Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Mtwara!! So my friend and I decided to extend with the UN WFP (world food program) here in Mtwara and we are really pumped. I got into the University of Detroit Mercy for their MCD (Masters in Community Development) and I asked to defer until second semester and they agreed!! So I signed a contract with WFP to work until December on their cash transfer pilot project. We are living in town now which is crazy different from the village, I mean electricity and water!! It has been hard not having the same community that living in a village brings but it is really nice to be doing bigger programs and learning more about international development. We use our bikes to get everywhere and we are getting in “beach body” shape because we living about 10mins from the beach! Our area of town is legit surrounded by the ocean and we can even take a small boat with our bikes to get to white sand beaches that go on for as long as you can see!! Work is crazy for now because we are trying to get 2200 people on the same page when the only reliable form of communication is word of mouth but it is fun! We go out to the villages often and we are close to being fully functional. Our program pairs nutritional lessons with a cash incentive. At first I thought that this program wasn’t very sustainable but now that I am in it I am really for it. We are giving the education on how to have a nutritious meal with things that can be locally grown and how being healthier affects your child that you are breastfeeding (the program is for pregnant women and people breastfeeding). We are then pairing the education with money that they can then go buy the food that will help them become more healthy. We are allowing them to make the decision to buy the food and invest in their child’s nutrition or to use the money for other things, either way its their choice and we are hoping they chose to change their diets in thus experiencing behavior change. Behavior change is something that i have been working on for the past two years and it is not a simple thing. People, no matter where they come from get set in their ways, think about all of the studies that come out that you don’t listen to, I mean really do you drink 8 glasses of water a day? I am happy and I am pumped to see the program get off of the ground! Hope all is well with everyone back home  I got to get back to work!

Moving on up

Getting ready to move was super super crazy! I had to figure out what to do with all of my things that I could not take and then try to figure out how to fit the rest into bags! If you have any experience with tz you know that traveling can be stressful. I was able to fit all of my things into a big backpack, a big duffel, a smaller backpack and a Rubbermaid container. I was surprised that I was able to fit it all but in the end this was WAY too much haha. I first had to take a bus from milo to njombe, from there I put all of my things at the stand for the next bus and took that bus to Iringa. I spent a few nights in Iringa hanging out with friends and saying bye then jumped on a bus to Dar. The bus from Dar left at 7am but I had to get there at like 6:15am because I was traveling with 2 other friends and all together we had 19 bags!! We got to the standi and starting trying to get all the bags in and it created a scene because normally you are only allowed 1 maybe 2 bags per person. To be able to shove all of the bags in and get seats we had to have a game plan so one person fought her way in and saved seats and then us 2 were running back and forth trying to make sure our bags were not getting stolen and more importantly that our bags were getting onto the bus to dar. We were maybe in hour out when our bus starting having problems and we were forced to stop and wait for another bus, this was a HUGE problem because what were the odds that they just had another bus sitting around that could take us to dar? We sat around and then climbed into the drivers seat and took pictures and then sat some more and then out of nowhere a bus pulled up to take us to Dar. This was when crazy when to crazy, you see even though your ticket says you will sit in A1, if you are late you are not sitting there haha. We had one person legit shove her way onto the bus to secure 3 seats in a row. While she was doing that me and my other friend ran one at a time with bags to the new bus to make sure our bags didn’t get lost or left behind. This took some time and a lot of passing things up through the window but in the end, we had 3 seats and all of our bags were on the bus!! Crazy life that we live huh? Anywho it was all worth it because once in dar there is AMAZING food everywhere and plenty of friends to share good conversations with!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Sorry for the wait, but im movin up

6-1-2012 Vil life is just so different than life in the states and its hard to explain but I will try in this blog. Imagine if there were no cars and we had to walk around instead of driving and to add to that there is no electricity so there is no reason to be in your house. There isn’t too much light in the house so cutting your veggies and other things is easier outside. So imagine that everyone is outside all the time so you get to talk to everyone every day. But since you talk to everyone every day you know all of their business, so there isn’t any such thing as a secret. Also there isn’t any “work” in the vil so everyone is in the farm most of the day. Not many people have money so going to town is not a normal event. I have some older friends that have never even been to town (only place with electricity or a post office). Also since you have been in the vil your whole life you know everyone and anyone. I can ask my counterpart who someone is and no matter who it is she will know them. This closeness helps in time of need like when a funeral happens. When someone dies the whole community chips in with work and also some money, it is a common rule that everyone gives 200sh or more. Women help cook and make sure that guests are fed and the men dig the grave. Its cool to see how the vil comes together in times of need, something that doesn’t/wouldn’t happen in the states. I always surprise my villagers when I tell them that I can’t name everyone on my block. Another thing about the vil is that there is dirt everywhere, it takes awhile to get used to the fact that you have to scrub your feet all of the time because you walk on dirt to get anywhere. In the States you never walk on dirt, its all cement. In the states it is cold but its not the same, we don’t really just hangout in the cold, we are always indoors which is heated by electricity while here it is just as cold inside or even colder. Many differences but all in all it both are very nice places to live, Hope all is well and sorry this is so late! Amy

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Great blog that i stole and also a youtube video

Great blog below about peace corps, couldnt have said it better myself!!

Funny video about peace corps TOO TRUE

Thursday, February 23, 2012


Zinduka soccer
So I just received the honor to attend a grassroots zinduka soccer seminar with 9 other volunteers and 30 counterparts. I chose to bring my friend Joel who helped me with the WAD (World AIDS Day) event, he also helped me start the health club in the primary school so it seemed like a great choice. I had to bring 2 counterparts so I let Joel choose the second so I ended up with Joel and Vitalis. This seminar is designed to teach us to be master coaches but really it taught on how to be a role model. The grassroots program has an age target of 10-19 with 10 lessons. The lessons should be done in 3 months and each child should go through the program once. Each lesson involves different topics but they are all HIV/AIDS related. An example of a lesson is that there is a goal and two lines of people about 30ft out. One line of kids is HIV and the other line is a striker line. For the first round the striker line is abstaining from sex so you blow the whistle and after the kid reaches about half way you blow it again and the kid in the HIV line tries to catch him before he reaches the goal (representing their life goals). The second round the striker line has to dribble 1 ball representing one sexual partner, a few kids gets caught by HIV. In the 3rd round the striker line has to dribble 2 or 3 balls representing multiple partners where they all pretty much get caught. This lesson, like all of the lessons is very visual and I am SO PUMPED to have learned it!! Of course you have to know your audience and adjust accordingly but all in all these are great games to get kids out of the classroom but really learning. Also the most important thing about this project is that it opens up conversation with safe people who have time to hear them out. My counterparts are expected to be role models and always there for the kids and their questions which I really think can foster a safe environment which will help to dispel myths and bring out real information.


Life in milo is going great, im just working at the CTC (Care and Treatment Clinic) and getting ready for my preschool to open. I had about 63 kids last year but most of them have moved on to the primary school so im going to be looking at a MUCH smaller class, which is good for all parties. I hope that it goes well and that we will be able to get the kids doing good work. As of now my COS (Close of Service) date is Aug 17th but in May but I have a COS conference where I will find out the exact date which could range from july to aug. I haven’t yet found a good 3rd year extension opportunity, World Vision doesn’t have any openings, but I am still on the look-out. I hope that it all works out.
The other day was pretty busy with the CTC, I was doing file paper work and whatnot just helping out when I saw that a guy had a CD4 count of 2!!! To start ARVs you have to have below a 300 because at that time your body is at serious risk of infection, your immune system is down. For someone to have a 2 they must be super sick. I then had a woman come in and while I was trying to find her file the other staff was talking about TB, I was half listening and then the women went to get up leaning forward and coughing on me at the same time, I turned and asked the staff who had TB and what do you know the woman who coughed on me does! Haha figures huh?
I was talking with my counterpart and a friend by all of the shops about just random things, getting in on all of the good gossip and who was pregnant with whom when she directed the convo to me. She gave me a good motherly talk about how I need to make sure not to get pregnant because my parents will be disappointed and that I need to finish my masters first. She said that all the guys in the village are liars and I need to make sure that if I want a boyfriend in Tanzania he couldn’t be married. Why you may ask? “Because his wife will find out and tell the wizards and get a potion and put it in your drink and you will be poisoned”. Some other advice is not to accept an opened drink from a man, are you thinking date rape? NOPE “love potion” from the wizard could be in there!! Gotta love the cross of cultures.
I was talking to another peace corps volunteer about how a villager broke her leg and I then said in Swahili “well, there are a lot of wizards and bad luck”. My friend gave the Swahili word of agreement and I walked outside where I realized that what I said was super Tanzanian and came back in said “OMG did you hear what I just said? What will happen when I get back to the states and blame things on bad luck and wizards?” haha
For new years I was in Mbeya staying with a lot of volunteers at lake Malawi enjoying the sun and a few hikes. We went to a waterfall with a lagoon at the bottom and it was soooo pretty on the hike and at the waterfall. In the movies they make standing under a waterfall look so cool and fun BUT in reality the water kinda hurts lol, its coming down pretty fast and its not like a shower head at all! We had a lot of fun and it was cool to meet people from all around. I then went to Mbeya town and stayed with a bunch of people at a friend’s apartment (he is a pcv but teaches at the university so has a nice apartment on campus). We bought a lot of voucher for our internet sticks and watched football all night!! The next day we just relaxed and went to bed kinda early bc the Michigan game was on at 4am. Glenn and I got up around 3:15 so that we had enough time to find a good website to watch and we ate cereal and cold milk (first time in country, it cost a pretty penny) and drank a few beers as the Wolverines kicked butt!!!! I can’t wait for next football season where I can see a football game at a normal hour on a bigger than 8 inch screen!

Monday, December 19, 2011

World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is December 1st every year and Peace Corps offers grants for volunteers to have events, this year my sitemate (close peace corps person) Tim and I both wrote grants for 500,000tsh (max that you can get) and decided to have a joint event for the whole Ward. Since our community is a farming one we decided to have the party on a Sunday (the 4th) when no one goes to the farm. We put together a great team and got to planning. We decided to have a few main events, which included free HIV testing, a baba cookoff (with women judges) and soccer games. By having free testing by an outside source more people would be willing to test, a baba cookoff was to show that men can cook too and to have a gender equality portion to the event and the soccer games was to guarantee that they young people came out. We also put together secondary school students who would do a few HIV raps and a play about the effects of HIV on the community.
On the day of the event we had to finish building the covered stage area and get all of the supplies to the appointed places, which was harder than you would think. We had testing in the clinic, cooking in the primary school, the stage at the fields and we had to get the supplies from Tim’s house (which was down the hill). We had music blaring, condom demos, HIV videos and testing all day while the men were cooking. We had fun games which included a contest to see how fast you could go with a spoon in your mouth with an egg on it (super funny), we also had men running round with tied kangas on to see how far they could go without them falling. We had many speeches, singing groups, drummers, theatre, free HIV pamphlets, magazines and an awesome Q&A session. The people involved were super thrilled and eager to answer and get involved which was great. To round off the day we had 2 soccer games going with all of the teams from the ward, followed by a championship game. Of course my village won!!!!! We then had everyone meet back up at the stage to announce all of the winners for the day (cooks, soccer games and how many people that tested). The head food tester (all were women) gave a great speech on how her husband helps her at home and had a lot of jokes about how some of the cooks put too little or too much salt. All in all it was just a GREAT experience where a lot of information was given and questions/myths were addressed. 94 people tested that day, 7 positive (they were referred to the CTC clinic in Milo). The district nurses worked the whole time they were there and didn’t even have time to eat because the line was so long at all times. I am super happy with the turn out and all of the work was super worth it!!!!
TANZANIA BILA YA UKIMWI INAWEZAKANA!!!! (Tanzania without HIV it is possible)