Fellows Blog Posts by alecintanzania

Mar 24, 2008 TZ Tanzania

1. You are constantly told to eat more ugali so you won’t be so skinny.

2. Cell phone towers are more common than traffic lights.

3. You see signs like this:

3.5. And this:

4. The most common phrase you hear is “Hey mzungu! Taxi?”

(“mzungu” is Swahili for “white person”)

5. A short cab ride can cost up to 3,000 TZS, but no worries…that’s only $2.

6. The vernacular...

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Mar 21, 2008 TZ Tanzania

Hopefully, this is just volume 1 of “You know you are in Tanzania when…” blogs. I am banking on contributions from Dana and Johannah, the other TZ fellows for the next volumes…

1. Coworkers frequently walk by and casually mention that they have malaria.

2. The most common question you are asked is: “Are you a Muslim or a Christian?”

3. Gospel music plays full volume during the workday.

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Mar 18, 2008 TZ Tanzania

Loan officers are an integral part of the microfinance process. Without the hard work of loan officers, reaching the poor with financial services would not be possible. However, loan officers typically do not get very much attention. With that in mind, I thought it would be interesting for you to meet a friend of mine at YOSEFO to help give you a better understanding of how loan officers fit into the microfinance process.

At YOSEFO, each loan officer is assigned a community center. There are 13 centers serviced by the Dar es Salaam branch...

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Feb 20, 2008 TZ Tanzania

This past weekend was very exciting for Tanzania. As a part of President Bush’s tour of Africa, he visited Dar es Salaam. It was the first visit by an American President, since Clinton’s visit in 1998.

With typical Tanzanian hospitality, Dar was ready for the occasion, and I couldn’t help smiling… Banners were strung up that featured the Stars and Stripes crossed with the Tanzanian flag, and welcomed “Your Excellency President Bush.” Billboards were scattered throughout the city featuring a panorama of Kilimanjaro, with an artist’s rendering...

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Feb 20, 2008 TZ Tanzania

Literally. Last Tuesday was the first day it rained since I have been in Dar. There was no warning drizzle or gradual acceleration. Rather, the sky opened with a clap of thunder, and rain came down that sounded more like gravel than water as it pounded the thin tin roof over my head.

The roof belonged to YOSEFO’s center in the Tandika community. I am told that Tandika is best referred to as an “unplanned urban settlement,” although the vernacular would suggest otherwise. Inside the center, client meeting were conducted by the light of a single...

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Feb 5, 2008 TZ Tanzania

It is difficult to adequately describe the contrast between the frozen homogeneity of suburban Minneapolis which I left, and the noisy and chaotic vibrancy of Dar es Salaam. I traveled through five airports over the course of three days, and touched down in Dar es Salaam on Sunday in a jet-lag induced daze. Not quite knowing what to expect, I shouldered my touristy hiking backpack, and walked out of the international arrivals terminal – directly into the middle of a political demonstration

Thousands of Tanzanians were crowded around the doors of the terminal and...

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