rob & sam
head east
previous posts
where did the time go?
Two Months of Adventures!
the adventure continues!
Tours, Travels, and updates!
Mwanza Pictures
the two week mark!
Pictures of
Karibu Mwanza!
karibu Africa!
the countdown begins...

who we are
we are two Canadian students from the University of Western Ontario, currently in the process of completing the third year of our Honours Bachlor of Arts in Media in the Public Interest.

at the moment, we are in Mwanza, Tanzania as interns with Western Heads East.

learn more about...
- western heads east (WHE)
- the university of western ontario (UWO)
- mwanza or tanzania
- swahilli

October 2006
November 2006
December 2006

where did the time go?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

so we've only got a couple more weeks in mwanza before we head off to zanzibar and then back to snowy canada! lots of things have happened in the past little while, but the most newsworthy are:

mwanza floods...

it was ridiculous, the rains were pouring down and all of the sudden the director of kivulini calls us from our apartment to the balcony, "come come, you have to see this!" as we stare down, we realize that there is water in mlango moja, the used clothing market right accross the street, up to the vendor's knees! we rushed out and into the market, past people trying desperately to salvage their merchandise from the murky waters. one guy casually backstroked past us with a wave, before stalls once filled with jungles of used clothing. we left the market and went to the main road, which we saw was now a swiftly rushing river. people flanked the makeshift shores and tables and chairs washed past in the swift current.

from our balcony, we could see cars parked downtown now imersed in water up to their windows. after the rain subsided, the waters cleared up quite quickly, but left a lot of damage in their wake. many houses in mabitini, the area where our yogurt kitchen is, were quite badly damaged. however, luckily most of our friends were alright, although one of the yogurt mama's houses - mama asha - had water up to their ankles on the floor and the younger kids in the house have malaria... all in all, it was an awesome display of the power of nature, and we are lucky both to have experienced it and that the majorty of people affected came out safely.

serengeti adventure!

we went to the serengeti last weekend! we spent one night in the serengeti stopover, just outside the gates of the park, where we calebrated the beginning of our mini-vacation. as we tend to do, we made ourselves right at home - rob was behind the bar and jodie and i were cooking chapatis in the kitchen! the next morning, we drove into the park - me, rob, jobie (canada) and dennis (south africa).

we spent two days and one night there, looking with awe at all of the amazing animals! we saw literally hundreds of giraffes and zebras, many of them just milling about in the road. tons of impala and gazelles, looking at us impassively as we drove by or paused to take pictures.

hippos bathed in the hippo pool, we saw the ass of an elephant through the trees, and two lions (we think) almost snapped up jodie and i as we truged into the grass for a pee break.

we camped overnight, and (hilariously) we were the only mzungos (white people/foreigners) who were doing the whole trip for themselves! the camp became quite full, mostly with wealthy-looking couples, two from canada actually, who had hired a tour agency and come fully equipped with a driver, cook and so on. they lounged about in the sun, waiting to be served the food included in their luxury serengeti tour while we popped right into the little cooking hut, making friends with the tour staff, jabbering in kswahili and cooking up a storm. and seriously, i wouldnt have doen it any other way.

we didnt run into too many problems, we had two blown tires and the car battery died, but no big deal. with the car just gave up in the middle of a dirt road, every single truck that passed us stopped to help and one even gave rob and jodie a ride to the nearest lodge to try and get a mechanic to come out. while they went for help, dennis and i sunbathed. as luck would have it, a car with three mechanics passed us, and were able to get the car up and running in almost no time!

it made for a good adventure though... whats a trip to the serengeti if you dont have to push the car, even a little?

more coming soon!

posted by sam at 9:22 AM

Two Months of Adventures!

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Here are the much anticipated pictures of the orphanage, Saa Nane Game Reserve Island and World Aids Day Parade. The last week has been very busy in preparation for World Aids Day and trying to make sure we get everything done in our last month in Mwanza.

We both couldn't believe that December came so quickly, but with the help of the Yogurt Mama's we managed to put together some signs and go with Kivulini to the World Aids Day Events. Sam and I marched along side the mama's out to a stadium where there was presentations, guest speakers, information booths, and live performers throughout the day. Although the day was held in Swahili, Sam and I travelled around introducing ourselves to the many organizations at the event.

The first picture is Sam and I on a very large boat. Our friends here in Mwanza built the boat and let Sam and I go on and explore yesterday afternoon (and we thought it was the perfect time for a good photo).

The next photo is of the World Aids Day Parade, then the lion at Saa Nane, and a picture of the children at Fonelisco during one of our English lessons.

Sam and I are starting english lessons with the Yogurt Mama's on Monday as they all have told us how they would like to learn more English as well. Sam and I are going to spend our last month teaching them English and trying to finish up all the mini projects we have started here in Mwanza.

We are having a beach Christmas blast on December 15th as a fundraiser for Western Heads East out at Tunza Lodge...We finally got everything up and running for it realizing event planning in Africa is not as easy as one might think :)

Hope the weather in Canada isn't too cold and that everyone is safe and doing well! Sam just got over her second time with Malaria and tomorrow we are going to get tested again (just to make sure it is out of both our systems).

Kwa Heri!

-Rob and Sam

posted by Robbie at 9:23 AM

the adventure continues!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

my first encounter with tropical diseases was less than exciting.
headaches, stomachaches, backaches... you name it, malaria's got it.
but after two weeks straight of ODing on antibiotics, i finally feel myself again!

despite both rob and i coming down with the dreaded disease (really, it's not that big of a deal... i can't imagine the mess getting malaria in canada would generate, but here virtually every pharmacy sells anti-malaria meds) we've been really busy.

and it hasn't helped that we've just realized how quickly time has flown by... two months next week!

right now, we're working on putting something together for AIDs Awareness Day, this Friday December 1st. Kivulini has invited us and some of the Yoghurt Mamas to go with them to meet other AIDs awareness organizations and speak a bit about our project. we're both excited to meet more people involved in the field, and get a chance to talk more about what we're doing here!

rob did such a good job on updates with the last post that this is all i've got for now... but more to come from me soon, i promise!

until then, take care and i'll try my best not to acquire any more tropical diseases.

posted by sam at 9:32 AM

Tours, Travels, and updates!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Sorry for the little contact over the last couple of weeks. Sam and I have been very busy with the project and almost everytime we come downtown the internet cafe has no power.

That being said, we are usually running on about 4 hours of hydro a day. For some reason the power normally comes on at lunch for an hour or so, then at 5pm for an hour and a half, and then will flick on throughout the night...This always keeps life interesting as you cannot charge batteries, keep food in the fridge, or see anything without a candle to help you.

Sam and I have been very busy with the Yogurt Mama's for the last two weeks as well. We head out to the kitchen about three times a week, and our conversations with them are great places to practise our Swahili! They are all making sure that we our practising what we are learning at our lessons and they love looking up English words in our dictionary as well!

On Friday Sam and I both got tested for Malaria and it turns out Sam still has it (or got it again) so Friday night we went out for a comfort meal consisting of chicken soup and a pasta dinner.

This weekend we had lunch at the Hotel Tilapia, followed by a boat ride out to Saa Nane Game Reserve (an island that is about 10 minutes off shore from the Hotel Tilapia).

Sam, Sam (from the UK), Anna (another volunteer with Kivulini), and myself all climbed aboard a very large boat and headed out to hike around the island for the afternoon. Saa Nane was a great adventure, and turned out to be the perfect afternoon outing.

We first read the rules of the park before stepping out onto the paths which was a paved pathway across the island. We immediately saw the wildebeast, a herd of impala's, and the many birds that soar overtop of the island.

Our first stop was the hyena cage where we saw a lonesome hyena behind bars staring out at us (and to our surprise, they stand quite tall). We noticed the lack of solid fencing between us and the hyena and chose to carry on towards the lions cage.

The lion stood alone ontop of a grassy hill in a caged enclosure roaring as we approached. There were no staff directly around the cage and the path went along the front of the cage so we could stand within inches of the lions mouth.

The rest of the island was a beautiful adventure with Mwanza behind us and Lake Victoria (and many other islands) in front of us. This was our first 'toursit' trip in Mwanza and it was well worth the $10 for the four of us.

Sam and I have been teaching English a couple of times a week in the late afternoons out at the orphanage which makes for a busy week, but also makes the week go by very quickly.

We have gotten much more brave in trying out new restaurants and venturing out and around to areas of Mwanza that we have yet to explore.

We will be downtown to post pictures about our last few weeks of adventures and will be trying to keep everyone posted as our last month and a half in Africa draws to a close!

Kwa Heri !

posted by Robbie at 8:15 AM

Mwanza Pictures

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Sam and I have been busy discovering, planning, and learning more about Mwanza and Africa. Here are a few pictures that we managed to get up on the blog for you all to see where we have been working.

They loaded in a different order, so starting at the bottom is a picture of Sam in the yogurt kitchen with the Yogurt Mama's. We have been walking out to Mabatini (where the kitchen is located) about three times a week to sit in the kitchen, talk about the project, and work on our Swahili with them. They are very helpful and love reading through our dictionaries and quizzing us on words.

The next picture up is of the yogurt kitchen outside.

The third picture from the bottom is of our 'getaway' spot, where we go to read and relax on the beach. This is Tunza (well, the beach at Tunza) and Lake Victoria. We normally head out there on Sunday's to relax, and work on our Swahili in a gorgeous place.

The fourth picture is of some of the kids at Fonelisco. Everytime I pull out my camera they all want a personal photo shoot, this was one of the few group photo's I had. Sam and I head out there on friday afternoon's where we have started teaching English with some other volunteers, and on Satudays we are there playing games, and taking the children to Lake Victoria Swimming.

The fifth photo is one of the clearer photo's of us stuck in the mud en route for the Serengeti. This is Sam and Jodi (a volunteer from Kincardine), as well as a few locals, waiting around the car on one of the many times we got stuck in the mud that night.

This is where we ended up spending the night. Although the sign points at our site, we were stuck just off to the left of the sign at about 1 in the morning and decided to call it a night. This is our camp site that we spent the night on... It is actually in the middle of the road to the real camp site. This was the first time Sam and I got to hear the 'Sounds of the Serengeti' at night while we slept. Mainly frogs and birds, but the occasional hyena could be heard in the distance.

This is the pathway to the main lodge at the real camp ground. We spent a second night out there in fear of getting stuck in the mud. As you can see, it did rain again, we we enjoyed our night in a dry tent and with the baboon's wandering around the campground.

Sam and I will try to load more pictures in the next week of the public school, more of the yogurt mama's, Kivulini, and our Serengeti expedition! We have started our swahili lessons and spend 5 hours a week in class studying and practising, and have come to realize what a beautiful language we get to learn.

Updates to come very soon!

Kwa Heri!

posted by Robbie at 3:50 AM

the two week mark!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

it's been two weeks since rob and i stepped foot on our first plane and travelled accross two continents to get here to the beautiful city of mwanza. somehow, it feels both as though we have been here much longer, yet for no time at all.

this week, we finally met the yoghurt mamas who form the heart of our project here.
they are all fabulous, vibrant, unbelievely strong women who immediately welcomed us into their project wholeheartedly and without hesitation.

it was interesting to visit the kitchen where the yoghurt is made and distributed, as we quickly came to see that this place is more than merely somewhere to get food. like many of the stores and cafes here in mwanza, it is a social hub with the yoghurt mamas in the centre, where people come in for nutrients of both the physical and social variety.

even with our (slightly less, but still) limited swahili, the atmosphere alone was enough to leave us grinning.

aside from spending time getting to know the yoghurt mamas, we have also been volunteering at an orphanage for street children, FONELISCO. i don't think that there is any better way to feel more comfortable in a new culture than to play with kids; they are living proof that, regardless of how far people are seperated by land or sea or language or beliefs, we are all fundamentally the same. i mean, who doesnt like to play football or enjoy dipping their toes in the lake or laugh till they cry when they're tickled? it was a stroke of pure luck that we got invovled with this organization, and we intend to stay invovled as much as possible!

so that's (in short) what we've been up to over the past little while.
more stories and pictures coming soon!

posted by sam at 4:31 AM

Pictures of

Monday, October 23, 2006

Here are some pictures of Mwanza and our apartment. The first photo is of 'Toby', the gecko that haunts are apartment at night. The second and third photos are views from our apartment. We believe the metal roofing to be covering a market or shops of some kind, and the hill is across the main highway from us.

The last picture is of our apartment building. We live on the third floor, and that is our laundry hanging outside. KIVULINI is located on the other half of the third floor, as well as in the lower right hand corner of the building (where they have a stationary store).

Sam and I are busy still getting settled, finalizing previous tasks from other interns, and learning the language. We have been helping out at a local orphanage (Fonelisco) on weekends, and we are starting more work with the Yogurt Mama's this afternoon.

Sam and I both realized that we have already been here a week and this has helped us guage how quickly our internship here will pass.

We promise to post more pictures of the Orphanage, the Yogurt project, and Mwanza very soon!

posted by Robbie at 4:20 AM