We have been in Tanzania for six weeks and have observed equipment and methods of performing routine tasks being used … some of which have not been used for decades in many countries where people are accustomed to having easy access to hundreds, if not thousands, of gadgets to make lives easier or trendier. We certainly fall into that category of people!
Let’s think about what we have observed! There are many common businesses or household tasks that we see every day outside peoples’ homes, on sidewalks, or sides of roads, or in very small shops – furniture making, sewing & tailoring, ironing, cooking, and washing clothes. Many furniture makers use hand-made tools. Sewing machines are usually old trestle machines with the operator pumping by foot.
Old heavy cast iron and charcoal irons are used on a variety of firm surfaces. We frequently see the cooking being done in pots over an open fire and then water is heated to wash dishes. The water has often been carried in a container by hand or on a person’s head from another location. This is how the morning porridge and lunches are prepared for the children in some of the day centers. The washing of clothing is done in the same manner.
What are the reasons for use of these methods? Much of it is poverty. which in a developing country usually means no water or source of power in the very small, if any, living quarters. Tanzania is also plagued by a constant shortage of electricity, which is now considered to be at a crisis level. There are daily periods of time that power is turned off by the company in an effort to conserve it. Obviously, unless a business or family can afford the expensive purchase and operation of a generator, having appliances and other items that run off of electricity is considered a waste.
So ask yourselves, what are the ramifications of these methods on families’ daily living or on the daily operations of a business here? We know that we won’t look at some of these pieces of equipment in quite the same way when we see them in antique stores or being used as decoration. We hope that we pause for a moment as we click on a washing machine, a light switch, or a hot water faucet and remember how fortunate we are.