Overview of My First Week

Hello everyone! Instead of sharing what I did every day during my first week, I figured it would be best to break it down by categories and pictures. 

Home

We have a four bedroom, three bathroom apartment on the 22nd floor in City Centre with a nice view of the city skyline and the ocean front! The city is super busy, they're are usually people outside walking around throughout the day. I'm not sure when most businesses open in the morning but the street vendors are always set up before we leave home at 8:30am to get to work.  I imagine the stores open at 9am and everything closes around 4:00pm. Restaurants seem remain closed until after the last prayer of the day, around 6:30pm. There are 6 prayers a day: Fajr (~05:13AM), Sunrise (~06:24AM), Dhuhr (~12:20PM), Asr (~3:41PM), Maghrib (~6:14PM), and Isha'a (~7:22PM). The Call to Prayer call be heard from all over City Centre as we live near two beautiful Mosques. Between the early sunrise around 6:00AM, the first Call to Prayer, and me being a light sleeper it's hard for me to sleep through it. But thanks to my friend, Noelle, I have an eye mask and earplugs which have been the best! Thanks again!

Work

I'm sure a lot of you are wondering how the heck I ended up spending my summer in Tanzania, so let me quickly explain... In January 2017, I was accepted into a National Cancer Institute funded fellowship program, Cancer Epidemiology Education in Special Populations (CEESP) at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). During the application process I was asked to propose a project relating to cancer, so naturally, I decided to look at cervical cancer. I worked closely with the program director, Dr. Amr Soliman and proposed a research project analyzing disparities in cervical cancer follow-up screening and treatment usage among Tanzanian women. I'll basically be interview these women and ask them WHY they did not use their referral for a second opinion and/or treatment. The project is a continuation of last year's CEESP fellow who found that ~50% of women who receive a positive cervical cancer screening at their local clinic do not use their referral to the Ocean Road Cancer Institute (ORCI), which is the only cancer treatment center in Tanzania. I was drawn to Tanzania as it there is a huge need to research in this area as cervical cancer is the most common cancer in Tanzania, in fact, 80% of ORCI patients are being treated for cervical cancer. At this point, you may be thinking about the HPV vaccine and how it prevents cervical cancer. As it stands right now, the HPV vaccine is not available in the country. Needlessness to say, I'm happy that my work, hope it will bring these barriers to light so they can be addressed and resolved.

 Ocean Road Cancer Institute

Ocean Road Cancer Institute

People

The people here are so sweet! I feel like I get special attention compared to the other three fellows. I've been told that I look like I could be Tanzanian so I've been approached a bazillion times in straight Swahili and I either give the blank stare and give reply to their greeting and ask if they know english. Most of the time they know english which is nice, but being on the other side of the language barrier is tough. Luckily, I have 14 more weeks to get it together. Right now, I depend on smiling as it pretty universal. 

Food

It has been unexpectedly difficult to find traditional Tanzanian food. Most of the Tanzanian food I've had was from the Canteen behind ORCI. I've tried Ndizi Samaki (Fish & Plantains), Ugali Mboga (Vegetables), and Mali Mboga (Vegetables and Rice). I have eaten more Indian, Lebanese, French and Chinese food; such as Mixed Vegetable Curry, Fafafel, Crepes, Prawns & Mixed Vegetables, etc. I'd probably find more traditional foods on the streets but I was strongly discouraged from eating street food. Though I haven't had a ton of Tanzanian food. I've noticed their diets are very carb-based. Most of the dishes I've had/seen has a huge serving of rice or other carbs with a small portion of protein, and a smidgen of vegetables, if any. I've been "adventurous" and purchases mangoes, oranges, carrots, potatoes, and kidney beans from street vendors. As long as I wash and/or peel fruits and vegetables myself then its good to eat.

Weather

You've probably assumed its blazing hot near given I'm in Africa and Tanzania is by the equator. And yes, I'd be lying if I said it wasn't HOT. But thankfully, it is the rainy season so it is the mildest temperatures of the year. I haven't checked the weather too many times because either way I dressed conservatively and all covered up, but the mornings typically start at 77 degrees and the peak temperature has been around 87 degrees. I almost want to say its hotter in Maryland, but I'll hold off as I still have to get through June, July, and August! LOL. Back to the rain though, it is unpredictable... and it doesn't play. The locals don't seem to be phased by the rain and don't use umbrella so I thought I could suck it up, and I did for the first five days or so but on Saturday we were rained for a solid 35 minutes. Now, I shamelessly whip out my umbrella whenever it drains! It never JUST drizzles here. It's always escalated to a long lasting downpour.

Transportation

LOL. I laugh because being a passenger and pedestrian are equally scary! There are a lot of intersections here with no street lights, stop signs, crossing guards, cross walks, right of ways. Additionally, the closest thing to a street sign I've seen is Pepsi advertising. They don't use any of the signage we use in the states. As you probably guessed, I do not drive here. We usually walk, day and night. If we are going somewhere outside of City Centre we usually taxi. Which can be hard because they're are no standardized taxi rates here. The driver throws out a drive which is usually too high (my hypothesis is because they know we are not local and assume we have the money to blow) but we've learned to negotiate. They don't like it at all but if you tell them "never mind" or "that's too high, I'll find another taxi", 99% of the time as you walk away they'll beep their horn and accept our price. We have also tried "Bajajis", which are like a little golf cart built over a motorcycle, the rates tend to be a lot cheaper than taxis but can only safely hold 3 people even though the drivers claim 4 people is fine!!! Words can't express my experiences with them thus far, just watch the video LOL.

Language

As I just mentioned, most people speak either Swahili or English. Here are a few phrases that I'm working on:

  • Habari = Hello/How are you?
  • Nzuri = Reply to Habari 'how are you?'
  • Karibu = Welcome
  • Jina langa ni.... = My name is...
  • Natoka = I'm from...
  • Kwaheri = Goodbye
  • Asante = Thank you
  • Hapana asante = No thank you

Fun things we did this week

Every night, we have typically ventured out to different restaurants within and outside City Centre. On Saturday, we ventured to the Kariakoo Market, about a mile away from our apartment. It know as one of the busiest and most thrilling markets in Dar es Salaam. Our mentors here thought we were extremely bold and brave after we told them we went there. The outdoor portion was full of vendors selling every fruit, vegetable, bean, grain, and spice you can imagine. The inside was like a warehouse with tons of outdoorsy, gardening merchandise. Unfortunately, we were told the area was not a safe place to being valuables. So I didn't get pictures with my phone or camera but maybe one day I'll be more comfortable! Saturday night, we went to an upscale restaurant, Seacliff, which was on the waterfront in the touristy area of Dar. The dinner was hosted my Dr. Soliman, the CEESP Program Director and he visited us CEESP fellows and our ORCI physician mentions. On Sunday, we planned on going to a small island, Bongoyo, which was a 30 boat right from the Seacliff Market. But when we woke up it looked pretty bleak so we decided against it. GLAD WE DID. We went to brunch at Epi D'or Bakery & Restaurant then went to shop/window shop at the Slipway Market. On the walk to the Slipway Market, we came across a few local shops full of clothes and decor. We decided to go to Slipway Market first return to these shops. Remember those long-lasting downpours? Yeah, it happened again. We shopped around for about an hour. And then came the downpour... We camped out at coffee shop for over an hour and ended up giving up and walking to the local shops I mentioned earlier. We tried on a bunch of her dresses. They were beautiful but none of the fit, I would definitely come back to her to have something made but I ended up buying a pretty red and blue flowy top for 15,000 shillings. After that we headed back home in a BAJAJI. Cooked the dinner using the veggies and rice we bought on Saturday and made vegetable curry over rice. :) 

If you have any questions or want me to read about a different aspect of Dar let me know!! 

Until next time <3