Our participant Syhafitri, winner of our Weltenbürger scholarship, did a pre-medical internship in Tanzania and participated in our World Learner program in Zanzibar, where she learned about traditional medicine from a Zanzibari Herbalist. In our blog, she describes the differences between Zanzibar and Tanzania and tells us, why one can’t go to Tanzania without doing a safari and why her trip will always remain an unforgettable experience for her!
It was a cloudy day on a cold winter, as I left Halle (Saale) to Frankfurt am Main by train. This is my first time to travel alone to a far away country and was kind of excited with what is going to happen when I finally arrived in Moshi, Tanzania. New people, new cultures, and all of the new things that I will face soon!
KARIBU TANZANIA! (Welcome in Tanzania)
The airplane smoothly touched down the runway of Kilimanjaro International Airport after 8 hours flying. It was in the early morning, as the passengers left the aircraft. The weather was nice. The air was fresh and warm. And I, at that moment, was so excited. I couldn’t stop to thank God to bring me so far from home.
After taking my first pictures of Africa I went inside to the airport building and applied my visa in the immigration office. I didn’t face any difficulties in the airport and got a visa for 3 months.
My first impression of Tanzania was, “Wow, the people are friendly and kind! I think, my 2 months residence here are going to be great.’“
A driver from World Unite! – the organization, which organized my volunteering and internship program in Africa – picked me up and brought me to my host family in Moshi. The journey from the airport to my host family’s house was quite far away. It took more than 1 hour by car.
The long road was empty, the birds sang nicely and the sun started to come out from the east. On my left and right side I could see many trees, various crops and an endless view of steppe. Not far from my sight, there was mount Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa with 5895 meter high above sea level. I could see its snowy peak without any clouds which usually covered the top. It was incredible! One of my bucket list has been accomplished. The driver said to me many times, ‘’Oh Fitri, you are so lucky to see mount Kilimanjaro clearly!’’ And oh yeah, it was a nice day being warmly welcomed from both peaks of mount Kilimanjaro, Kibo and Mawenzi. I couldn’t hide my smile along the way to Moshi. It was a great start at the beginning of my adventure in Africa.
My first day in Tanzania was cool. I met almost all of the coordinators in Moshi and few volunteers from Germany who had also an orientation and cultural briefing on that day. We had a city tour together and were shown few places by Joseph, one of our coordinators.
Unlike Germany at that time, Moshi was so warm with its busy town on that day. We could see daladala (minibus), bajaj (auto rickshaw), bodaboda (taxi bike) everywhere in the town. People in Moshi use it as public transportations. The town itself isn’t big, but the center is crowded though. Along the big road we can see a lot of shops, art galleries, supermarkets, local restaurants and hotels. There is also a market, in which people sell their crops, such as beans, maize, bananas, and many more. The local tailors sew their handmade clothes, wallets, bags and headscarfs from Kitenge (a traditional fabric from east, west and central Africa) and sell it with good price in the street.
After having a city tour I was introduced to my host family. Family Tesha. They belong to Chagga’s tribe (the most famous Tanzanian tribe in Kilimanjaro region). My host father is a taxi driver and my host mother is a housewife. There are eight people living in the house, such as my guest parents, their son and his wife, two grandchildren, a housemaid and a worker. The house is big and has front and back yard. They planted various types of flowers and trees in front of the house. On the backyard there are a cowshed, hen houses and hutch. Also a big plantation of banana, sugar cane, maize and mango trees.
I still remember the time, when I came back from work and chilled under the mango tree in the garden. Or just went around the backyard and talked with people about life while staring at the view of Kilimanjaro mountain. They are warm-hearted people who treated me very well. They always cooked delicious local foods everyday and taught me about the agricultural system which is practiced for their livestock in this family. Besides it, I was also allowed to milk their dairy cows. It was a little bit hard but yet an unforgettable experience!
Anyway, this family has the best chai milk tea ever! I always got it every day for my breakfast. (P.S dear chai milk tea, you’ll always be missed!).
Oh yeah, about language barrier, actually my host father and his son can speak english fluently. But unfortunately, another family members can’t speak it well. So, sometimes it was hard for me to communicate or to tell what I want. At that moment, the body language played its role 😀
They also taught me some Kiswahili words (national language in Tanzania). It wasn’t that bad, although I had difficulties at the beginning because of the greetings. I was just confused, with which response I should react to the people if they greet me on the street. But, I could count from 1 to 10 without any problems XD.
On the second day I was picked up by Joseph to go to my placement. It was a health care dispensary and palliative care in Moshi, which is quite far away from my host family’s house. So, daladala for going there and back was required. It is a small hospital with a doctor in charge and five staffs, such two nurses, a pharmacist and two laboratory technicians. They were also kind to me and taught me patiently about how the things are working in that hospital. Even though I have been there just for a month, I already learnt a lot about medicine. My first two weeks were just for adaptation and overcoming the culture shock. I was longing for friends and missed Germany so bad. I had homesick.
But unlike my first weeks, on the next two weeks (my last weeks in Moshi), I could totally enjoy my work there. It was an unforgettable experience to take part in malaria and UTI (Urinary tract infection) test, giving injection to the patients and to learn about the various types of medicines. Another cool thing was, the doctor allowed me to assist her in the room and explained about the illnesses. At that moment I felt like I am a real medical student 😀
On the last day of my volunteering program we had a little farewell party in the hospital. We cooked chapatti (my favorite food in Moshi after rice with coconut milk), mchuzi (vegetables curry) and fried chickens. It was so nice but sad at the same time. It was a little bit hard to leave Moshi after one month volunteering.
Some people say, ‘’if you are in Africa but don’t take any safari tour, it means your trip is worthless and less nice.’’ So, on my birthday, I decided to take 2 days and 1 night safari in Tarangire National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area. It was cool to see four of big five african animals there and enjoy the beauty of Baobab and Acacia trees. Another bucket list wishes have already fulfilled!
The Safari tour was worthwhile though to do, at least once in a lifetime ☺ and this one became one of cool experiences of my life!
After having a lot of experiences in Moshi and learning about the cultures, I flew to Unguja, an island that belongs to Zanzibar archipelago, which is known as a spice island.
The anxiety came out as I landed in Abeid Amani Karume International Airport. It was in the evening after enjoying the sunset on the flight from Dar Es Salaam. I was worried, mainly about my new flat mates. Are they friendly? Will they accept me? Can I interact with them? And so on. There were a lot of annoying questions in my head as a driver drove me to Stone Town, western part of the island, where I will stay in for the next 4 weeks. I lived in a shared rent house with other volunteers. This time I had to take care of myself, because there was nobody who will prepare delicious breakfast, cook my dinner, give the hot water for me to take a bath and worry about me if I come home late.
Zanzibar is amazing!
I didn’t think before that, this time in Zanzibar would be the best time of the whole journey. As I had a city tour on the next day I felt like, I was in Indonesia. Everywhere I went, I could find most of the women and girls are wearing the hijab (headscarf). Also the moslem there used to say Salaam Alaikum (a moslem greeting which means, may peace be upon you) when they get in to daladala or when they meet people in the street. I was impressed! Besides it, the people are friendly and kind, the foods are super delicious, the beaches and sunset in Stone Town are amazing and I felt quite safe in Zanzibar. Living in Stone town reminds me a lot of Venice in Italy, because it is also like a labyrinth with a lot of small alleys inside. People can easily get lost during the first days in Stone Town.
While enjoying the evening in Forodhani Park we should not forget to taste the local foods (e.g Shawarma, Zanzibar pizza, urojo, seafoods, breads, chapatti) and beverages (e.g sugar cane juice with lemon and ginger, tamarind juice, avocado juice, passion juice and many more) in the night market. Most of the foods are expensive but it is worth to try ☺
In Zanzibar I had my agricultural internship for a month. I learnt about herbal medicine in a herbal hospital from the best herbalist in the island, who is famous as Mr. Madawa or in English, Mr. Herbalist. He is a great teacher, who taught me not just about the medicinal plants, but also about an important role of religion (in this case, Islam) in herbal medicine. During the lessons I used to have a lot of funs, because besides theory I had also practice for collecting herbs and making medicines. In other days we had spice tour in Kizimbani, which Mr. Madawa and the local people explained us about the herbs and spices in that area, and also visited ZARI (Zanzibar Agricultural Research Institute).
Finally, this amazing journey is over. It was an unforgettable experience in my life to learn about many things from a far away country. Being a solo traveler and challenged to discover new things in the new places are not bad at all. I don’t mind to try it again in another opportunity 😀
Baadaye Tanzania! (See you later Tanzania!) ☺