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.

The Kimous.

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Sigh. I’m back in the Tanzania bush y’all. I went home for two weeks and it was AMAZING. I got to see my whole family, we had sleepovers, cookouts, had movies nights, had dance parities in the living room.

I can’t stress enough how completely ecstatic I was the whole time. It really is making coming back to Tanzania difficult for me. I have so much back home, my family brings me such joy, I get to eat pancakes, and go to dance class, and have brunch with my best friends, and get a pedicure, wear make up, watch House Hunter international.

It all makes me wonder what the hell I am doing in the bush. Fighting to communicate, being eaten alive by bugs every night, insomnia, the feeling of complete seclusion, having no personal space or private life.

The struggle has been real. But through it all, my bad days and the good ones I have a strong feeling I am where I need to be, at least until this one year contract is over in April. I sometimes hit a wall with my life here, but somehow I still feel like this exactly what I should be doing.

I went to Nairobi three weeks ago on a 4 day layover on my way home to DC. I can not rave enough when talking about that city. The vibrancy, the art scene  the diversity, there is so much love and life there. It’s such an impressive city.

I had made a few friends there from last year when I was traveling through East Africa so I met up with one at Westgate Mall for lunch and wine. It was such a fantastic day. There was a jewelry and crafts market on the roof where I got the most beautiful gold African continent earrings. And we sat down with two of his friends for tapas at a Spanish style restaurant on the outside patio right at the entrance of the mall. I drank almost a whole bottle of wine 🙂 We shared food and laughter and stories about our travels, it was a beautiful day in one of my favorite cities.

And now, to see that the same mall where I was sitting is under attack, and to know the people who were sitting in the seats I was just drinking wine in, could be dead, it has really shaken me to my core. The sadness I feel for all those people who have lost loved ones, its so profound, so real. I pray that God comforts them in this dark time, and I pray that the hostages that may still be trapped inside find solace in their faith.

So devastating.

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.

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.

So my mother is my best friend. Through all her terrorizing as a child and her abuse of parental power, now thats I’m 26, she and I are inseparable  even with continents between us.

I love skyping with her because she is the damn funniest person I know, and today she was getting ready for her flight from DC to Abidjan so she was showing me her new sunglasses and her new watch. I DIED. She cracks me the hell up! Talking about how she found them in the clearance bin at the TJ Maxx, go mommy! Shoot she even took the lap top down to the dining room to show me the fou fou and sauce I was missing out on! I can not deal with her.

But what made me cry was when she showed me the locket with my third grade picture inside, a dinky metal thing I gave her when I was a kid, and she still takes it with her everywhere! I cried because I hope I will one day be as loving of a mother as she is. She has never made me feel anything less than perfect and utterly gorgeous and for that I am eternally grateful. She loves me and has shown me that every day of my life. I can not wait to have a child and I pray I can be as beautiful of a mother as she is to me.

I love you mama.

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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.

My co-workers have been talking about something called the WHO TARCH since May. I kept asking them what the hell it was, what did it mean, but the Swahili-English language barrier was too real for me to understand.

Well it happened this weekend and I found out its actually called the Uhuru Torch, Uhuru meaning Freedom in Swahili. It was a marathon parade started by Nyerere, and basically consists of a team of Tanzanian officials traveling from region to region with this Olympic style torch. They stop along the way and wave and give speeches about Tanzanian unity.

Well, they made one of our WomenCraft production centers their stop in the Kagera region!  So they came with their entourage, and spoke about female empowerment and it was all very festive. Soooo many people were there, I’d say about 100 at each stop. This torch is quite an event.

And of course it ended with music and drinking, lots of drinking.

You know you are a questionable supervisor when your summer intern turns to you and is like “Ive consumed more alcohol here in the last two days than when I’m at university in GERMANY.” I said damn. Hahaha.

Anywho, I took my interns out to the one of three clubs/bars in town and I was surprised at how live it was! Usually we drink gin and may play UNO, but last Friday was wild. Dancers, a DJ, an MC, the whole town was there! All 25 of us lol.

It was a fun time, we stayed out until three in the morning at which point my IT guy (read: the man who fixes our computers SOMETIMES) took me home on his motorcycle and professed his love. I told him he was too young for me and he drove too slowly.

So my co-worker and I went to Arusha a couple weeks ago for a fair. Apparently this was a very expensive fair to attend, but since we are a social enterprise, they let us come for free and stuck us in the “charity tent”! HA!

Anywho, it was a great way to meet different hotels and lodges in the Arusha area who may want to use our products. And of course we had African men coming up to our stand to chat and ask if we were single. THE STRUGGLE. All of them kept taking my business card and I am still getting texts and calls like “Its me Phillip! You gave me your number in Arusha!” No Phillip I did not, do not try to confuse me.

Anywho, Arusha was nice (COLD), my co worker and I went out to eat, we went shopping. It was a good time away from Ngara.