Sorry for the delay in posting. I have been procrastinating in writing something because it feels as though there is far too much to say. But, finally, here are a few first impressions during my first week:
UNICEF, so far, is amazing. I am not saying that because this is public information, but more because I was very surprised at the high level of organization they had when they welcomed Scott and I.
At CIDA, it took a few weeks before I had my own office space, working computer and email. At the UNICEF Tanzania Country Office, I had a desk, a computer, a laptop and keys/access pass in a matter of minutes after arriving. They had all the paper work/training/briefings that I needed to get settled in, and were already offering detailed advice on housing. Day two, the Country Rep (the head of UNICEF Tanzania) sat to meet with us personally. Day 3, while at a UNICEF family day event at a water park, the Deputy Representative of UNICEF Tanzania (similar to a Vice President) had offered his house for us to stay in while he was away for a month. This really took some of the housing pressure off of us. And did I mention that it is on the beach?
Plus, if it couldn’t get better, the office has a great sense of humor too. Our first meeting we had today with all the staff was very jovial and good natured. To top it all off, Scott and I are also able to go out in the field this week. He is visiting a refugee camp in Kigoma (in the furthest Western region of the country) and I am headed to Lindi (near the Mozambique boarder), which I will tell you more about in a later post.
The people outside of UNICEF have been pretty amazing too. So far, it is very unlike Accra, where as a mzungu (white person) I have gone relatively unnoticed. In Accra, I was followed, grabbed, shouted at where ever I went. In Dar (I repeat, so far), people have been very respectful and over all friendly. And, the best part is that people are pretty good at letting me practice my swahili (no matter how painful).
The one set back so far is that we are looking for apartments, which, if what people tell us is true, will be a long and arduous pursuit. I found myself wondering around Dar yesterday skipping from apartment to apartment (I think I saw 9), with not a lot of luck. Most have an issue or two that is hard to overcome: they lack furniture, security, or are simply not affordable. But it probably doesn’t help that we are very picky — we need something safe, nothing on the ground floor, with (ideally) furniture/watertank/generator, and all of this on an interns “salary”. What is worse, and what continues to surprise me, is that Dar apartment/housing prices are higher than what you would find in Ottawa, and electricity is significantly higher too.
But, wish us luck in keeping within a budget that allows us to stay the whole 9 months. Oh, and if anyone is curious of what my budget looks like and the breakdown of IYIP costs, please let me know, I do not mind sharing as the cost came as a bit of a shock to me. From where I sit now, it seems do-able, but I will update you as I go.
In short, UNICEF is treating us fantastically and Dar is beautiful. I am really excited to see how the next few weeks unfold.