Now that we’ve settled in, we’re starting to get our year of the project rolling.
Here are some details about where the group, Kikundi cha Jitegemee, is. Between when Ros left and our arrival, they have not met as a group or done any collective work on their own. Pretty much all of their gardens have died or are only growing tembele, a very easy plant to cultivate. The exceptions to this are the two (2!) gardens owned by Tumu, which are excellently maintained, watered, and harvested from. The first time she met Ashley she gave us more lettuce from her garden than we could manage to eat that week.
Our garden has scattered plants still growing from last year growing, some of which are in really bad shape (our cassava plants, which look like three foot high trees, have all been stripped on their leaves and their trunks are at 45° angles to the ground.) Only about 1/4th of the fence they built last year is intact. Much of this is due to the fact that someone added a water line that runs through our garden- leaving a deep trench where they dug to put it underground. Ashley has begun repairing the fence and weeding, so our garden is slowly beginning to get underway. We’re still feeling a bit overwhelmed, which makes me want to hide in bed, but makes her want to do something constructive, so she’s been putting in a lot of work on the garden.
On Monday we visited each of our project partners with Ana and got to sit with and talk to each of them. Here are some brief bios of each of the women (our “cast of characters” if you will):
Mama Mudi- Chairperson of the group. She is married to Mustafah, a carpenter and very sweet person and father. He is really excited about us being here and tries very hard to have conversations despite the language barrier. She has four children, the oldest two of which are in secondary school (not all Tanzanians continue on to secondary school) and she lives right next to the very noisy maize mill. Her garden currently has a great fence (that she’s been making even better this week), but the plants have completely died.
Tumu- She is married to the security head of Tabora and has three girls- all of whom are lots of fun to hang out with. She owns goats and a bomba (water tap) and is short and enthusiastic. She has both a large and a small garden, which are flourishing, and she regularly harvests from both to cook with.
Angel- We’ve only met her once, as she was in the hospital when we arrived. She used to be married to the local farming educator, so she knows how to grow things well. She has many decorations in her house (unusual) and lives in a number of connected houses with a fenced-in yard. She has two gardens, both of which are in ruins.
Mama Lukia- Mother of Mama Sofia (below). She had eight kids and lives in the old sisal housing and has a house in town. She is very sweet and helps take care of her grandchildren and great-grandchild. She has a small yard with many ducks, but we have not seen evidence of her garden plot.
Mama Sofia- Daughter of Mama Lukia. Very kind, has five or six kids spread out over 25 years. She is currently nursing the youngest one. She also lives in the sisal housing and has a small yard in the complex, whose plants have died. After it rained she tilled and planted tembele (a green) outside of the sisal housing. I’m excited she did that, although when we came back few days later the plants had all been eaten by goats because there was no fence or protection.
Mama Salome- Our next-door neighbor, who we didn’t realize was one of our project partners until we visited her with Ana. She is often around our house (or her daughter is with her granddaughter) and her bustani is next to ours. We didn’t even realize her garden was a garden until we were told so, as it was not planted last year and only has a teany bit of fence built. She seems to be the least enthusiastic.
Bonus: Our Dogs!
We have two wonderful dogs (mbwa) that were being taken care of by our landlord Mama Tabia in 2Seeds’ absence. The first on is Bino (short for Albino), whom Ros and Rachael adopted and she is a small, light colored dog. The second, which we thought was Bino’s child, but apparently is not, is a puppy. I really like him, as he has lots of energy and wants to play with us all the time. He often bites my hand softly, which scares all the Taborans- Tanzanians are generally frightened of dogs. They both have fleas, which are making the little one (Bino Mdogo) unhappy, and everyone in town, despite not liking dogs, seems very concerned with the fact that they need medicine. We are planning on getting some from Dar es Salaam soon.