Living in Africa has had its ups and downs for me, certainly its not something I’d expect everyone I know to want to do, or even enjoy if they did. Plenty of people come and go, and it still amazes me how different the attitudes of the many can be, given how ultimately similar our backgrounds and home countries are no matter where in the western world they come from. Indeed, it’s also true that I would not really enjoy the many other facets of life that others enjoy themselves, I very much feel I have found ym place in all this, and hopefully the fact that I’m now 18 months into my life here in Tanzania shows my commitment, and my continued enjoymentof it all helps me to know that I have done the right thing in giving up my life in Bristol to come here and work.
After a full four month stint in the UK where I explored my fun-loving experimental attitude last year – then returned here with no camera charger – another unintended trip home for family and work, followed by the most recent return here, and have been working flat out for the last six weeks… I now finally have some new photos to share, some new experiences and triumphs to explain, and a new life among the people of the village of Mshiri.
The computer centre, is now no more. It is now the Guerba Community Centre, and is in full swing with new students, new customers, new computers and a full programme of activities to keep the people here entertained and connected to the world. The arrival of the container of computers in February was put on hold until I returned from the UK, but now I am proud to say that I have unpacked, refreshed, rebuilt and redesigned the entire system and I’m very proud of it. We now run a fully managed infrastructure; robust and reliable, save only for the power problems; and its being used, daily, by more people than ever before. What was a room full of essentially old, cast-away computers, has been transformed into the system we now run.
Neatly co-inciding with my birthday weekend, the two weeks I spent sorting all this out ended with a big party, and grand re-opening and re-launch of the centre for the community. 100 litres of mbege gone in just two hours, music all day, and of course, a full-day power cut just to throw thigns off. That didn’t stop us though, as we carried on regardless, and partied on till late at night with all those who came along. Old friends and new customers, we drank, sang, and danced all day, and I really hope that it has helped to bring us all together again for a fresh start.
As for the opening of the centre itself, well, no power means no computing, so we extended the offer of free internet onto Monday, and hoped that things would pick up for us. It did, and now we are busy to full every day, with new students, new customers, and a range of programmes in the evenings to help with our relationship with the locals, and provide a real use for the building going forward, that isn’t just a four hour a day learning centre for the few who choose it. We now offer everything that any self-respecting secretarial service provider would offer, and once we reach the early evenings, we play computer games, show movies and recently have moved into showing the Euro 2012 football matches live on the big screen. It’s going well, but more can and will be done. At the moment I’m being stretched to the absolute limit, working long hours with little break, but I’m loving it, loving being around people every day, and beginning to get more and more people on my side to help out and to be part of what will hopefully be the centre of the community.
Here are a few more photos from the last few weeks, I’ll try and keep this up to date more often now I have a charger to keep my baby snapping!