Lessons learned, being a part-time stranger -DF

Over the weekend we were once again granted the opportunity to observe CPAR in the field! We went with them to Ukerewe, and sat in on a meeting followed by a walk through some of the nearby famers’ crops. It has always been a pleasure to tag along with their work, with all our questions answered without hesitation, and our presence warmly greeted by everyone we passed. We had fascinating discussions on the non-chemical pest control methods of the organic farms, nutritional qualities of maize and alternatives, and other agricultural issues around the health of the vegetable roots and soil erosion. Being a nutrition student, this was most definitely a highlight to my weekend! And once again, we were thoroughly impressed by the hands-on training and development work CPAR led the farmers with.

The local people were beyond welcoming, with smiles from ear to ear. After the meeting, we followed along to see how well some of the vegetables were growing. A beautiful young woman, quite appropriately named Happiness, grabbed our hands, asked us our names, and led us down the path. She patiently taught us the Swahili words for the plants we passed by and frequently reminded me to take photos to show my own family, with a contagious smile that brushed aside the slight language barrier. She wanted me to take many photos to show my friends and family, and insisted I capture the whole field, well as the close up shots of the leaves. And I am certainly grateful I did, I can’t wait to show everyone back home how much green is in rural Tanzania, and of course, how amazing the people are.

The way she presented us with some cassava and oranges, and encouraged me to take these pictures of the fields; she was glowing with pride. It was an incredibly warming moment, and a refreshing reminder of the two way path we are exploring. Just like the kind woman who gave each of us a fresh egg during our previous field visit with CPAR a couple weeks ago, the energy that each of them shared with us will undoubtedly stay with me for a long time.

When I think back to my busy routine at home, I rarely take the time to step back and acknowledge the things I am proud of, yet alone appreciate what others have to offer. I envy the way these strong women handed us, who were complete strangers to them, these thoughtful gifts as we were nothing more than observers to the work being done. But we weren’t strangers for long, as she squeezed a hug goodbye. It’s incredible how deep a conversation you can have with someone you just met, using minimal words, a camera, cassava roots, and smiling eyes. I hope I can relay this energy back home too, and that I take the time to understand, experience, and fulfil the potential that such simple acts of appreciation can heighten.

Two hours on the world’s bumpiest road trip, in a full car… absolutely worth it.

Diana

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