Twaweza staff from Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda are back in the office after a week in the southern highlands of Tanzania for our annual immersion. Twenty-four staff from Twaweza, our partner Daraja and our host organization Hivos, spent three days in nine villages of Njombe District. We immersed ourselves in the lives of our hosts, doing what they do on a daily basis. Some of us sowed wheat and dug potatoes, others herded cattle, picked tea, and cooked ugali. We got our news from visiting neighbours and the radio and some of us watched the evening news, at least for the length of time the solar-powered TV ran. We gathered where others congregated- in community squares, in dukas and in kitchens. We learned of the lives of our hosts and they in turn asked us questions about where we come from.
While the immersion experience was by no means a research project, we all took the chance to visit the schools, health centres and government offices in our host communities. We discovered that no schools reported having received the capitation grant in the past year and that some even lacked funds for chalk. We also found that no school was fully staffed. And yet, in the midst of hardships, we learned of people crafting innovative solutions. The parents in one community had organized solar lights for the school, allowing for extra evening classes, which some believed contributed to more students passing the Standard 7 exam. Another community was collecting money to dig a well after an outside organization had abandoned building bore holes.
When we came back together to discuss our experiences, we realized just how disparate life was for citizens of the nine villages, despite their proximity to each other. The small ‘window’ of insights that we gained will challenge our thinking as we do our work. We’ve returned to our offices in Dar es Salaam, Kampala and Nairobi, refreshed and energetic about our work, but also with more questions than we left with. We plan to share these lessons learned in the coming months on our website and through social media.
Please click on a photo below to start the slideshow or view the pictures on our Facebook page here.
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