At the end of this week we will have completed five months of our trip! That is incredible to think about. Some days we do not feel as if we have been abroad for five months; other days we miss our families and friends so much, and it definitely feels like we have been gone for a long time. It will be interesting to see how we feel day to day as our trip draws closer to the halfway point.
This past week was mostly spent with the cooperative businesses that BCC works with. We visited the bag cooperative several times, met with the social business developer for BCC to discuss the new bag cooperative, and visited a group who received microloans to do beadwork, which may become another cooperative. We love visiting the cooperative groups! The men and women are inspiring and their products are amazing!
We also spent a lot of time at the local cell phone and internet provider, Vodacom. We are learning that international customer service is not the same as customer service in the United States. Long story short, Vodacom changed their internet systems and, even though we go there a lot to speak with Vodacom representatives, no one informed us of the changes. This resulted in us losing some money.
Now we are stuck in a cultural battle between the confrontational Americans who want reimbursed and the non-confrontational Tanzanians who culturally refuse to admit not knowing how to fix a situation or admit any wrong doing. Unfortunately for Vodacom, they have lost our business, but we really don’t think that is of any concern to them. It is a very interesting cultural lesson for us, and since our favorite coffee shop, Union Café, now has internet, we won’t be using Vodacom much anyway.
Moshi also hosted a large celebration this past week. Tanzania will be celebrating 50 years of independence December 9, 2011. Each region (similar to states in the USA) will be celebrating individually prior to the national holiday in December. For three days this week, Moshi had a fair to celebrate independence. Many businesses and non-profits had booths to show their products. BCC had a booth to explain their work with children who have developmental disabilities and their families. It was a lot of fun, and a lot of work for the BCC staff!
Our friend from Rwanda, Deb, and her friend from Seattle, Miranda, also visited for the latter part of the week. Deb and Miranda went on safari with our safari friend, Jesse, and had an incredible experience! They saw a wildebeest taken down by a hyena and eaten by lions (you can see a photo below)! They were about 10 feet away from the scene! Jesse has been conducting safaris for over eight years and has never seen this so they had quite the safari!
Later in the week, Deb taught some of the bead making women how to make earrings from pop bottle tabs and scrap fabric! We will talk more about this experience later this week. We had a great time with Deb and Miranda and will miss them very much!
Throughout the upcoming week we will be finishing our monthly paperwork. We also have to work with the bag cooperative to ship over 400 bags to the United States. It is the Cooperative’s first large shipment with DHL (a shipping company) and everyone is very excited! It should be a great week!
This week we will also be discussing CCBRT, an organization that BCC partners with. They provide physical therapy and minor surgeries for children with physical and developmental disabilities.