Everyday Encounters with Friendly Goats and (sometimesnotsofriendly) Obstacles

Eliza:

There are two black and white spotted baby goats taking shelter on our porch from the torrential downpour of rain that has been almost non-stop over the past two days. We have named them Jasper and Steve, the friendly goats. The rain could not have come at a better time as it has allowed us some time to think and reflect on the progress we have made in the project and in our new lives here in Tabora. We had a great meeting with our country director and senior project coordinator and they have helped us hop back on track. We have come up with a plan to get the group’s finances in order and even create a business plan!

We are both pretty nervous about creating a business plan and financial model since both of us avoided the business schools on our campuses like the plague, but with the help of the ground staff here we have faith that we can create a plan that will re-inspire the women and show them that we are on a long journey together that will not always be easy, but will end at a maisha bora (better life). The rain has provided us with an ample amount of time to begin forming some ideas and questions we have to think about during our planning. It has also brought in a welcome change in temperature. We have also found time to reflect on the first month of our stay in Tabora. It has been an incredible month with tremendous self-reflection and humbling self-awareness. Every day we encounter some of the most extraordinary life changing experiences alongside some of the harsh realities of everyday life, which have created the feeling of emotional schizophrenia. As we are so completely submerged in a culture and place that we do not fully understand it feels that in every day the best and worst of our emotions are brought to the surface and are constantly fighting to take center stage.

We have been welcomed into a community in a way I have never experienced. As we continue to build our relationships in Tabora it is heartwarming to sit with our neighbors and hear them say they are excited we are here for their son’s wedding. Hearing the women we work with enthusiastically say “Wanawake wanaweza” (Women Can!) after we figured out how to cook thinner chips to sell in larger bags in Korogwe fills us with such joy and anticipation for the future. Minutes after this something will happen to pull the rug out from under our feet to make us question what is going on and why we’re here. And our new Tanzanian friends are probably the most perceptive people I have ever met. Our neighbor, Mama Moki, can tell with one glance when we are feeling homesick, or tired. I have encountered a new kind of tired at the end of every day, a feeling that you only get when your brain has been pushed just up to the line marked overload. Simultaneously feeling more confused than ever before, but surer that you can overcome any and all obstacles life throws in your way.

As project coordinators with the 2Seeds Network, we are here because we believe that “all individuals and communities possess extraordinary potential.” We believe that through human capital development we can help create opportunities for our partners to use their potential to change their lives and overcome great obstacles. What I have come to realize is how our partners and our community in Tabora is doing the same thing for us. We are forced to come face to face with a variety of emotions that we must reflect on and try to understand. Every day we are pushed to the brink with the question of, “I have no idea what I’m doing, how is this all going to work out?” We are presented with our own obstacles that seem impossible to overcome. But overcome them we do, one at a time. We have a the capacity to overcome enormous obstacles when we work together, learn from each other, lean on and support each other, encourage each other, and love each other. We are all in this together so we must always go forward together.

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