Working for Viafrica

Trip Start May 03, 2011
Trip End Jan 31, 2013

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Where I stayed
Viafrica guesthouse

Flag of Tanzania  ,
Saturday, May 7, 2011

For 3 weeks I will be working for the company Viafrica ( Viafrica is a Dutch company with offices in Amsterdam, Kenya and Moshi (Tanzania) where I will be working. They collect computers and information from the Netherlands which they ship to Africa. Here the computers will be installed on secondary schools and the teachers will be trained to transfer the knowledge to the children. Together with Andre (another Dutch consultant) we will analyze the current business process and try to improve wherever possible. 

Week 1
In this first week we got to know Moshi and the Tanzanian life. I had a little bit of experience so the basic Swahili was still there and every day I am absorbing new words and sayings. Saturday night we already got the taste of the Moshi nightlife and even went to the disco called ' La Liga'. It felt good to be there again and see the dancing Tanzanians having a good time. Sunday we had the idea to go to a church and that was quite something. Not an authentic Tanzanian service but an American show was what we got. Pastor Craig told us about 'THE LOOOOOORDDDD JESUS' and 'do I hear an AAMENNN'. It was more a congress with a keynote speaker convincing us of the Christian company we should support. A strange but amazing experience to see that happen in East Africa.

After the first weekend, Monday was our first working day and it started with a meeting in which everyone (8 people) introduced themselves including us. In the first days we spoke/ interviewed almost everyone and asked them about their position and work and what were positive points and what could be improved. 
On Tuesday and Thursday we came along with a Service Visit (20 computers) and an Installation (60 computers) on a school. Together with Terewa (Head of technicians) and Freddy (technician) we went and helped wherever possible. During these days we saw how the schools were like and witnessed some children getting hit with a stick by the teachers. That was quite a cruel punishment but according to Terewa this was the normal thing in Tanzania and he got a lot of it when he was young. We told him if you do this in The Netherlands you would go to jail!!
During the service visit suddenly we didn't have power anymore and Freddy discovered that the server was disconnected. When looking a bit closer we discovered that one of the teachers had put his telephone charger in the power plug where the plug of the server was...hahaha... This is really a T.I.A. (This Is Africa) experience. Then Thursday, we went to another school and at first sight it was really neat and better than we have ever seen. But Freddy got a closer look and saw that the electricity was so tight that no wires could go through, result: lot of discussion and at the end of the day only a tenth of the work was done. A totally waste of time but a good insight and lots opportunities for improvement.

Apart from the work there are also other things to mention:
  • For example that we are at the foot of mount Kilimanjaro and after a week still didn't see it due to the clouds;
  • We went for dinner and I ordered fish and got only the head of the fish.....disgusting;
  • Andre bought a used telephone from a guy for which we had to walk to the suburbs of Moshi (Njoro) to get it and got ourselves a dinner from the street for 1 euro;
  • If you go for a dinner that they just name a price and after you ask for details you will see that you have to pay a couple of thousand less (2.000 Tsh = 1 euro).
Week 2
Back from a safari weekend and a visit to a Masai village and lots of work to do. A typical day at the office looks like:
  • 7.00 – 8.00: Get out of bed, get a shower
  • 8.00 – 8.30: Breakfast (tea, 2 eggs with bread , orange juice) and a 'Totaal 30' pill
  • 8.30 – 9.00: Start working, saying Habari za asubuhi (good morning) to everyone
  • 10.30 – 11.30: Get a snack for 100 Tsh each (=5 euro cents) from 2 ladies who work everyday in the kitchen at the company to prepare these snacks and lunch
  • 13.00: Lunch (rice, pilau, sauce with vegetables and meat, sweet sour vegetables,
    piri piri)
  • 17.00 – 17.30: Stop working                                                                                                                                                                                                                        
You wouldn't say so but there is still lots of time to work on our solutions. Although the power and the internet is lost quite often our work has to go on and we improvise all day long. Also we have heard that the power company will plan a big maintenance which will cause power loss all
over Tanzania and it is even possible that some places will be without power for a week!! But rumors are also daily practice here so you'll never know what will happen.

In general, Moshi is quite a peaceful town but last Sunday night 1 am things changed as we heard from the Viafrica director that 3 people got shot (dead) in the night by the police in our street because they were robbing a weapons store!! Not so peaceful after all but very strange that we didn't hear anything...
For the rest sports was the main theme this week. After one week we kind of got the taste of living in Moshi which meant working during the day and after that get a little bit of exercise. Monday I went running with Franzi (German girl who lives here for 1,5 year) and Donato (Italian guy who lives here for 3 years), Tuesday it was time for a game of volleyball and Andre also joined. I also heard that the Viafrica director played tennis and I could join on Wednesday. Very old school tennis court, racket and balls but a great experience of playing tennis in Tanzania :) Around 7 pm we had to stop because it got dark and there were no lights. Thursday I went for running again but got lost and was quite far away from the city so I asked a guy if he could give me a ride on his Boda-Boda (motorcycle) which saved me about 2 to 3 km. Thursday night we had planned to go to the 'Watering Hole' to catch a movie but due to power loss it was closed, T.I.A. So, we just went for dinner and had a quit evening.

That was it for the sports during the week because Friday we were invited for the Bachelor party from Achim, a German guy who will marry Gloria, a Tanzanian girl. We had quite a good night with dinner at an Indian restaurant where we met lots of interesting people. After that we had a drink and Achim told us that we were welcome on his wedding starting Saturday 14.30 in church so we couldn't refuse such an offer of course.

Saturday morning we had arranged for 2 mountain bikes and we were planning to go up Kilimanjaro to Mweka village and the entrance gate. A 3 hour drive up the mountain where the last km's were quite steep that we were obliged to get of our bikes and walk. But after all the hard work we were blessed with a 30 – 40 min descent where we sometimes went like 50 km/hr downhill! In total 60 km up and down and we climbed for 982 meters up to 1700 meters (statistics generated by Andre's Iphone app.).
After all this excitement we had to get ready for the wedding which was quite the experience. It's hard to describe it briefly so there will be an extensive blog on ISMagazine soon! The wedding started for us at 14.30 hrs and we went back at 23.30 hrs so it was a long ceremony and stuff but definitely worth it. Since it was a Saturday night so that means La Liga, the local disco.

On Sunday we went for another trip to TPC, the sugar plant. This sounds a bit boring but this company employs 6000 people and is verrrrrrrrrry big and has miles and miles of sugarcane. We
would like to go by Dalla-Dalla (small bus where 20 people fit in) and asked the guy if our bikes would fit in. A bit of rope does the trick and off we went. 

After a 45 minute trip we got out in a nice environment and went to a rural village with a handful of 'houses' where we drank a coke. This is what we would like to see, go to places where they don't ever see a Mzungu (white people). Next destination was TPC where we could join 'Murti' (Tanzanian guy with an Indian appearance and roots) who works at TPC and asked us to join him for lunch. Once there we met all kinds of people from South-Africa, Australia, Mauritius and a Liberian/ American girl. Really strange what kind of different nationalities you come across and what kind of stories you hear about people working for the UN, NGO's or ex-hunters... Good, we have had a good time during this South-African 'Braai' and after a few hours decided to go back by bike to Moshi for a quiet night to be prepared for the last week of work.   

Week 3
The final week started not that good for us since I had diarrhea and felt like shit (haha). After lunch (which I didn't take) I went to bed and later I heard that Lina, Erwin, Andre, Achim etc were also sick. Erwin went to a doctor and the result was a bacterial infection due to food
poisoning. So the food at the wedding was not so good after all. I was quite alright after feeling weak, having diarrhea, and laying in bed from Monday 2 pm to Tuesday 9 am but the others were also vomiting and had a little fever so Monday and Tuesday not much work was done at Viafrica.
The rest of the week was relaxed because we needed to recover from the bacterial disease. At Viafrica we finished our work and gave a final presentation in which we summarized our findings and ended with a few recommendations. As a 'thank you' gift we invited all staff (including the guards) for a dinner which was good and we have had a good time. We also received a small gift like a photo list and the Tanzanian flag, nice.
Friday night went for a few beers and Saturday I said goodbye to my buddy Andre with which I have spent the last 3 weeks. Saturday night watched the Champions League final with 10.000 Tanzanians in Ushirika stadium, great experience! Sunday was cycling day with my local friend (rafiki mzuri) Samy. We cycled for 6 hours (10 am to 4 pm) up the mountain through corn fields, bushes, and bumpy bumpy roads. Finally made it to the Chagga cave which was a remainder of the battle between the Masai and the Chagga people like 200 years ago. A really narrow muddy
cave of maybe 70 to 80 meters long.]  
For the rest 'Hakuna matata' is the theme now because I am preparing for the Kilimanjaro climb which will start tomorrow June 1. 

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