My Mamas and their babies.

Artisan headshots WC 027 Mubayange 063 Mubayange 079
Artisan headshots WC 024
Photos taken by our intern Yasmine while visiting our artisans throughout the villages. I strongly feel that African mothers are a different breed of human. There is a peculiar sense of  selflessness that, having experienced this first hand with Mme. Kimou, envelopes children and strips the mother of any sense of personhood. It’s like these Mamas become just tools to protect and nurture their children until they can take care of themselves. Like they can not be people until their families are ok. Does that make sense?

It’s a scary notion, but also very sane at the same time.

Hello internet friends!

I just got back from a wonderful two weeks in Dar and Zanzibar 🙂 I went swimming, dancing, saw P Square in concert, ate all the food, and of course I did some work for WomenCraft (Holiday Season=ALL the craft fairs).

My coworkers and I even took some photos of the products out on the beach in Zanzibar! The photos came out beautifully! My girl Yasmine does it big behind the camera, she even caught my big behind in one of the shots! Its cool doe, she made my waist look small 🙂

Anywho,  I’m back in rainy cold Ngara, but in 3 weeks I’ll be back in Zanzibar for NewYears!

It is good oh.

Me and my Mamas

Me and my mamas 🙂

Seriously, living here has been a challenge. I have my ups and downs, many downs, some days are filled with my lowest hours lol. BUT, the instances I get to spend time with our artisans, laugh with them, dance with them, its really makes me feel like “Ok, this is why you are here, like really, this was the purpose.”

So, this is an appreciation post to all the mamas at WomenCraft, thank you for sharing your happiness.

More Tanzania Weddings!

Another weekend, another wedding! Well this time, one of our artisans got married and of course the whole staff had to go 🙂

It was in a little village called Benaco, about 45 minutes from where I live in Ngara. It was definitely eventful! From the 3 hour church service, to standing up and introducing myself in swahili in front of all the guests, it was quite the day lol.

Lots of fun though, I always enjoy outings out of Ngara 🙂

Saturday in the bush 🙂 Just sitting in my 2nd office using the internet, skyping, catching up on celebrity gossip (Kimye got engaged, how exciting, I’m mad Kimmy had a baby and is smaller than me now.)

Anywho, I’ve been a bit stressed and cranky this month, mostly tired of getting bug bites and taking bucket showers. But as of this month I have 6 months left of my contract so I’ve just been contemplating my life, whats next for me.

Law school? Moving to NYC? I may have the opportunity to work for my current org from Europe. Staying in Africa, but in a larger city, Nairobi? Dar es Salaam? Accra? Kigali? Sigh, I dunno, but I’m so blessed to have options.

In less important news, I’ve lost 6 pounds in a month from cutting out ALL carbs, running, and doing Jillian Michaels 30 day shred. This is great news as I am spending New Years on a beach with skinny white girls.

Me and my WomenCraft staff at a wedding last weekend!

We went and drank Konyagi, and talked about life, and relationships, and we asked ourselves; are we all single because we do things like move to the Tanzanian bush? Or have we moved to the Tanzanian bush because we are always single?You get it? LOL.

I know I’m still single because I have yet to meet any man who could stop me from traveling the world in search of employment and adventure. And no, I don’t have commitment issues like all my ex boyfriends would suggest, I just haven’t met a person completely worth committing to! I mean really, if an Idris Elba look alike with a degree and a love for his mama wanted me to stop being a nomad and settle down in the suburbs with him…uhhh I would not pick the Tanzanian bush over him!

I ain’t dumb.

The WomenCraft Mamas.

One of our Fall interns is a digital genius and is making all types of collages with photos of our artisans. And of course…per usual…I love it.

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Yesterday the Fall interns and I went to visit one of our artisan groups in Burundi, right on the border of Tanzania, only about 30 minutes from our office. It was such a nice trip, especially since I hadn’t seen these artisans since they began their literacy classes a couple months ago.

They are progressing so well! They are reading words and short phrases in Swahili now, and there are even a few who have moved into a beginners english class! Imagine my surprise when they were able to great me in beautiful english!

Lord have mercy, I almost fell out, our capacity building manager (and my wonderful roomie) has done a great job with this program.

These mamas are always growing and I love it.

My Tanzanian staff! I have left them for 2 weeks back in Ngara, I love them but lord I’m so happy to have a break!

Sometimes it can get overwhelming to manage so many things in the office AND live next door, but they for sure try to help a sista out and I appreciate the hell out of them…most of the time lol.

Views from my evening run trough Murgwanza. Its so beautiful, I’ll never get used to this view being outside my window. Just like I never got used to walking by the White House everyday in DC or whizzing by the Eiffel  Tower on my way to class in Paris. 

Some things are meant to slow you down.

Mama Anjelika!

She is the leader of one of our Artisan groups. I just sweat her, when she comes to the office I drop everything I am doing and hug her and speak my sad Swahili to her. She will hug me and rock me back and forth and say “ohhhhh stephania, my stephania”, yall know I love it!

She is tall, regal, and beautiful…clearly. She’s a mother, a genocide survivor, and an example to the rest of our artisans of what a leader, a good leader should look like.

Props to her.

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Nungwi, Zanzibar. The most magical place. I was lounging on the beach, floating in the warm water, I even went snorkeling! Next to Abidjan, this may be my favorite place to be in the world.

Who needs Miami or the Amalfi Coast when we’ve got beaches like these right here in Africa.

This continent has everything I need.

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I first visited Stone Town, Zanzibar last year, when I took my lil back packing trip through East Africa. I liked it, I really did, I thought it was beautiful, but I was never very comfortable there. I was scared of getting lost in the crazy maze of tiny side streets and alleyways, I did not understand a lick of Swahili, and just traveling alone as a woman made me anxious in general.

Luckily for me, I had to travel there again for work a week a go! Coming back, a year later, understanding enough Swahili to get around, remembering where things were, I felt so confident! I was able to let my guard down and really enjoy the beauty and mix of African and Arabic culture that is Stone Town. I really love Zanzibar, sana.

Getting to Stone Town from Dar es Salaam was a damn headache though. First, the ferries that travel the two hours to Zanzibar have a resident price and a foreigner price. Wells the foreigner price is a joke and basically for the Europeans who have money to pay $50 for a 2 hour boat ride. So of course I get into the line for the residents. The lady at the counter looked at me like “girl bye”, how are you trying to get a resident rate and you are clearly a foreigner and don’t speak Swahili?  I told her I work here and I deserve the resident rate, we argued for a bit and then she basically kicked me out of line. Ha!

So I went to a sketchy boat company with a sketchy boat and they let me pay the resident rate of course. Moral of the story is, never give up on spending less money on something lol.