Arusha, beyond the conference room…

I always love arriving in a new city or town at night and then waking up to discover what it has to show for itself in the morning. Whether it’s arriving in a bustling chaotic city at night (think Delhi) or a sleepy little town (think Adelaide!), it’s always a struggle to wait until morning to discover a new destination. The morning usually delivers kids and adults walking to school or work, buses and motorbikes weaving their way in and out of traffic, market sellers setting up their stalls…and in the case of Arusha, men asking if they can “escort you on your run”!

Because we were coped up in a conference room most of the week with training, I decided to get up just after sunrise (yes mum, I actually got up early) and fit some exercise in (how’s that for a pun). I was told it’s best to go for a run before the hustle and bustle of Arusha’s roads took flight, which to the shock of my sleep loving body clock, was a half hour window just after sunrise. Luckily jet lag kicked in and 6:45am starts didn’t seem so daunting.

Running in the early hours of the morning turned out to be a great way to see a bit more of this town and its residents. There were fellow joggers giving that knowing look of, ‘are we sane for putting our bodies through this ordeal at such a ridiculous hour’ – no translation required. One kid came running up to me from ahead and I was thinking, ‘oh jeez is he coming straight for me, he’s a bit excited and out of control running downhill towards me?’ But all he wanted to tell me was “you go girl!” Then the old man further down the road said the one swahili word I know too well from climbing Kilimanjaro last year – pole pole! He was telling me to slow down – not because I was clocking 4 minute km’s, but more likely because of the deep crimson colour of my face. I hadn’t been for a run for quite some time!

And of course there was the very helpful and considerate men out the front of the brewery. They thought it would be quite funny to run alongside me for a bit to see if I wanted a permanent running escort. I tried to remain focused on running, keeping my eyes in front of me and trying not to entertain or encourage them, but it was just too funny a moment and as soon as I gave them a little smile and laugh, they backed off. Lucky because I thought I might have to resort to telling them one of my jokes to get rid of them – that usually disperses a crowd no problems! But honestly, you gotta love people who hang out the front of a brewery at 7am!

Whilst we were somewhat bound to the conference room for most of the week, we were given a 3 hour break on day 2, so a group of us decided to go and visit a social enterprise in Arusha called SEW (Supporting and Empowering Women). SEW employs HIV-positive women and sets them up with the skills and resources to produce beautiful bags (see below) made from a mix of recycled and reused materials. I bought 3 bags…because y’know, I have so much spare room in my luggage!

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There’s all sorts of bags to choose from (bags for iPads, kindles, laptops etc) and the best thing is there’s a little note waiting in each bag that tells you a bit about the lady who made it. The one above that I purchased was made by Albina. I also had another one made by Hadija who I was lucky enough to meet.

On Day 4, we had a free day so I decided to go and visit Amani Children’s Home, which is one of The Intrepid Foundations supported projects. Amani is located in Moshi, the next town. I was really impressed with the holistic approach these guys have in working towards reducing the number of children living on the streets. They do this by providing a place for street children to heal, grow and learn. In addition to Amani providing long term care, they also aim to reunite children with their relatives where possible and to equip their families with the tools they need to be self sustainable.

I was lucky enough to meet up with Kristy, the Communications Coordinator of Amani and hear all about their work first hand. I also got to meet some of the kids in between their classes (there’s currently about 60 kids living and attending school at the home). I also managed to conveinently time my visit to coincide with lunch (beans and rice Thursday – yummo!):

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Lunch was absolutely delicious and I was pretty keen to go back for seconds, which, funnily enough reminded me of joke! Unfortunately I didn’t get to share it with the teachers and students. Why? Because I hesitated! I thought, what if none gets it? What if there is no such thing as a lame dad joke in Tanzania? I buckled. After months of training for just this moment, I buckled! But here it is, for your viewing pleasure:

What does a clock do when it gets hungry?
~ It goes back 4 seconds…

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These kids are amazing acrobats – 2 of the students have actually been chosen to represent Tanzania in the US world acrobatic jump rope championships! As one does!

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This kid wasn’t shy at all and kept asking for me to take his photo. Awesome smile.
To the right is the washing station where all the kids ‘happily’ wash there own clothes.


This smart fella was trying to get out of going back to class after lunch by striking a pose with Kristy and myself!

To check out more about what this amazing organisation does, see The Intrepid Foundation web site. 

And how’s this for a bit of symmetry – I’m finishing this blog post having just arrived in Addis Ababa! It’s 10pm and I’m itching to get out there and explore my new home city for the next 18 months. But that will just have to wait until the morning. Perhaps a run past the local brewery at sunrise is in order..!!





6 thoughts on “Arusha, beyond the conference room…

  1. I can just see my life becoming a misery 🙂 having to read Bloger Bolgger. It’s going to be the most entertaining read of my week.

    • I don’t know Manch, I think your elephant blog post was the most interesting (and popular) for the week! Although you could have incorporated a joke in there surely…but stay tuned, I may have a relevant dad joke for you coming up!

  2. Loving hearing your news Amy! Seriously… may i reproduce your Arusha running blog post on the Intrepid blog? I think the ellies wore me out last week and I’m now home with a rotten cold. A friend brought me tulips and isn’t it amazing the pick-me-up qualities of flowers! Glad you can eat OK as a pescatarian and good luck finding suitable accomm. Love the Mum joke! Don’t forget to look up our eye doctor friend when you have a chance! Ciao J xx

    • Sure Jane. Just flick me what you reproduce first up – but i’m sure it will be fine! Hope the tulips sorted you out 🙂 Great work on the ellies…good to see all that hard work so well received! x

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