Yes, I still speak Swahili.

A few weeks ago, I was preparing for my trip to Tanzania. It was to be my first visit since my year as a Project Coordinator, and I was beyond excited to see my friends from my village of Kwakiliga. So, after a long flight back to Tanzania, a day’s drive to Korogwe, and a bajaj (golf-cart might be the best translation!) ride to tiny Kwakiliga, I made it. And it was just as wonderful as I’d expected it to be.

In fact, I left like I had never left. When I arrived, I went to greet Mzee Rubeni, my neighbor and 2Seeds Kwakiliga group member. He asked if I needed a guide to show me around Kwak, which I resolutely declined. I still feel like a local! And I was happy to find that my Swahili came back within the first day – to mixed reactions of shock and relief from my Tanzanian friends.

I spent three days talking, eating, and drinking tea with my friends. I accepted an invitation from Mama Mwaka to have ugali at her house one afternoon, a five-hour affair of sorting the beans, cooking the beans, shredding the coconut, preparing greens, and finally eating ugali. (I had forgotten that lunch is never an in-and-out affair in village life.) I spent an afternoon with Mama and Mzee Mcharo, enjoying a meal of – you guessed it – none other than ugali, and was honored that they slaughtered one of their chickens for the meal (not a 2Seeds hen, of course!) I met the current hens of Kwakiliga, who had moved in to the coops a week after I headed back to the States in 2014. The number of eggs the Partners are collecting every day is phenomenal!

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Mama Mwaka shows me her certificate of graduation from the Advanced Business Curriculum.

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Mama Adamu collects eggs at Coop 1. Last year, we’d collect them in a small pot. Now, they need a whole basket! She was delighted when I pointed this out.

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Hanging out with Mama Mcharo.

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Beautiful chickens. Lots of production!

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I was delighted to see Mzee Adamu feeding greens to his hens! I felt like a Project Coordinator again, encouraging this “best practice” in chicken care!

And, of course, I spent some time with my favorite kiddos.

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The neighborhood crowd.

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Camera-crazy ladies.

As much as I loved going home to Kwak, I was in Tanzania to see the development of all the projects. And quite a bit had happened since I’d last visited each of them!

I began with a day in Korogwe, where I witnessed a Treasurers’ Summit. Group treasurers from several project sites came together to review their March and April business numbers. They reviewed profits and return on investment, and practiced observing trends to determine whether their business had expanded or contracted. Mama Tatu, the treasurer from Bombo Majimoto, was excited to see that her business group had moved from a loss in January and February to a profit in March and April!

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Mama Tatu (left) and other group treasurers practice identifying trends in their businesses.

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Mama Asha reviews the books for her group’s potato chip, peanut, and popcorn business.

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Samtoi calculates profits from Lutindi’s March and April vegetable sales.

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Treasurers share their business costs, revenue, profit, and return on investment with one another.

I continued on to the beautiful mountain sites of Bungu and Lutindi, where I was able to hear from the Project Coordinators about the progress of the group businesses over the past year. Both Bungu and Lutindi Partners are planting and selling vegetables under coordinated group systems, allowing them to establish consistent relationships with buyers (and earn more consistent income!) I was also lucky enough to witness some incredible views during my time in the mountains.

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View from Lutindi overlooking the plains. You can (almost) see Tabora!

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The Lutindi team shared this awesome lookout spot with me.

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The motorcycle ride from Bungu to Lutindi weaves through tea fields.

From the mountains, I headed to the valley, home to the Magoma, Bombo Majimoto, and Kijungumoto Projects. I hadn’t visited most of these sites since 2013, and was so impressed by the project activities there!

In Magoma-Kijango, 2Seeds works with students at the local primary school to grow vegetables and raise chickens. Profits from these activities will finance a school meals program.

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Here, parent-leader Mama Dalia tends to the chicken flock. She was kind enough to let me help her collect the day’s eggs!

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The students enjoy hanging out with the hens!

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At Kijango primary school, 2Seeds Partners have built a rain gutter along the school roof. It funnels rainwater to a 6,000 liter reservoir to be stored for use in the garden and chicken coops during the dry season.

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This reservoir holds 6,000 liters!

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A student shows me the system.

In Magoma-Kwata, 2Seeds has worked with primary school students and community leaders to build an integrated system at the school. It includes a fish pond, chicken coop, goat pen, and garden. Each class of students manages one of these activities: third-graders are on garden duty, fourth graders care for the goats, fifth graders tend to the hens, and sixth graders manage the fish pond. In addition to being hands-on learning activities which students are extremely enthusiastic about, these activities will generate profit to finance a school meals program.

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The chicken coop and fish pond. Chicken waste serves as food for the fish! Is that integrated or what?!

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Third graders tend to their garlic seedlings.

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A drip irrigation system helps students water their garden efficiently.

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The students have branded their goat pen!

In Bombo Majimoto, Partners have built two greenhouses, where they’re starting to grow garlic and cayenne. In Bombo, an isolated village, market access has always been a challenge. Garlic and cayenne are small crops, which are easy to transport without excessive breakage. Plus, they fetch good prices at market!

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Mzee Shebe, Bombo Majimoto Partner, talks to Project Coordinators Lena and Dom about the new irrigation system.

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Mzee Shebe and Dom check on the garlic seedlings.

I headed to Kijungumoto (or, as we say, Kmoto!) for a group meeting. The Partners have been working on a honey production business since investing in several bee hives in 2014, and received their first individual profits from the business during my visit!

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Project Coordinator Jonah walks Kmoto Partners through the profit sharing plan for the honey business.

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Mzee Malenge shows me around his maize and sunflower farms. The sunflowers were planted to feed the honey-producing bees!

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Project Coordinator Geoff and Kmoto Partner Mama Maimuna discuss upcoming planting plans for her vegetable garden.

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Basic drip irrigation systems help Kmoto Partners keep their vegetables hydrated!

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Mama Maimuna tends to her seedlings!

My last stop before leaving Korogwe district was the village of Tabora. I got to join the women’s group for a cooking day as they prepared to fill big orders for both salted and sweet peanuts!

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Mama Salome, Mama Asha, Mama Hasani, and Mama Kitojo are busy at work in the kitchen, but they spend the time chatting and laughing!

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Mama Kitojo cooks salted peanuts.

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Yum!

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The Korogwe plains, home of Tabora and Kwakiliga.

Before heading back to Marekani (America), I sat in on a meeting of 2Seeds Project Coordinators and staff with the Kariakoo Market Corporation–the largest market in Tanzania– and Habari Mazao–a Tanzanian tech startup. In partnership with these two organizations, 2Seeds has launched a system which allows farmers to access crop price information through a text message. They’re now working on developing an app to improve market access for smallholder farmers throughout Tanzania!

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2Seeds, Habari Mazao, and Kariakoo Market Corporation collaborate on technology solutions to improve market access for smallholders.

Before signing off, I’ll leave you with this snapshot of my awesome Kwakiliga Partners, just being themselves. I’m looking forward to my next trip!

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Until next time!

Amanda

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