Introduction to Tanzania - East Africa

 

 

Tanzania is situated in East Africa just below the Equator.  It is over four times the size of the United Kingdom.

In the North is Kenya and in the South is Mozambique.  Tanzania shares it's border in the West with Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Zaire, the Congo, Zambia, and Malawi.  In the East there is the beautiful Indian Ocean with the off-shore Spice Islands of Zanzibar and Pemba.  Kilimanjaro in the north of Tanzania is the tallest mountain of Africa - 5,895 metres.

 

The population is approximately 36 millions and they are split into 120 tribes.  Each speaks its own language.  Therefore, it is of no surprise that everyone has to be able to speak their national language which is Swahili.  They are very welcoming people.

Tanzania has some of the most magnificent wildlife game reserves and national parks on the African continent, including Serengeti, Selous, Ruaha, Mikumi, Arusha, and others.

 

First Visit - November 1998

 

We have a son, David, who is a Doctor and researches tropical diseases, particularly Malaria. Together with his wife Joanna, an epidemiolagist, and their children they live in Tanzania and are concerned with the 'Roll-back Malaria' programme. This took them to Ifakara where they worked at the Ifakara Research and Development Centre. Joanna most successfully introduced insecticide treated malaria nets whilst David was working initially on a Malaria Vaccine Trial followed by a preventative malaria project for up to 5year olds which proved to be most successful.
 
Ifakara is approximately 250 miles (400 km) from Dar es Salaam and has a population of around 60,000 people. The temperature is usually above 30C and is humid - ideal conditions for mosquito breeding!

It is a sad fact that today still 3,000 children below the age of 5 years die daily from Malaria in the sub-Sahara part of Africa.

In November 1998 we flew to Tanzania to spend some time with our family and enjoy a visit to a game park. During one of our walk-abouts we met Sister Josephata, a young sister of the St. Francis Convent in Ifakara as she came out of a building where she just installed an emersion heater. It turned out that she was the local Electrician. She took us to her convent where we learned that all the Tanzanian sisters were either teaching in the local schools, or nursing in the St. Francis District Hospital, or growing Maize in their fields. We were invited to join them for lunch and soon discovered that even in the depth of Africa there is no such thing as a free lunch

The Sisters had a vision. They wanted a bakery to ensure that they have food all the year round even when they suffer a poor harvest. We soon discovered that they all like bread but the nearest bakery is in Morogoro (six hours away) or Dar es Slaaam (10 hours away).

We produced a business plan which showed that a small loaf of bread could be sold for TZShillings200 (0.17) and still leaves a margin for the Convent.  This document was signed by Mother Superior and their Bishop.  However, neither the Convent nor the Diocese of Mahenge had any cash for this project and we agreed to investigate the total costs when we were back in England.