Alena’s First Impressions of Tanzania

Hello from Tanzania!

I’m excited to announce that I arrived about 3 weeks ago. It has been a hot, sunny adjustment into Tanzanian life.

First and foremost I’d like to thank my donors, family, and friends for your help to get me this far. It is truly humbling to have your support!

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(This is me in Korogwe a few days ago.)

I’d like to share some first impressions about Tanzania and our life here:

1) Many offices don’t have computers. While I expected this, it is still strange to have a meeting with someone at the Karaikoo Market Corporation (where we have an office) and have the room be without any technology.

We are hoping to make the recording of prices in the Kariakoo Market a digital process. It is more apparent than ever how revolutionary this could be.

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(This is Mr. Marko. He often buys us coca-colas at about 10am. Today we found out that Mr. Marko drinks 6 to 8 sodas a day. He was very serious for this photo; he usually has a gigantic smile.)

2) Traffic in Dar es Salaam is truly wild. Drivers drive on the other side of the street and there are multiple vehicles fighting for space and very few traffic signs if any. It’s a free for all in the streets to some degree.

Each day to get to our office we must cross a big intersection. It is always a challenge. In one given moment you can see small buses, cars, motorbikes, bijajs (Tuk Tuks), push karts, bicycles, and people walking.

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3) There is a mindset in Tanzania to invest money in infrastructure.  There are so many buildings being built all around Dar and in Tanzania in general. The mentality here is that with what money you have left over from life expenses, you invest in bricks or building a structure. It makes sense that if you build an apartment building, you can have a roof over your head, and have income from renters. But it seems like many buildings are only partway built and are under construction indefinitely.

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4) There is no sense of line order. When we get on and off busses, everyone seems to go at the same time. While people are quite polite in Tanzania, no one says excuse me. They just push into you. The same happens when waiting in line for goods at the store; it is just a rush to the front of the counter where you can get served.

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(Here’s a picture of Sam waiting in the non-line.)

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About Sam Steyer

Head of Analytics, Station A
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