I am currently living in Morogoro, Tanzania, as a YCI Intern with a local NGO called Faraja Trust Fund (also known as Faraja)! In short, I am starting up a new division for Faraja focused on environmental initiatives in the Morogoro Rural District. In particular, I am focusing my initiatives in the Kiroka Ward in its five villages: Bamba, Kiroka, Kiziwa, Kungwe, and Kikundi.
To start off environmental programming I have spent the first two months of my placement in and out of the villages working on a needs assessment process to help me determine the needs of the communities. This process has consisted of several village leader and community member dialogues in all types of environments and conditions!
Below is a photo of me eating lunch in one of the villages, and thereafter are a few photos of some of the needs assessment process in action!
Spending my time in and out of the villages I have picked up a few basic tricks that have been making my life I bit easier in the field and I would like to share them with you!
#1 The Trick To Using Toilet Paper In The Villages!
So for those people who enjoy using toilet paper and are doing field work, I have figured out a few tricks to make your life a bit easier. Toilet paper is quite the luxury item in most parts of the world and as a result using it can cause a few issues. One, depending on the type of toilet, throwing toilet paper inside of it could cause things to plug or other environmental problems. Two, openly pulling out such a luxury item in sensitive village environments (even when they know that you probably use it) can really segregate you from the group you are trying to work with.
So I have come up with an easy and relatively ‘sanitary’ system that saves those problems!
1) If it is culturally acceptable to wear pants, then wear pants with big pockets on the thighs, if not, wear a skirt with pockets sown into the inside if at all possible.
2) Before you go out for the day, rip up small pieces of toilet paper into usable portions
3) Put the portions of toilet paper in one pocket
4) Put a small plastic bag (preferably a relatively durable one) in your other pocket
5) When you’re in the villages and you use the washroom, use the plastic bag to store your toilet paper. It may sound a bit gross but it is the most practical solution I have found thus far (when you get back to town, dispose of the bag then).
6) Lastly, don’t forget to use your hand sanitizer or find a way to properly wash your hands!
#2 The ‘Hand Washing’ Tip
Washing your hands is integral when you’re working in remote environments, especially before you eat a meal! In most of the villages I have worked in thus far, soap is an expensive item only to be used for ‘essential’ purposes including things like washing your clothes and (sometimes) dishes, but not really for washing your hands. However, before every meal I have found it culturally essential that even if you have utensils you at least wash your hands with water. The problem with using only water is that your hands are actually still dirty so I have come up with a solution.
Although I am not a big supporter of hand sanitizer, sometimes its all you have! So to ensure you are doing the culturally sensitive approach, I recommend washing your hands with the water provided first and then using the hand sanitizer shortly after. Although I have had a few looks from people wondering what I was putting on my hands, for the most part no one even notices because they were just happy I washed my hands in the first place!
#3 Rubber Boots ARE Fashionable!
It doesn’t matter what you had planned to do for the day or not, when you’re doing rural work you never know what you are going to get into! Time and time again I thought I was going on a simple one hour village trip and before I knew it I was hiking through rivers, farmers fields, and puddles of mud the size of small ponds! So even if you think you have a plan for the day and you should stay relatively clean, rubber boots are a very ‘fashionable’ addition to your wardrobe!
#4 Carry At Least One Facecloth/Bandana in Your Pocket
Not only are facecloths great for wiping up sweat from the never ending African sun, they come in handy for other things in everyday life. Whether it be to wipe off the seat of a wet Piki Piki (motorbike) after a rain storm or it be used to wrap around a really cold bottle of soda there is always something a cloth can be used for!
#5 Just Tie Your Hair UP!
Although you may be thinking it looks fashionable to wear your hair down, don’t be surprised to find many little critters crawling in it by the end of the day! Not only is wearing your hair up more practical for the bugs, its also more practical for the heat you may be experiencing while under the hot African sun.
-Larissa Duma, IYIP Intern, Tanzania 2011
For more International Youth Internship Program (IYIP) blogs, check out our IYIP section.