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