Currently, I’m watching Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” on East African TV (EATV). Oh the good ‘ol days…
The end of the third week is here! It feels more like the end of three months, but the time here is going by very quickly. I am getting used to the more so daily routine of having tea and peanut butter sandwiches (sometimes fried eggs) for breakfast, going to class for six hours, coming home to watch the news and eat dinner, then going to bed. In the process, I am trying to absorb as much as I can about life in
The past week of class went really well. My group members and I interviewed stakeholders for our HIV and infant feeding case study.
On Tuesday, we interviewed an MPH grad student who just conducted research on HIV positive mothers in Moshi. We were supposed to meet him at 9am, but we didn’t meet up with him until 10:30. I am now fully aware of the concept of CPT (colored people time) that my friends always talk about (haha!). It’s no big deal though; I have no problem with people taking their time just as long as things get done. So, he took three of us to a small health clinic near town where I thought we would interview patients, instead we just sat in a room and interviewed him. We asked him about the differences in feeding practices he observed between rural and urban mothers, what he thought about national and local support for Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT) of HIV programs, and several other questions about infant feeding. I had a lap top with me so I typed almost everything he said. Then, the next day, we went to Uru Kyaseni, a rural health clinic located outside of MoTown on the slopes of Kilimanjaro, and interviewed a midwife and pregnant mother. The ride to Uru was very bumpy as we went through narrow unpaved streets but, it was very scenic. All of our interviewees were very valuable resources for our assignment.
With a week and a half left to develop policy options and complete our project, I am very happy about my group’s work and look forward to our final presentation.
In strangers we trust? (Excerpt from reflection):
Last weekend, as I walked back from town with Roslyn, Adey and Jen, a man was walking behind us. He followed us from the roundabout off
Ni me shiba (I am full)!:
One of my classmates said, “I am never hungry in
Bwana Chuwa explained to me that Mama makes food based on the number of people currently in the house. I assume that whatever is not eaten is used as compost since the food doesn’t last for long and cannot be reheated.
One of my classmates also pointed out to me that the meals at my home stay are very healthy. I didn’t realize that until I thought about it. Bwana Chuwa has diabetes and two weeks ago, when I first arrived, Mama was admitted to KCMC’s hospital because her blood pressure doubled. So, the meals at home reflect how aware and informed the family is about their health statuses. All of the meals I have had up are well balanced. I have never eaten so much cabbage, spinach, and cucumber (which are in rotation, haha) before. But, I’m happy to be eating healthy food with them.
Lost in translation:
So a couple of nights ago, Adey pointed out to me that Mama had a new hairstyle. Usually, she wears two pigtails, but that evening her hair was pulled back into a neat bun. I used this as an opportunity to compliment her in Swahili. During the Chaga tour, I learned how to say a female is beautiful, mbrembo. I went up to Mama and said this to her, as I turned to continue making tea, she slapped me on my shoulder. I asked her if I said something wrong and she said, “Mama, hapana (no) mbrembo”. I was pretty sure that the word meant beautiful. Adey and I asked Richard what the word meant, and he said that mbrembo shouldn’t be used for older women like Mama. According to Adey, I said Mama was “hot”. Then, everything made sense! I should’ve said mzuri which means the same thing but for older women.
I’ve learned that in Swahili certain words should be used with certain people, just like code switching in the states, but here I feel like it’s on another level. Whenever I greet someone older than me I have to say Shikamoo (a respectful greeting to the elderly) and if I’m with teenagers or young adults, I say mambo (what’s up?). If a young child is greeting me, he or she has to say Shikamoo to me. That makes me feel old! I don’t think of myself as being an elderly person to a seven year old, but that’s the way things work around here.
And another thing! Some of the words in Swahili differ by one letter and have completely different meanings. It goes unnoticed in English, but it’s extremely noticeable when learning another language and can make a big difference when someone is trying to understand what you’re saying. For example, mfugo (domestic animal) and mfuko (bag, pocket) or matango (cucumber) and matengo(basket).
Some more diffs:
I am convinced that every word in Swahili ends with a vowel. I am still searching for one that will prove me wrong. To be continued…
Men hold hands in public. It does not mean they are homosexuals; it’s just part of the culture. Oh and on that note, homosexuality is illegal in
The first day of the week is Saturday (Jumamosi).
More of a time difference, but TZ is 7hrs ahead of EST. I don’t think my mother remembers this; she called me at 3 in the morning. She asked me, “How are you, how is everything?” I said, “Mummy, I’m fine”. She thought I was catching a cold because I didn’t sound too well and I said, “No, I was just sleeping”. I told her it was 3 and her response, which made me laugh a little, was, “Oh, well it’s only 8 here”. She let me off the phone and I went back to sleep. Thanks mother…
On Wednesday night as Adey and I were doing some work, the electricity unexpectedly went out. It was really late, but Mama gave us some candles and soon we went to bed. The electricity was out for almost twenty four hours when it came back on Thursday night. The last time I remember being without electricity for that long was during the blackout of ’06 in
Fun fact: Safari is Kiswahili for trip. I didn’t know that when I came here; we use it so much, it’s practically English!
On Saturday, we went on a safari at
I will try my best to sum up today (Sunday): Adey and I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner with the family, we met older brother Venance, watched Next, Step Up, and are about to watch Dirty Dancing Havana Nights :-).
Almost done with class, then
More on that later…