Roxanne in Tanzania

Hi, I’m Roxanne Miller from San Francisco, CA. I am a Kiva Fellow volunteering this summer with Kiva’s partner Youth Self Employment Foundation (YOSEFO) in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. I arrived in Tanzania in the middle of May and will be working here until the beginning of August.

The first two weeks have been amazing and I’m learning so much from this experience. Swahili and English are the national languages of Tanzania but Swahili is much preferred over English, so I’m first trying to learn enough Swahili to hold a basic conversation and be able to navigate the city. Tanzanians learn English in secondary school and all university classes are taught in English, but not everyone had the opportunity to learn English or remembers the language. Luckily this language barrier hasn’t kept me from meeting Kiva entrepreneurs. Rodney Chubwa, the manager of the Kiva program for YOSEFO, has been serving as my translator. During our interviews it’s been easy to hear the enthusiasm in the voices of the Kiva entrepreneurs when they talk about their business, even if I can’t understand the words.

I am lucky to be living with four Tanzanian women in their home in a suburb of Dar es Salaam. They are sisters whose ages range from 23-31. I work with their aunt, Happy Sambega, at YOSEFO and she arranged for me to stay with them during my time here. I am learning so much about Tanzanian culture from them and they like to hear my stories about American culture as well. We watch cable TV together (American Idol is one of their favorite shows), cook dinner (I’m learning to cook East African meals and eat food with my right hand), and go shopping (the second hand clothing stores here are fantastic). Living someplace where you don’t speak the language can be isolating, but with my roommates I don’t feel lonely. A few weeks into the trip the only thing I find myself really missing is Mexican food. The grocery stores here don’t stock tortillas or black beans; I did find a bottle of El Paso salsa, but it cost $7 USD!

I’m looking forward to sharing with you more about living in Dar es Salaam, working with YOSEFO and meeting Kiva entrepreneurs this summer. Tutaonana! (Goodbye in Swahili)

About the author

Roxanne Miller