My life has turned into a bunch of “lasts.” My last time seeing friends I have made here, my last time gathering around the table with what has become my family, my last time going to my favorite market where they know me by name, my last time swimming in the warm and oh-so-blue Indian Ocean, my last time laughing with others about my attempt to speak and understand kiswahili, my last time holding on for dear life on a daladala (city bus), my last time climbing those 3 flights of stairs to the whitewashed office that is SELFINA (the partner Mico-Finance Institution I am assigned to), my last night sleeping under a mosquito net, my last Monday, my last Tuesday, my last Wednesday….the list goes on…
If I had to sum up what I have learned in this experience, it is to be patient and flexible (well, as much as my Type A personality will allow!). Working on an internet based system when internet is haphazard and sometimes non-existent for periods of up to 2 weeks, one has to be patient and flexible. Having malaria far from one’s home base and still having to achieve certain goals in a short period of time, one has to be patient and flexible. Driving for up to 2 hours, swerving through traffic on the main roads and then trying not to smash one’s head on the roof top on some of the bumpiest dirt roads I have ever seen only to arrive to a location to find the client you are looking for not there, one has to be patient and flexible. Trying to make sure when journaling that information does not get lost in translation (sometimes the client will talk very expressively for 10 minutes and the Kiva Coordinator will simply tell me the client is doing well), one has to be patient and flexible. Understanding SELFINA’s capabilities and the Kiva requirements and making that relationship sustainable, one has to be patient and flexible.
Without a doubt, this experience has been very unique and inspiring. Being invited to these women’s (SELFINA makes loans only to women in order to empower them in society) business and homes and learning about their struggles and their future dreams and plans has given me a peek at the strength and potential Tanzania possesses.
It has truly been an honor./>