have a lot, so they don’t waste a lot. There is far less throughput in this society. Personally I like the trade off. I don’t mind dealing with a little bit of smoke in the morning knowing that less trash is produced in the first place.


The "dump" - right across from our favourite chips mayai stop, Camp David.

When Poverty Strikes: Gold Mining in Tanzania



Two words to describe our stay in Tanzania could be safe and lovely.  Never have any of us felt threatened or even uncomfortable, and the landscapes and people are wonderful.  We are met with joy and curiosity when we walk the streets, never haste.  But the two articles above uncover the underside of this beautiful country.

After reading these articles we felt enraged as we were reminded of the poverty and conflict surrounding gold mining. The articles remind us that not every place in Tanzania is safe and peaceful, but rather in some parts of Tanzania, peoples’ lives are constantly being altered and threatened by large corporate investment.

Conflict has raged in Tarime (Northern Tanzania, north of Bunda which is another of CPAR’s impact areas) for years. The Barrick Gold (A Canadian gold mining company, the largest in the world) mine in Tarime is one of those sources.  As rock is tossed and turned by Barrick’s machinery, villagers flock to the mine to sort through the waste rock to gather bits of gold that can be sold for some money.

There are many questions and concerns surrounding these articles; corruption, human rights, land ownership, human displacement, accountability of government and corporations as material development and profit seeking seem to trump human development. One of the comments on the globe and mail website stated:

“$14 million for building a wall around the waste rock? It’s time to connect the dots, I bet schools around the mining area don’t have desks and hospitals are lacking essential drugs while roads are not passable…and mining pollutants drain into the rivers. Where are the profits going? Despite of all this wealth, the National budget is totally relying on foreign aid… a “remittance” from our gold! Tanzania my lovely country, enough is enough, it’s time to wake up!”

We will be following up this blog post when we visit the small-scale mining site in Bunda. Clearly after reading these articles, there are many complex political and economic dimensions to consider.

We would like to open the forum to comments and questions on these two articles.

– Katherine & Scott


An Interview with CPAR Staff

Japhet Emmanuel – Country Manager, based at the Karatu Office

Japhet and Katherine pose for a photo for the Inaguration of UMATU

Q: What drew you to CPAR?

A: CPAR is a very special and unique place to work. It allows you to get exposure to viewpoints and information inside and outside of the country. I’ve gotten to learn the Canadian perspective and can contrast it with the Tanzanian one. Because of that exposure I can interact with Canadians more effectively. I can relate to their perspective more.

Q: How important has CPAR been for you personally?

A:. I really appreciate how I can have the opportunity to travel to Canada for me work with CPAR. I’ve been able to go to Canada 3 times so far; it has built up my skills and has developed my career. CPAR also supported me when I pursued my master’s degree in public health by covering my tuition fees. This doesn’t happen a lot in the NGO world. It’s an investment in my skill, career, and personal development: they’ve invested in me and I in them.

Q: What program do you feel has been the most impactful the community?

A: Health and water projects. It involves everyone and really impacts people’s lives in a big way. But it’s not so much what program is the most impactful. It’s the issues that we focus on and then programs follow. For example, we cannot help people with water if we don’t understand how gender issues affects this.

Q: What is your perspective of having the Badili Mitzamo team, just 4 young university students, travel internationally to work alongside the team for 6 weeks?

A: Some people wonder what volunteers can do traveling abroad. It’s not true that they have nothing to offer. It’s carefully designed, and when the needs and skills are determined ahead of time, it’s very useful and valuable. It means a lot having them here. We’ve been learning at a good pace and are now able to do the technical aspects of getting our stories, photos and videos to Canada.

Interview with Nderingo Godlove – Bunda Office

NDeringo Getting out of the CPAR Vehicle

Q: What were some of the initial challenges of introducing the program to Bunda?

A: At first it was difficult to establish because they were hesitant about the amount of work that would be involved in implementing the program, and feared that it would be too difficult. Before CPAR, there were government projects that gave them cash, so they had grown accustomed to being given everything that they required in times of need, but CPAR was taking a very different approach Sustainable development must involve the community directly, discussing their needs and priorities, determining what’s lacking, educating them based on those needs practices, and only then are materials loaned to the ‘movers and shakers’ of the communities. Though the initial seeds are loaned, they are not paid back to CPAR, but to another group that needs it, so as to pay forward the loan rather than back.

Q: What more do you think needs to be done for the program in Bunda?

A: We still have a lot of work to do here in Bunda. People still expect to be given everything, but that’s not the way it is. I explain why they need to contribute and discuss how tackling poverty will be done in the community and not solved with the government. We have one new group this year that has two groups and its working very well.

Q: Have you noticed any differences in the people of Bunda versus Karatu?

A: Here there is tribalism, in which communities are based on tribes. The problem is that each tribe wants to remain separate from the others rather than mixing.

–  Jacklynn –

Water Works

The other evening I truly got to experience life in rural Tanzania. It is a long story and I will start from the beginning.

In the early morn’ of June 10, a water pipe in the area of our guesthouse broke and the house was out of water. It wasn’t too much of an issue since we would be at the CPAR office all day anyways, but the dishes were piling up and so were the dirty clothes. After our day at CPAR the house was still out of water. At about 5:30 or 6:00, Maggie, our guesthouse caretaker and coincidentally an UMATU member living positively with HIV, walked into our house to grab an orange four gallon bucket. It didn’t immediately occur to me what she was up to.

About 20 minutes later I heard Maggie come into the house again. I came out from my bedroom and she had the orange bucket filled with water, about to dump it into a green ten gallon shower tub. I asked if she needed a hand and she said, “Okay” from under her breath. I could see that she was trying to catch her breath and had broken a sweat. I poured the water and thanked Maggie for her goodwill, she said, “Asante” (“Thank you”) and snatched the bucket for another trip.

After another 20 minutes I heard Maggie opening the steel gate to the guesthouse. I left my room to meet her in the yard where I saw that Maggie had the orange bucket on her head (not just something you see on TV). I helped her take the bucket down from her head and carried it into the house to pour into the same green shower tub. I only walked about ten metres with the bucket and I remember thinking, “Holy [cursive] this is pretty heavy.” It must have weighed 40 pounds! I brought the bucket outside to Maggie and said, “Asante Maggie, I think that’s enough water for us.” Being that Maggie doesn’t speak English and that I was holding the bucket, my message went unacknowledged. Maggie took the bucket and went for another round.

20 minutes later another bucket came. Again I met Maggie in the yard and helped her ease the weight off of her head. I poured it into a red shower tub this time and afterwards Maggie took the bucket again and went for another trip. She was determined; the look in her eyes was unmistakeable.

Before Maggie came with our fourth bucket I had moved into the family room to fold some laundry. I selected one of my favourite albums (Loaded by Velvet Underground) on my iPod and placed it on my iPod dock. As I folded I thought, “I love this song.” Then I thought of Maggie. For her, work meant being called in on a Friday evening to fetch numerous 40 pound buckets of water so that the guests at the house would have enough water for the weekend. For me, work meant listening to my favourite tunes and folding a dozen pieces of laundry. How is that for an unequal division of labour? I became anxious. “How far does Maggie have to walk?,” I thought. I went into the yard and paced, waiting for Maggie to come back.

The sky was beginning to turn dark. It felt like an eternity before Maggie returned. Sure enough she arrived with another bucket atop her head. She began to reach over the gate to flip the latch from the inside. I rushed over to open it up for her. I crawled out (the gate is only about a five foot high door surrounded by steel above and on both sides) and helped Maggie get the weight off of her head. I carried it into our house and dumped it into the red shower bucket, which was now also full. I left the bucket inside the house this time and went out onto the patio where Maggie was waiting. I craftily mixed Swahili and English and waved my arms, palms down parallel to the ground, to tell Maggie that we certainly had enough water now (four gallons or about 60 litres). Maggie smiled and pointed across the yard to the other house in the compound. The other house is where Jolene lives, director of the Minnesota International Health Volunteers in Tanzania. “For Mama,” Maggie said.

I don’t think that there is a single word to describe what I felt when I learned that Maggie wasn’t done. I think I was mostly star-struck. “Wow. How is that even possible?” I was also downhearted – poor Maggie. Worst of all I felt guilt. I thought of my jobs at home – finance technician at Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and busperson at the Lobby on York. Work? If anything is work it is carrying 40 pound buckets of water on your head! I continued to pace around the yard and waited for Maggie to return with Mama’s water.

Again I met Maggie outside of the gate. I took the bucket and she walked ahead to show me into Jolene’s house. After pouring the water I pointed to the front door and used intonation to make “again” sound like a question.

“Yea,” Maggie replied. This time I would go with her. I needed to see how this was done. I carried the empty bucket and we walked silently (language barrier) to fetch more water.

The walk was about one kilometre, maybe 750 metres. It was fairly dark, there was just enough light to see a few metres ahead of my feet. Maggie led me through the dusty, uneven terrain of Karatu town. We passed through maize fields and eventually wound up in a residential area. People were washing clothes and preparing meals. Of course everybody stared wide-eyed at the white man carrying the water bucket. Maggie said a few things to the residents in Swahili, what she said I’ll never know.

We walked alongside a burnt brick building where the path was no more than 14 inches wide and very rocky and uneven, before a two foot drop-off into the residential area described above. We hung a right behind a mud hut with a grass-thatched roof and entered another residential area. A white bucket with no lid and a hose sunk into it was clearly visible straight ahead, in front of a small plywood structure. There were young kids running and shouting “Mzungu” (person of European descent) and “Jambo” (a greeting, like we would say hello in English). An older woman sat on a stool peeling some sort of vegetables, it was too dark to tell what kind. A man came out of a hut to see what all the commotion was about.

Almost on arrival the white bucket was full. I picked it up and held it in front of my body. Maggie lightly slapped my left hand and said, “No,” she pointed to the ground. She poured the white bucket into the orange one, then pointed to the empty white bucket and said, “For me.” I sat on the orange bucket and held the hose to fill the white bucket while Maggie went into the plywood structure to turn on the water tap. I thought I was there to relieve Maggie, I couldn’t believe that she still wanted a bucket! As the bucket filled, Maggie informed me that we were at her Mother’s house. I looked over to the older woman peeling vegetables, we had a friendly introductory conversation in Swahili and shared a laugh.

The white bucket filled slowly. When it was done I figured I’d give Maggie first choice on which bucket she would prefer to carry. Wrong move (you’ll soon understand why). Maggie picked the orange bucket with the lid. She coiled a piece of black fabric on top of her head. I helped her hold the orange bucket at chest height before she was to hoist it above her head. I held the bucket at the lip around the top and Maggie had her hands underneath the bucket. What happened next blew my mind. Maggie bent her knees and rested the lip of the bucket on her lower teeth. I still held the lip of the bucket but at this point I was in awe and probably not doing much to relieve the weight from Maggie’s jaw. Maggie moved one hand to the same lip that I held and proceeded to do a full-on squat and lift, just like the Olympic weightlifters do. I couldn’t believe it.

Next I lifted the white bucket and held it in front of me. “Okay let’s go,” I said.

“No,” Maggie replied. She tapped my head and said, “Come on.” A strange rush of both adrenaline and fear raced through my body. Carry that thing on my head? I quickly realized that my arms and back would be very sore if I was to carry the 40 pound bucket in front of me. Maggie knew that from experience. The white bucket had two holes at the top on either side as handles. I put my thumbs through the holes and lifted the bucket above my head.

“This is crazy!” Maggie and I both laughed aloud once I had the bucket atop my head – along with everybody else at Maggie’s Mother’s house. The kids yelped with excitement and ran circles around me. Mama watched and gave a proud chuckle. The man laughed and cheered me on.

We left the same way that we entered; Maggie led the way. She used only one hand to balance the bucket on her head. I used two hands to lift the bucket a little bit and relieve pressure from my neck. I didn’t know the correct position for the bucket. Closer to my forehead? Top of the dome? I wish I had known because it was pretty uncomfortable. Maggie seemed to be in her own, no discomfort detectable. The 14 inch wide path along the burnt brick building was a bit nerve-wracking. As we reached the first maize field Maggie was beginning to get ahead of me. “Pole pole” (po-lay po-lay – “Slowly”), I said. Maggie turned around with ease and laughed.

For the most part we both giggled the whole way back to the guesthouse, except when I had to take a break to catch my breath and stretch my neck (three times that happened – give me a break it really is harder than it looks). Maggie also stopped laughing when she heard ounces of water splash out of the bucket and land on the ground or all over me. “I’m sorry,” she said.

I tried to say, “Sorry for what? I got myself into this mess!” I don’t think Maggie understood but my laughter made it clear that I was having fun.

We got back to the guesthouse and Maggie reached her arm through the gate to open it; the bucket was still on her head. Now get this, Maggie swung the gate open and ducked down to get through the gate with the bucket still on her head! She even shooed the dogs away with her free hand! Rural Tanzanian limbo I thought. Maggie impressed me more and more each step of the way.

I of course took the bucket from my head and carried it in front of me to get through the gate (I am taller than Maggie to my credit!). I put my bucket down and helped Maggie get hers from off of her head. We entered Jolene’s and emptied the buckets; both houses were now stocked with water. Mission accomplished!

I soon realized that I was soaking wet from head to toe. Red dirt from the bottom of the bucket mixed with water to give my skin and clothes a unique ‘rustic’ look. Now you see why I probably should have had the orange bucket with a lid. I’d bet my bottom dollar that Maggie could have handled the white bucket without losing a drop. But no matter how dirty I was it was well worth it. I looked at Maggie and put my right hand over my heart and pounded a little. I made the universal sound of exhaustion. We both laughed and thanked each other for the good time.

The water journey really put things into perspective. I can look back and think of all the times that I slouched when it came to doing dishes or shovelling snow. Now I realize that that stuff is just a walk in the park. So next time you have a little nuisance of a job to do around the house, think of Maggie.


To Market, To Market

Purchasing staple goods in Karatu is very different from what we rely on in Canada. A few streets over from our home is the daily market where we frequently stop to buy vegetables for our dinners. One large covered area, packed with tons of vendors in small stands are all selling essentially the same products. How do you choose who to buy from? At first the task was a bit daunting. We knew that it is common for vendors to charge “mzungu prices”, an inflated cost for tourists. Fortunately, with a little prep we were able to find a friend in the marketplace and decided this would be our go-to vendor.

A view of all the vendors in the field

Last Tuesday, the CPAR Tanzania team brought us to the monthly market. On the 7th of each month vendors travel from the surrounding area to come sell their wares in field off the main road in Karatu. This market is significantly larger, to say the least. This field becomes covered with tarps, stands, and portable shacks, that are full of clothes, shoes, electronics, produce, and livestock. A vast majority of the goods, food aside, are second hand. As you wander through the field, people start following you around trying to sell you smaller items such as jewellery and carvings.

The evening was finished off with dinner: fresh beef cooked over an open flame. Served on a stick, this dish looks like a massive skewer that is eaten by slicing pieces off with a knife. I dined on sugar cane, an equally interesting experience. Tanzanians use their teeth to peel back the bark and then start chewing on the highly fibrous, yet extremely juicy insides. Once you have enjoyed all the juice, spit the fibre out. The mzungu way to eat sugar cane involves removing the bark with a knife and scoring the fibre so it will break apart more easily. The sugar cane was delicious! The taste was much lighter than what I expected.










It is interesting to experience a culture that primarily relies on marketplaces to buy and sell goods. While we see markets in Canada, our society mainly shops for food at large grocery stores. We visit separate outlets for clothing or other needs. The marketplaces in Tanzania present more of a one-stop shopping experience. While second hand clothing has become trendy recently in Canada, in Karatu, it is what everyone wears.

However, what I found most interesting was the livestock. We frequently talk about how disconnected Canadians are to their food source compared to Tanzanians. We go to the store, buy a package with all one cut of meat, and take it home to cook. In Tanzania, the animal is purchased alive and the family or restaurant turns it into dinner. The cut you get is luck of the draw. This process was very visible at the monthly market. First, there is the fenced area with cows, goats, and chickens for sale. Along the edge of the field are people preparing the meat while someone else cooks it over the open flame. Then dinner is ready to eat!


A Local Perspective

Our service learning experience has been a tremendous experience for us all and will continue to be as the last few weeks develop. As we travel on our journey around Tanzania, we have met and have been touched by the lives of those we encounter, but the experience is not one sided. One of our main goals while here is to aid in the development of the CPAR Tanzania staff’s communication skills through various mediums. We have already flown through most of the tasks that we were assigned to cover and will soon be tackling an additional program or two due to popular demand. The excitement level is high and everyone is eager to learn. What more could you ask for out of a learning environment?

One of CPAR Tanzania’s field officers, Nderingo G. Naiman, was kind enough to offer his perspective of the service learning experience thus far, and the impact that the program has had on him.

“The Badili Mitzamo team has been here for almost two weeks. During this time, myself and my fellow CPAR team members, has been enjoying the training and ideas we have been sharing with them. The good thing is that we are learning from each other; they get a first hand experience of Tanzania life, but also they are giving us what they know, especially in terms of technology. I can confidently say that the communication training we are receiving from the Badili Mitzamo team is very vital for our career development and even our personal life. We have been having many visitors here, but the Badili team visit has, in my opinion, been the most important for my knowledge development and for exchanging experiences.”

As the trip progresses it will be interesting to see how each of us grows. Stay tuned for more discussion with the CPAR Tanzania staff.

– Jacklynn –