Live from Dar: daily life, facilities and opportunities
28 Sep 2015
Dar-es-Salaam is the main city in Tanzania. The population has been growing at a steady pace of 5,6 %, and nowadays the population is compared to the current population figures estimated at over 5 million inhabitants (which is the whole population of Finland).
It is one of the fastest-growing cities in sub-Saharan Africa and thus keeps expanding, reaching now 35km between the Northern limit to the Southern one and more than 30km from East to West. Population density is over 3,133 persons per square kilometer while overall Tanzania the average is of 51. Over 70 percent of Dar es Salaam residents live in informal and unplanned settlements.
While the center is more urban, with crowded streets and not many vegetation, we enjoy living in the Northern area called Mbezi Beach.
Not far from the ocean, our house stands on the side of a hill surrounding a kind of little valley. If the waste management is also an issue here, the environment is greener, the sky wider and the whole atmosphere less frenetic. It feels much safer here, we can walk along the paths without any worries, greeted by every neighbours and all the kids happy to salute us with the approximate English words they know “Howa you? Howa you?”
Our house is in a newly built house shared between 4 apartments. We have a bedroom and a living-room, each measuring approximately 17m², plus a kitchen and a bathroom outside. The style is really local but comfortable and actually quite easy to manage, especially because everything is new and thus clean, luminous and almost always operating! Moreover, operatives are still doing some work to improve our quality of life: we have now a sink and running water in the kitchen, cloth lines, they should soon build new stairs to access the house, provide individual electricity meters, etc. A house of this quality, in a nice environment, and for such a cheap price, it’s definitely a good snip! Surrounding area has every shop one might need. There is small local shops near the house, where you can buy basic things like food, clothes, hygiene products etc. Also nearby is couple of bigger supermarkets, where you can find more European kind products and shops, as well as big and colorful local markets where to find all kinds of vegetables, cheap second-hand clothes, and basically almost everything if you look and not hesitate to ask for it!
If an increasing amount of people start to know how to speak English, still basic Kiswahili skills are necessary in everyday life. Luckily the basics are easy and quick to learn and we are surrounded by people in willing and eager to teach them.
The geographic localisation is also strategically interesting.
For the weekend, we are close to the Northern beaches of Dar-es-Salaam and the island of Mbudya where you can rest in a paradisiac atmosphere of white sand and pure blue ocean, with also snorkelling facilities or dive in some other parts. Also to Zanzibar it is easy to get from Dar.
Along Bagamoyo Road, we can access many different dala-dalas (the local public transport minibuses) to move around easily, once you have understood how to avoid traffic jams! Besides, the main bus station to move out from Dar-es-Salaam is close.
Finally, a fundamental point is that we are at a walking distance from Shalin’s partner in Tanzania, GOIG Society.
GOIG (Getting Old Is to Grow) is a private school, teaching also vocational skills on handicrafts. There are a lot of opportunities in different kind of handicraft skills especially, for example weaving, carpet production, fabric printing, sewing, designing, batik, jewelry etc. On the production there would be great opportunities for volunteers helping with improving the quality of the work, or start with planning and producing new products for sales. If you have ideas that you want to develop and a proactive behaviour, it is a good chance to take to both learn, practice, try and accomplish.
Being volunteer here for Shalin is a great opportunity to realize your objectives, whether they are professional, scholars, personal… Or both together. You are supported but have a great independency for working, which really enable you to organize yourself in order to appreciate all the discoveries there are to be made here.
Unexpected opportunities can also show up! We are now travelling to Nairobi, Kenya, to attend the African Agribusiness Incubation Conference and thus … we will return after it!