Framme i Cali, Colombia

Vi har inte kunnat logga in tidigare så här kommer ett lite försenat inlägg vi skrev vår första vecka och så fyller vi på därifrån.

Det är bara några dagar kvar av mars och vi har nu varit här i Cali i en vecka och tiden har sprungit iväg betydligt snabbare än vi hade tänkt oss. Första dagarna hade vi båda mycket jetlag och kunde inte göra mycket annat än att vila och komma i ordning. Vi bor i ett delat hus i området San Cayetano som är nära många restauranger, en park och busshållplats. Det var otroligt skönt att ha ett boende ordnat redan innan som dessutom jag, Malin, bott i tidigare under min halvårs praktikperiod här.

Idag, tisdag, var vårt första besök på en organisation i ett av de mest utsatta områdena i Cali. Området är utsatt på grund av att det under de senaste årtiondena flyttat dit många människor som flytt andra delar av Colombia i hopp om ett bättre liv och en ljusare framtid. Detta har resulterat i att många hus byggts som inte registrerats och på mark som inte officiellt ägs av familjerna. Organisationen driver en skola för barn årskurs 1-5 med alla grundämnen inklusive engelska vilket annars bara är något överklassen har råd till i Colombia. De har på grund av olika samarbeten lyckats pressa ner priset så att fler ska ha möjlighet att betala för sina barns utbildning där och dessutom få lära sig engelska. Vi ska tillbaka på fredag för en mer formell intervju med rektorn. Vi har även ett par möten inbokade med ytterligare några sociala organisationer här i Cali.

Ikväll ska vi på middag hos vår kontaktperson för att diskutera vår studie och hur hon kan hjälpa till. Vi har även med oss lite choklad och annat gott att bjuda på från Sverige.

Un abrazo!
Malin y Rolanda

Pole Pole

Since our last update, we have experienced five days without power and hot water. After these five days had passed, we were then overjoyed to be able to take a hot shower and charge our phones. Another week has passed, and we have only nine days left here in Moshi before traveling to Zanzibar for sunshine and bathing. This week we have approached the end of our thesis and have received feedback from our mentor at Malmö University. It feels like a relief that our last work in our education is soon to be completed.

In addition to writing on the essay, we have also managed to visit the International School here in Moshi. We got to attend a lesson in history and one in global politics. The international school differed a lot in comparison to the local school where we conducted our interviews. At the local school there was a completely different authority from the teachers, for example, the students stood up until the teacher gave them permission to sit down. Followed by the students answered the teacher in choir. When it comes to the international school, there were instead several similarities with how upper secondary schools work at home in Sweden. There were also considerably more resources at the International school, they have both swimming pool, boarding house and cafe. Unlike Sweden’s upper secondary schools, the international school have its own seamstress, but also staff who handled the copier and so on.


International School



Yesterday we visited a women’s cooperative who has a small shop here in Moshi. Among other things, we bought some signs made out of banana leafs that are suitable for giving to loved ones. We also managed to find some gifts for our relatives’ children, including The big five, which was sewn in African textiles and lions that were handmade in ebony wood.

Karibu tena! 

Life is changing…

Hi everyone!

This Friday I celebrated 2 weeks here in Ghana! I can’t believe how fast time passes here, it is crazy! It stresses me a bit, to be honest, but really trying to just keep calm and enjoy as much as I can.

So far I have spent a few more days with the first organizations I met with, conducted some more interviews etc. Otherwise, regarding the field study, I’ve been trying to get in contact with some of my contacts, and also making new connections and meeting new people that have been able to put me in contact with valuable persons that I will be able to meet up with! Connections really are everything when it comes to a country like this I have noticed, meeting someone who gets to talk to you in person and see you and hear about your project and can immediately think of friends or relatives that can help you!

The life in Accra is otherwise quite amazing, I’m getting comfy here, I have my house, my roomies, I know the roads, places to eat and where to buy the most amazing fresh fruits! Last week two of my roommates left though, so the house feels quite empty… You really become like a family living here, so we had some tearful goodbyes, but we will for sure meet again in the future!

Also, got very sick last week and after a few days I couldn’t stop thinking I had gotten malaria… So I headed to the hospital for some tests, but luckily it was just some infection that some antibiotics is currently taking care of.

Last Friday I was able to take part in something very amazing, scary, huge, life-changing and overwhelming. I was able to take part in a presentation in two different boys schools here in Accra, regarding the SDGs. A project that is called The World’s Largest Lesson. Where the aim is to educate children about The Sustainable Development Goals. Some of my contacts are from the organization AIESEC, and I will be joining this project related to the SDGs. This is a major advantage for me in my field study, my university study, and for me personally! It is connected exactly to my passions, my goals, and my studies. Back to the presentation, it was in front of hundreds of children (and some adults), and I had to use a microphone…! I have never been very comfortable speaking in front of a lot of people, always tried to avoid it. But I did it! Looking back, I’m not sure how I was able to but I did it! Even though my voice was shaking, my brain froze a few times and I forgot the most simple words in English… And the sweat, it is already SO HOT here, but nervosity makes me sweat, and I had to wear a grey t-shirt… You can imagine the rest haha! BUT I DID IT! It was overwhelming and huge, and life-changing for me because the second I started something fell into place inside of me. I felt that this is exactly where I should be, right here right now. In front of hundreds of children, speaking about their rights and how they are our future and can help make this world a better place. I have goosebumps writing this. I am so grateful for where I have gotten.

As if this wasn’t enough, I got accepted to my master’s program I applied for!

This post feels a bit all over the place now, but that is kinda how I feel now being here. So much is happening, I’m learning so much – about the world, but also about myself. I hope everyone else out there doing their MFS are able to enjoy this life-changing journey as much as me!

Habari?

Last week has been a bit chaotic here in Moshi. We were at our favorite place and worked on our study. From nowhere, there came a real storm and it rained in a way we had never seen before. The rain season is on the way and we have talked about the fact that we have to expect a lot of rain, but we didn’t think it would be like this! The trees fell over the roads and power lines were destroyed. We still have no power from the lines, but our accommodation has a generator now. This means that we can now charge our computers and phones a couple of hours a day.

The water has also been a problem during this time, we have almost no pressure in the shower nor any hot water. So, we have cold and quick showers in the evening. And in order to shower the hair, we first fill a couple of 1.5-liter bottles to be able to get the shampoo and conditioner off the hair. After these events we really understand how dependent we are on electricity and water.

Despite some bad luck with the weather, life has continued. Among other things, we have been to a birthday party to celebrate our friend Sanna. The party was at a restaurant called Samaki (It means fish in Kiswahili). During the evening we got to experience some traditions that are made when it is someone’s birthday. For example, the person who celebrate his or her birthday should feed his guests with a piece of cake, then the person being fed will sing Happy Birthday.

Given that it has been a little cooler weather, we have also done some shopping. Several fabrics have been purchased, some souvenirs, a bag and several kangas.

See you soon!

 

 

Habari? (What’s new?)

The last several days in Tanzania has been educational in many different ways. Firstly, we have learned to appreciate the Swedish schools and their equipment. For example, there is only one computer at the entire school (Msiriwa Secondary School) that only the principal and assistant principal use. The teachers also do not have their own work spaces, there is a small room that everyone shares with a standard that we are not used to. There is also no copier so if the teachers want to copy something they have to go to town which is about 30 minutes away by car. The teachers have only a few textbooks, blackboard and chalks to use as teaching materials. Despite this, they still seem to get into teaching that makes the students manage their finals. Impressive, to say the least!

Teachers room

A rim used as a bell

Secondly, we have learned to endure a heat that cannot be described in words! We were going on an excursion to Lake Chala where we had thought it would be nice to walk a bit in the forest and then cool off in the water. That was not the case! We had to go for an hour to the lookout spot in the pressurized heat of the savannah environment, so no shade! And after a while at the lookout point, we turned and went the same way back. Dizziness was severe, breathing difficult due to height and sweat flowing. But we survived! Then we came to the slope, where you come down to the water. Emelie did not have any difficulty getting down other than she slipped on the gravel a few times. Josefin, on the other hand, has never challenged her fright of heights in that way before! The sweat ran worse than ever and she got some help the last bit down. But we survived this too!

Lake Chala

Last but not least, we met our remote relatives at the pool. It was a wonderful meeting and we recognized ourselves in the individuals…

Karibu Tena!

Being an Eritrean Swede in Zanzibar – A candid reflection on colorism and privilege

One of the first things I knew I had to be cautious about before coming to do a field study in Zanzibar is the privilege I hold as a westerner. Not only was I highly aware of this because of previous travels in East Africa, but also because of knowledge and information that was shared at the preparatory course for the scholarship-recipients in January. The MFS-scholarship I have been given to be able to conduct this study is way more than the yearly income for the average Zanzibari and the majority here live under the poverty line. That alone puts a lot into perspective. What I did not realise, however was that my Eritrean identity would also allow me to have other types of privileges in Zanzibar. These privileges would also be highly related to my research topic of colorism.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term, colorism is a form of internalised racism where the idea is that lighter skin and eurocentric features are better and more desirable. Colorism can manifest itself in many ways, everything from bleaching one’s skin to appear lighter to wishing to marry a person of a lighter skin complexion in order to have lighter-skinned children. Although the phenomenon is highly common all around the world, the discriminatory practice is often not talked about when discussing racism or discrimination on big platforms. 

Sunscreen products with “whitening effects” that can be found in supermarkets and pharmacies here

During my stay here, I have come to realize that being of Eritrean origin has led to me experiencing some privileges, that in my opinion, I would not have experienced if I was of a darker skin complexion or if I had a different hair texture. As a Black woman of Eritrean heritage, I get daily comments from people here about how I must be Ethiopian because of my “beautiful skin and long hair”. My hair is drawing a lot of attention due to its’ thickness and length and there is not one day where I do not hear comments about my hair. Even though it is always nice to receive compliments, it is hard to appreciate them knowing that they are mostly rooted in colorism and the appreciation for phenotypical features that are viewed as “non-African”. 

It is common that tourists and non-Tanzanians in Zanzibar get asked questions about where they are from and in general, there is a curiosity to get to know visitors on the island. The usual assumptions I get about where I am from are Ethiopia, Somalia, “Abyssinia” and when I have worn my hair straight or curly, people assume that I am Arab, Indian or Brazilian. In the outskirts of Stone Town, I was getting comments about me being “cappuccino” (a term used for people who are mixed) and that there could be no way that I was fully African. Which saddens me because of the fact that prior to coming to TZ, I thought I would blend in more with the people here and instead, I have never felt more like an outcast. 

At the same time, it has also become evident to me that White privilege is real and cannot be overlooked. During several occasions, I have experienced a better customer service, welcoming and better attitude in general when being around White westerners than when being in a group of Africans or westerners with African heritage like myself. The internalised racism sits deep and to combat it will take several measures. Hopefully, my study can contribute a little bit to highlighting the important issue of colorism and internalised racism that occurs globally. 

Below you will find a great article about White privilege, written by a fellow Swedish student who is doing an internship in Tanzania. This article also inspired me to write this blog post.

Vithetsnormen i Tanzania

 

First few days in Ghana!

HELLO!

My journey has started! Day 4 here in Accra today, and so far I really really REALLY like it here.

My accommodation is great, I live with the best people! A nice bunch of different nationalities, they are definitely a big part of why I already feel so at home here.

Also, the weather is great. So so great, it is definitely very hot and I’m constantly sweating but I’d take this any day instead of cold and grey weather!

The weekend was very chill, getting into everything. Yesterday I had my first interview with one organization, that is working with street children. I spent the first two hours with one of the workers there out on the street to see how it is. This is in an area of Accra that is mentioned as a scrap-yard. Many children live on the street there, picking metal to sell. We did not get to walk more than five minutes before there was a very serious incident with a young boy there. Nothing has ever affected me as much. This place was really something out of this world. That kind of place you would not ever believe existed unless you saw it with your own eyes. Yesterday was a day that I will remember for the rest of my life and that I will keep in my heart forever.

 

The house I’m living in and the backyard!

Some food one of the girls in the house from Ivory Coast cooked for us, amazing!

They are a big fan of everything ginger here.

Mambo?

We have now finished two out of eight weeks in Tanzania, and we are now having a functional living, more or less. We have, among other things found our self a Bajaj driver, as we now are regulars with. We also bought a washtub and some detergent, so we can now wash our clothes. Monday to Friday we are putting all our effort into our study, and we found a perfect place to do this, which has very nice food and a good garden to sit in, Maembe. Saturday and Sunday we spent on our newfound relaxing place. Honey Badger, which is a hotel with at a pool, which we can use for a fee.


Bajaj Driver, Patrick! 


Cleaning our clothes!


Maembe!


Honey Badger!


In our new everyday life we also found a new favourite perfume, which is the only perfume we use here. It is called “Mygga”, and we use it like we are teenage girls who just came over a bottle of “Date” perfume. It is especially good when you just shaved your legs, it does not burn… not at all, promise 🙂


Msiriwa Secondary School.

Our second week has just now passed, and we primarily focused on our research. Last monday we did our first visit at the school were we supposed to do our interviews at. We got to see Mama Mary, who is the headmaster at Msiriwa Secondary School. Last friday we did our two interviews with four female students. It went over our expectations even if we had to improvise a place were we could complete our last interview. The reason for this was lack of space and classrooms. Instead we had to sit in the garden on the grass, with at burning hot sun and 35 degrees. Overall it all went very well, but we were extremely tired  afterwards. Despite this, we spent the afternoon and evening transcribing our interviews. Above all, it was interesting to hear what the female students had to say about Sexual and reproductive health and rights in school. Many wise words, but also some things that we difficult to understand through a swedish context.

Karibu tena, welcome back!

Stolen phone, injured elbow and applying for research permit

I’ve been in Zanzibar now for 4 weeks and to summarize, it’s been both the best and the worst 4 weeks I’ve had in many years. For starters, my iphone got stolen about two weeks ago while being out with some friends in Stone Town. And when I was trying to reclaim it, I fell and injured my elbow. So for the past weeks my days have consisted of going back and forth to the doctor and to the police station to get updates and hear about the proceedings of finding my phone. I also discovered early on that I need a research permit here in order to interview people in Zanzibar. Which has led me to also spend a lot of time going to different ministries, institutions and banks to fill out papers. Although it’s been stressful having to spend my time going to various places, having contact with the authorities here has given me an insight on how the bureaucracy works in another country. An experience I think I wouldn’t of had if I was “sliding on a räkmacka”.  

On more positive notes, I’ve finally gotten my research permit (yay!), met so many amazing people and have been surrounded by the most stunning environment and scenery. Being the language enthusiast that I am, I also started a 20-hour kiswahili class at the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA). I’ve come to love the language and its’ logical grammar structure and from my experience, Kiswahili is a really easy language to learn. In the following weeks I hope to learn even more swahili and maybe even continue with self-studies when I’m back home in Sweden.

Being injured and living on a paradise island doesn’t give you the best motivation to study but luckily now that I’ve gotten my research permit and my elbow has healed, I can focus all on my studies and also proceed with doing interviews in the coming weeks.

Badaaye (see you)

Freddie Mercury’s house

Typical doors in Zanzibar
My usual dinner at the Forodhani market

Jambo!

Our first week in Moshi, Tanzania, has been amazing and very busy. On the second day we went on a Safari in the nationalpark Tarangire and Ngorongoro. We had two amazing days were we got to see The big five and many more animals such as Zebras, baboons, hyena and so on.



This first week we also went to the Hot springs, wich is a place to swim and relax in the middle of the savanna. It was a long and bumpy ride because it is dry season. But when we came to the Hot springs it was all emerald green. It was really nice to get out from the hot heat in the town of Moshi to cool down and get some fresh air.



When this posts is published we just came back from a coffee tour outside of Moshi. We got to make our own coffee and it was really tasty, much better and very different than the coffee we drink in Sweden. It was also interesting to learn about the process of making coffee and to learn more about the local people and their culture. After this tour we feel like we appreciate the art of making coffee a lot more.

After this first week we have learned that everything in Africa takes a long time, there’s absolutely no stress. For example, you have to wait about twenty minutes to flush the toilet, nobody arrives on time and the dinner takes a long time to prepare. To summarize this week: Hakuna Matata!!