Thursday, October 27, 2011

Who turned up the heat??

Hello everyone

Well again I must say I had intended to blog sooner and yes of course I have a good excuse to hand :)  The summer has arrived in Dar and with that brings intense heat and humidity! Previously my commute to work while a little long was with the heat I arrive to the office with hair that looks like I stuck my finger in a plug socket and with my shirt stuck to me...Nice image I know!

So anyway with that little moan out of the way, I should really update you with progress of work with TAWLA and of course life generally in this vibrant city.

TAWLA - Sexual Reproductive Health Rights Conference and Meeting with the Development Partners Working Group Gender

I have decided to write about two events that I have been involved with through my work with TAWLA since last blogging.

TAWLA hosted an international 3 day conference on 'Sexual Reproductive Health Rights' in Dar es Salaam from 5-7 October which was attended by advocates and activists from all around the world. The following countries were represented: Tanzania, Malawi, Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Mexico, Nepal,  Uruguay and the US.  I was there as a rapporteur and I am happy to share the report with anyone who has an interest in reading it (although it does run to over 80 pages).

The objective of the conference was for the delegates to learn from experiences and initiatives adopted in other countries which have sought to promote safe maternal health and sexual reproductive health rights.  Unfortunately, even today as I type this blog too many women are dying during child birth; they have limited access to contraceptives placing them at a higher risk to negotiate safe sex and are denied medical care and treatment during their pregnancies or post abortion care where relevant.  Women living in poverty are most at risk. 

The rate of maternal death remains high in Tanzania with nineteen women dying in child birth every day, hospitals in the country lack quality services despite the fact that maternal child health care is recognized as an important aspect of the country’s development. Following the Arusha Declaration the government has been the primary provider of health services. The government is also bound by the Mikukuta Protocol. To put the situation in context there is only one medical doctor per 53,000 Tanzanian citizens and in remote rural areas this is considerably higher.  Urgent action is required.  Tanzania is currently undergoing a Constitutional review process and TAWLA will be advocating strongly for better representation of women in the new Constitution which will respect their sexual and reproductive health rights.  The direct link between gender equity and poverty reductive is globally recognized. I believe that we need to recognize that all women’s rights (including legal, education, health, employment, decision making, access and control over resources, care burden etc.) are hinged on the woman’s ability to control her own body and procreation.  Hence addressing and ensuring the protection of a women's sexual reproductive health rights is crucial for female empowerment.

Abortion is illegal in Tanzania, albeit with the exception where the woman's life is in danger.  Notwithstanding this "unsafe or street abortions" with very crude methods of inducing a miscarriage are performed on a daily basis here.  As part of a group exercise I was shocked to learn that I was the only person who did not personally know anyone who had had an abortion.  I was brought to tears on more than one occasion during the course of the conference. Tanzania is culturally conservative. Even to have such an open debate on these issues is heartening.  I was impressed to see my colleagues talk passionately about this and how it can be addressed.  Some of the women shared with us their own personal experiences which was incredibly braved. The silence needs to be broken and I hope that this conference has assisted in building a movement with the various stakeholders i.e. legal and medical profession who can work together to better protect women.

Meeting with the Development Partners Working Group on Gender (DPWG)

So if memory serves me correctly I had mentioned that I had met with the Gender Team from the Irish Embassy and from that TAWLA had been given the opportunity to present in front of the DPWG.  The DPWG is comprised of 15 of the largest donors in Tanzania that specifically focus on gender issues.  I worked together with two of my colleagues to ensure that we had a professional power point presentation which highlighted the achievements that TAWLA has had in the past and our aims and objectives for the future.  The meeting went very well and I genuinely believe that the partners were impressed.  It was acknowledged that as TAWLA is working at a grassroots level within the community it's legal officers have their fingers on the pulse when it comes to knowing what women's issues and grievances are in reality.  TAWLA has in place a Stategic Plan which runs until 2014 and while we have secured some funding to fully realise the full potential of the plan more funding is required.  We hope that this meeting will bring with it some much needed funding.  I guess we will just have to wait and see with our fingers crossed. In meantime we continue with our work!

My first "Send off" Party - Fun night out with the girls from the office

So I guess everyone probably wants to know what  a "send off" party is??  Well when a woman marries here her family throws her an elaborate party in advance of the wedding ceremony, as once she is married she becomes a member of her husband's clan/family.   Zera, the bride to be looked beautiful.  Although it is a solemn and serious ceremony for her and the bride to be is not meant to smile at all! The theme colour for the party was purple.  Every table was adorned in purple ribbons, flowers, candles and purple silk saris were draped from the roof.  The room was lit with fairy lights. We were all encouraged to wear purple! Everyone who is invited to the party is asked to make a minimum contribution, I wonder if that tradition could be introduced in Ireland?  Ha ha..... There were a number of elaborate speeches and ceremonies throughout the evening.  Everyone danced the length of the room carrying their present to the bride to be...You may recall in a previous blog my colleagues had said my dancing was so bad I had two left legs not even just two left feet! So you can imagine I was more than a little self conscious as I wiggled my way up to Zera in front of 200 of her nearest and dearest!

Unfortunately, my camera has decided it no longer wants to work so I wasn't able to take any photos.  My words do not do the occasion justice at all!

Life is good here in Dar...yesterday evening after work I went for a refreshing swim in the Indian ocean..yes it was blissful especially after an hour in crowded dala dala in 30 degree heat!

Anyway, I better finish up my tummy is grumbling and craving some wali maraghe (rice and beans)

Take care 

So apart from 

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Work, Rest and Play (well work and play in any event!)

Hi Everyone

Since my last post I have gotten back into the swing of things pretty quickly workwise and my holiday with my parents feel like a distant but very nice memory now!

I'll begin this post with an update on progress with TAWLA, but of course with some social commentary to follow!

Progress with TAWLA

Over the past couple of weeks in addition to continuing my research and putting together summary manuals on various pieces of important legislation that I spoke about previously, I have also been more involved in writing funding proposals on behalf of TAWLA. The success of these funding proposals are crucial to the sustainability of TAWLA and to allow it to continue with its work in assisting vulnerable women and children through the delivery of frontline legal services.  It is vital that we can demonstrate on paper in concrete ways how we intend to assist women and children and why international donors should assist us financially.  It is a very steep learning curve for me but one that I am really enjoying!

In addition, this past week we had a meeting with representatives from the Gender Team from the Irish Embassy.  The meeting was very positive and I believe we delivered the content of our strategic plan for 2010-2014 in a very clear much so that we have now been granted an opportunity to deliver a presentation to the Development Partners Working Group on the 24th of October.  The Development Partners Working Group is comprised of representatives from fifteen of the largest donors in Tanzania.  This is a wonderful opportunity for us at TAWLA and we will be working hard over the next couple of weeks to ensure that we are ready for the meeting!  Currently, our strategic plan is only 60% funded so in order for us to carry out all of our activities fully it is necessary for us to secure additional funding.  Fingers crossed will be successful in this endeavour.  Our strategic plan has five core objectives: 

  • Legal aid services to indigent women and children provided
  • Land rights and women and children rights promoted
  • Good local governance enhanced
  • Policy and legislative research and advocacy undertaken
  • Capacity and Sustainability of TAWLA strengthened
By way of example under our first strategic objective one of the ways in which we wish to extend legal services to women and children is through the training of paralegals.  Currently in Tanzania there is no co-ordinated education program for paralegals, notwithstanding the fact that they are the primary providers of legal assistance and advice outside of the main urban areas.  Our goal is to provide training to 90 paralegals and to provide them with bicycles and some remuneration so that more people in rural communities can be reached and have real access to justice.  I hope that we will be able to achieve these goals...I will of course keep you updated on this progress!

Cycle Caravans and Goat Races and Birthday Parties

So for anyone who has been on facebook recently you will have known that I attended the annual Dar Cycle caravan.  The cycle caravan is in it's sixth year and attracts in excess of 200 hundred cycles.  This year the theme was combating climate change.  We cycle through the streets of Dar es Salaam and raise awareness...You can check out photos through the following link which were taken by a talented American artist who is based here in Dar:  

So following on from the cycle caravan we had a quick shower in the Holiday Inn (many thanks Peggy for the facilities) and off we headed to the Goat Races!  Yes you heard me correctly the Goat Races...they really are not so different to the Galway Races at home...Everyone drinks far too much and leaves at the end of the day having not seen one horse (well goat in the case of Dar!).  Plus there is a fancy dress element to the Goat Races...although I actually just believe that the guys use it as an excuse to dress up in women's clothes!

It was also my housemates' Elaine's birthday last weekend and after the Goat Races we had a party at an Italian friend's house in Kigamboni...So yes I should have gone home after the party but no went into town dancing!  However, despite the incredibly hectic Saturday I still got up to watch the rugby on the Sunday morning.  I am a very proud Irish woman after all!

So anyone better finish up this little update and get ready for some dinner!

Until next time, hope you are all well.

Eithne xxx

Monday, September 19, 2011

Invasion of the Lynch's

Hello Everyone

Well again I must apologies for my tardiness in keeping everyone updated on developments here in Tanzania but well at least this time I can blame my parents!

I have just returned to work after an amazing two week holiday with my mam and dad.  Contrary to my siblings beliefs we managed not to kill each other and got on like a house on fire! Mam and dad arrived on the 2nd of September and I have to say it was fantastic to see them even though its only been three months. The first day of the holiday was spent chilling out in Kigamboni and swimming in the Indian ocean.  For everyone who knows my Dad well, it did not take him long to acquaint himself with some of Tanzania's best known beers and after a few trial runs he settled on Kilimanjaro as his favorite which I must admit is a very good choice.  On Saturday after a day of relaxation I took them on a tour of my adopted home city Dar es Salaam.  Mam and dad adapted well to the bajajs (or tuc tucs as they are referred to in South East Asia) and we began our city tour with a visit to Wonder Welders which is an NGO which employs people with various disabilities and produces some of the best quality crafts that you will find in the city.  From there we went to Macumbusho cultural centre.  The centre provides a fascinating insight into the various tribes of Tanzania (there are 120 in total) and recreates the various types of housing that each of the tribes would have built historically.  After this we went for a spot of lunch at Samaki Samaki and rounded off the day with sundowners at the Seacliff Hotel.

The following day we again ventured into the city and spent a most enjoyable afternoon with Mama Kibache, Mr Kabir and two of my friends and colleagues Julian and Miriam.  Mama Kibache is the mother of a Tanzanian friend of mine who I met in Ireland before coming out here.  Mama Kibache is a retired teacher and former member of parliament which given my parents background lead to a most enjoyable afternoon of political exchanges and debates about the education system in Ireland in comparison to Tanzania.  Later that evening we joined the Irish Society in the Holiday Inn and watched the hurling all Ireland...While we should have had an early night considering we were going on safari the next day in true Irish style we of course had one too many beers (wine in my case!).

So began stage two of our holiday.  We left on Monday morning for the Seleous game reserve.  We were travelling with Tende my housemate and his company so it was great and we had total flexibility on the pace. It took about 6 hours to reach our lodgings "Hippo Camp".  The first three hours were on paved roads but the second 3 were on unpaved roads so that was interesting!  When we arrived we had a sunset cruise on the Rufiji River which was beautiful...lots of crocodiles and hippos!  The next day we had a full day game drive and saw lots of lions, hippos, giraffe, zebra and elephants!  It was amazing...although I think I provided the most entertainment by nearly jumping out of my seat when the male lion got a little too close!!    The next day we had another day of game driving...the highlight of which was a mother lion and her two cubs chilling out in the shade...On our third day we did a walking safari through the game reserve...I was a little hesitant but it was OK we didn't get attacked by anything...that afternoon we chilled out back at camp and then had the most amazing dinner out on a sandbank of the Rufiji River...The food, the wine, the campfire, the company it was all just perfect...I didnt want to leave but alas as much as me and Tende said to my parents we should just camp there they were having none of it!  The next day we visited a village nearby and my dad had a great time bargaining over souveneirs and even had a beer in the "local"...That afternoon we headed back to Dar.

And so began stage three of our holiday.  We spent the weekend in Dar and had a lovely lunch with the Irish Society up on the peninsula..Again we ate like kings and had a spit roast pig and a ridiculous amount of other gourmet delights! The next day we left for Zanzibar and spent three days exploring the souks of Stonetown.  I really can't mention Zanzibar without remembering all of those families who have lost loved ones in the ferry disaster...My thoughts are prayers are with them all....I hope that a proper investigation is undertaken and that such a tragedy can be prevented in the future.  While we were in Stonetown we met up with Tom O'Donoghue who is a retired teacher and is out here volunteering with VSO...We had planned to spend a day at the school he works at but the school was closed as there was three days of national mourning to remember those who had lost their lives.  So we spent an enjoyable afternoon catching up over lunch..I hadn't seen Tom since I first arrived in Tanzania so it was nice to meet up again.

And so began the final stage of my parents trip.  They stayed with me in my house for their final two nights.  Their final day was spent down in Ilala where my office is based.  They even used the dala dalas that I get to work every day...although after doing it one way it was decided that they were happy to just pay the taxi fare to get back! My parents were really touched by Ilala and the work that TAWLA does there.  I think they could see first hand after being in the area the evident poverty and the need for the valuable service that we provide there.  It was great that they got to meet some of my colleagues and to experience my reason for being here.  They even had a soft drink at my 'local restaurant'.  We had lunch up in Slipway which is a really lovely area down by the waterfront and relaxed under the bandas.  That afternoon we spent in my front garden relaxing in the hammocks.  Me and my mam chatted for hours...we could have been at our kitchen table the only thing missing was a cup of Barry's tea! We had a family dinner that night with Elaine, Tende and Tara.  Tende cooked an amazing meal with impala that we had brought home from safari.  Even as I am writing this I am starting to well up a little...I really had a wonderful two weeks with my parents but like all good things it had to come to an end....

I have settled back in well to work and have hit the ground running! The break with my parents was really wonderful....In addition to my work with TAWLA I have just been accepted onto a funded online course on anti-corruption and human development which is being run by the UNDP.  I reckon that should keep me out of the pub and trouble for a while!  I think my liver could do with the break after such an amazing sporting weekend!! Hats off to the boys in Green and the boys in Blue! I've set out below a selection of photos from our hols...Until next time I hope you are all well :)...

Some photos uploaded this time!

Lala salaam (Goodnight x)

Monday, August 22, 2011

The Big Trip Upcountry and Birthday Surprises

Hello everyone

I should start by saying thank you so much for all your kind birthday wishes and lovely presents most of which have arrived at this stage :)

So it's been a little too long since my last blog but well it's been a really busy couple of weeks.  I will endeavour to blog more regularly as I have nearly forgotten what I did last week never mind two weeks ago!


So for anyone who has been on facebook recently you will have read that I was in Arusha with work.  I attended with three of my colleagues at a gender sensitisation training program.  The program was delivered to twenty key stakeholders within the Mererani community (Mererani is located about 70 km outside of Arusha).  The training was interactive and concentrated on the Law of the Marriage Act, the Law of the Child Act, succession rights and the importance of will writing. The participants were also given guidance on self representation so that members of the community could represent themselves through the formal court system also.

Participants were educated on the importance of proper implementation of these laws to ensure that the rights of women and children are properly protected.  For example, it is a common held belief that in the case of separation unless the child is of tender years (i.e below 7 years) the child should always remain with the father.  However, the Law of the Child Act requires that in determining which parent should have custody of the child it is the best interests of the child which should be the determining factor.  While the training was all through swahilli, and much of it had to be translated for me, I did understand the gist of these debates and it was very interesting to listen and understand the cultural context within which these laws have to be upheld. I find now because I am surrounded by swahilli speakers all day that my understanding has greatly improved, however my spoken swahilli is still kidogo dogo (broken at best!).

In an earlier blog I mentioned that there are very few practising advocates in Tanzania relative to the large population.  Tanzania has a population of approximately 35 million but only 450 advocates.  This, in addition to the high costs of legal representation, mean that many people cannot access justice through the formal legal system.  Therefore, many people will resolve their disputes by seeking guidance from senior members of their communities.  It was these members of the Mererani community that we targeted for our training.  Therefore, the training which we conduct is crucial to ensure that the correct legal information about rights in relation to marriage disputes, succession and child protection and so on is disseminated amongst the general populace.  No pressure then! I have to say I was so impressed with my colleagues.  Their talks were informative and also sensitive to customary laws which at times do conflict with the formal laws which are introduced at government level.

Weekend Break in Arusha....
The training took place on a Thursday and Friday but rather than coming back to Dar the next day I stayed on with a friend of mine Saorlaith who is working in Arusha with the UN.  Saorlaith was the consummate host and I had my first hot shower in about two months which was lovely :) This was a great comfort as I was feeling pretty miserable with a headcold (my colleagues were convinced it was malaria but thankfully it wasn't!).  On the Saturday I volunteered in an orphanage in USA River which is about a 30 minute drive outside of Arusha.  The children were just gorgeous and we had great fun doing arts and crafts and then a good old fashioned game of hide and seek.

While I should have had an early night given my general state of ill health, I decided to throw caution to the wind and head out to a house party. Even though the party was nearly all lawyers who are working in the ICTR it was great fun, maybe we're not such a boring bunch after all!.  My bus back to Dar was leaving at 7 the next morning which meant a 6 o'clock start so you would think that I would have gone to bed and rest??? Absolutely, not myself and Saorlaith went on to a club and danced until the sun was coming up...The bus back to Dar took 10 hours...I would like to be able to say that I slept the entire way home but with Westlife (yes I tell no lie) was blaring through the CD player sleep was not much of an option!  I got into Dar that night a shadow of my former self :)

Birthday Surprising....

So well as you can probably tell I came back from Arusha in a pretty poor state of health.  I stayed with friends in town on the Sunday night so it would be easier to get to work on Monday.  I think though the lack of sleep and flu finally caught up with me and by lunchtime on Monday I was ready for bed.  My only problem was that my flatmate had my keys! I tried a number of times to get my keys unsuccessfully, which at the time I was pretty annoyed about.  When I eventually got home the house was a hive of activity and Emily who works in our house was cooking up a storm.  She told me her boyfriend was visiting and she was cooking traditional African food for him.  She told me to head off to bed and she would wake me when he got there so I could meet him.  So about 4 hours later I was woken still coughing and spluttering and brought into the living room.  I should have been suspicious at this stage considering, we had electricity and Emily wouldn't put on the lights.  It turned out all the food was for my benefit and they had been busy planning a surprise birthday party for me.  Needless to say I felt pretty bad about giving out to Tende about my keys! Oops....thankfully I am all better now.

Anyway, just realised that this blog has been quite long.  Promise to blog more regularly and not leave it for a couple of weeks next time.  I can't believe my parents are here in less than two weeks and I get to go on holidays!

Until next time,

Monday, August 1, 2011

Me and my two left legs!

Hi everyone

I hope you are all well back home and enjoying the long weekend :)

So all is good here in Kigamboni.  I'll start with a quick update from work.

Work continues at TAWLA and Immigration woes appear to be near an end

Last week my immigration battles continued and missed a full day's work while I continue to progress with my residence permit...Let's just say that after a bit of a mad dash around town last Thursday, to secure the necessary dollars from the bureau de change (shillings would not do) I have been assured that my residence permit will be ready for collection on Thursday (fingers crossed!).  In the meantime I have gotten a certified staff of my receipt from none other than the Attorney General's office so at least if I am stopped my an immigration official I will have that comfort...In any event my tourist visa doesn't expire for another month or at least I shouldn't be shown the door any time soon! It is a little frustrating though as it is not possible currently to process any of this documentation in advance of coming!

Last week was a hive of activity in the office...TAWLA was holding interviews for a number of new positions so there were lots of people in interviewing.  However, it did mean that "normal" work was somewhat interrupted.  However, I decided to leave the office early a couple of the days and work from home on the manuals that I mentioned in my earlier blog.  Tanzanian legislation is incredibly similar to our legislation back home.  I guess this is not surprising considering our two countries are former British colonies.  It also makes the tasks that much easier for me to complete!

In addition to progressing this work I have also drafted a report for SIDA who are sponsoring the various posts which we are currently recruiting for. The report brought home to me the importance of accountability and how it is important that NGO's can demonstrate to donors that they have fair and transparent processes in place when recruiting staff using donor funding.  I say this despite the fact that the reporting obligations are at times onerous and generally tedious!

First Office Party - Dancing with my two left legs!

Last Saturday two of my colleagues Miriam and Julienne who are on secondment from FIDA Kenya invited the entire office over to their house for a party.  It was great fun! The girls put on an amazing spread and the food and drink was flowing! Of course then the dancing started! Not one to sit in the corner I of course joined in with full enthusiasm.  I was christened "Two left legs" by Julienne despite my genuine efforts at being co-ordinated!  I was told to shake what my mama gave me! Of course I did but I think I probably will just have to accept that I lack a certain sense of rythym.  I had a great time none the less! Perhaps though I am not quite ready to enter into any local dance competitions!

I want to ride my bicycle.....................

So after a couple of weeks of procrastination...I finally took on the Tanzanian roads on my bicycle! It was fantastic...Ah you all know I used to cycle to work every day when I was in MOP and I forgot how much I missed my bike! I cycled from our house to the ferry (about five km).  Of course as it's been some time since I was on a bike I was a little saddle sore but I consoled myself with some chai and chapati at a little coffee shop near the ferry.  It was a great experience and spurned me on to further adventures so took the bike out again to one of our locals beaches...Hopefully by the time of my next blog update I will have ventured onto the mainland and taken the bike across on the ferry...It would be nice to chalk that one down before my housemate Elaine comes back from holidays in Ireland...She is a complete pro at cycling around Dar! I will take it one road at a time and for now I am comfortable with the quite roads of Kigamboni...this is of course a relative term...lets just say the quays in Dublin were a doddle in comparison to cycling here!  I think in part I was inspired by a book called "Around Africa on my Bike" by a South African Rian's a must for any cycling enthusiast.  The author circumnavigated the entire continent of Africa on his bicycle...It took him over two years through some of Africa's toughest countries Liberia to mention just one!  It's a pretty impressive read, although I don't think I will be following his pedal steps any time soon!

Anyway, will finish off this blog as the mossies are really starting to tuck into me!

Until next time,

Eithne xxx

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Week Five and a bit???

Hi there Everyone

Well it's been a bit longer than I intended since my last blog.  I blame in part the lack of electricity!! The past week or so has been pretty bad and we have been subject to many blackouts.  Anyway now that we do have electricity I should probably update you with life here in Dar.

Progress with TAWLA

If memory serves me correctly I had presented my strategy paper on the hotline service.  Well since then I have been gathering our resources in TAWLA to determine what we material we currently have on file.  While there is some material in kiswahilli I have learnt that there is much to do! I have decided to review the main legislation that will be most relevant to the queries which will be raised through the hotline service (this is based on my discussions with my colleagues who have informed me what the main issues that present themselves in person at the office).  To this extent over the next couple of weeks/perhaps months I will review the Marriage Act, the Child Act, the Civil Procedure Act and the Land Act with a view to setting out the main elements of each Act in a " Frequently Asked Question" format which can be used by the volunteers in TAWLA  when addressing questions raised by members of the public.  I will prepare the various manuals in English and my colleagues will translate the manuals into Kiswahilli which can be used internally by TAWLA.

So in light of the above I think that I will be quite busy over the next while!

I had mentioned in my last blog that I was presenting a seminar on the principles of good legal drafting.  I think that this went well and I got good feed back from my colleagues.  In this regard a number of my colleagues have asked for me to assist with their drafting so that they can incorporate the principles that I spoke about during the seminar, so I will take this as a good sign!  As I am currently based in legal aid I will begin to sit in on consultations again.  The reason is twofold: from a selfish perspective it will help me improve my kiswahilli and will also allow me to assist my colleagues in drafting pleadings for upcoming course cases.

I am also currently reviewing the current HR policies in place by TAWLA and proposing amendments where appropriate.  This is part of the internal good governance initiatives which TAWLA is currently seeking to implement.

We are all hoping that the electricity situation will improve so that work over the coming week will not be interrupted as much as it has been over the last week or so.  I am lucky because we have an inverter at home so it means that I can charge my laptop and work from home as needs be but unfortunately in the office we do not have a generator so when the electricity is off (which at the moment it frequently is) it means that work progress is hampered considerably!  We are hoping to get some additional funding so that we can fix the generator which is currently broken...This would greatly improve the situation.  I have been forewarned that the electricity situation is only going to get worse but at the moment I am continuing to be's hoping my optimism is not in vain....

So the past week has been a mixed bag.....

Immigration Disappointment

Well again I will start with the positives...I have been approved for a work permit in Tanzania but on the downside the cost of the permit has increased from $120 to $500 with effect from 1 July 2011.  I am disheartened because I submitted my application on the 29th of June but the Tanzanian  government will not be swayed and I must pay $500...When you are not earning and are working on a volunteer basis this additional cost is regrettable but I will just have to absorb the cost....On the plus side it means that I will have legal status to stay here for two years so in the grand scheme of things I guess that's not too bad.

Fun stuff...beach...beach and more beach

Well I guess you cannot feel sorry for me at all considering every weekend I do get to enjoy the  beautiful Indian Ocean every weekend....The past two weekends seem to have blended into one so I will try to remember what I got up to! The weekend before last it was my housemates' Tende's birthday and we celebrated with a full moon party at Paulo's (an Italian guy who lives near us) with lots of dancing and plenty of wine..(.the party was at the house of an Italian's so naturally there was plenty of wine)... Last weekend I went to Michocheni and stayed over with two of my colleagues..We went to Rose Garden for dinner which is a long established hangout for Tanzanians and had a feast of ugali and goat...incredibly delicious! On Saturday I went to Jess and Josh an American couple who live near my house for a BBQ which was lovely...I met up with a lot of ex-pats who have lived in Dar for a number of years so it was lovely to meet up with people who have been here for a long time and learn from their experiences! On Sunday I went to mass in my local church.  I have been there a couple of times now so I think people are starting to recognise me.  It is all in kiswahilli so I don't understand much but the beautiful music and singing from the choir makes up for the fact that I cannot understand the sermon or much of the mass for that matter!  Sunday afternoon two of my colleagues and friends Julienne and Miriam came and stayed in Kigamboni with me.  We went to the beach and I worked on my non-existent tan!! I cooked dinner and we just sat around and chatted :)

Home Alone....

So my housemate Elaine and her baby Tara have flown back to Ireland for a holiday.  It will be the first time that Tara has met her aunties and uncles so it very exciting for her and for Elaine to see her family.  It's been three years since she's been home.  On a selfish note of course though I will miss them lots! Tendekye is away on safari and is not back on until the 8th of August so until then it is just me and the cat princess :)

Anyway, I better finish this one off and head off to bed.  We have electricity at the moment though so maybe I indulge myself and watch a DVD on the laptop!

Until next time,

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Week Four and Half...Progress Continues

Hi Everyone

Welcome to my newest update...I had meant to post over the weekend but well life and fun got in the way!

As usual I will start with work first :()

Progress with TAWLA

In my last post I think that I said I would report back on how the presentation of my strategy paper for the hotline would go...Well I had the meeting and thankfully it went really well and my colleagues were very complementary of my ideas.  I met with Anna Marie and Grace and over the course of three hours we shared ideas and plans in relation to the hotline.

It has been agreed that for the hotline to operate effectively TAWLA should concentrate on core issues that women can ring the hotline about.  Essentially the hotline will allow women to call and speak with a member of TAWLA rather than having to come to the office in person...This will be of great benefit to many women for a number of reasons 1) the office may not actually be near to where they live, 2) the cost  of travelling to the office would now be eliminated and 3) there may be occasions where a woman simply cannot make the journey because for example she is physically injured or has small children who are unable to make the journey. The hotline will provide women with basic information and also refer them to other services which are provided by organisations that TAWLA has built relationships with.  For example at present there is only one NGO in Dar which provides emergency accommodation for women who are suffering from domestic violence.  Access to this service may not be readily known by many women and therefore the hotline will amongst other things provide women with this information.  To ensure that TAWLA speaks with one voice I am currently putting together a training manual that all staff who operate the hotline will be required to study. This will range from the manner in which each call must be addressed, the collection of data from the calls and the legal advice which should be given dependent on the query which has been raised.  Much of the work in relation to gender based violence, land rights and matrimonial issues has already been done by TAWLA however there are aspects which need improvement and it has not be arranged into one core document or translated into English so that we can show the donors the content of the advice which will be given to women who use the service.  My job over the next couple of months will be to ensure that there is a central database with all of the relevant information in one file that can be used by all members of TAWLA.  My colleagues will of course have to help me with the translations!

In addition to the above, I am also going to assist TAWLA in improving its internal governance structure.  In this regard I have been ask to prepare a  code of conduct and confidentiality statement that staff will be required to complete.  I am also putting in place a child protection policy that must be adhered to by TAWLA staff.  It looks like I am going to be quite busy over the next while!

I have arranged an in house training seminar on good legal drafting for next Tuesday.  I will report back on how that goes.  Everyone in the office is really looking forward to it.  I of course am pretty nervous and must remember not to speak too quickly! As it is sometimes people struggle to understand me!

And now for the fun stuff....

So seeing that it has been over a week since I last blogged there is a lot to report on the social side of things also! Last Thursday was a public holiday here in Dar called saba saba (which literally means 7/7 which is quite straightforward really considering it was the 7th of the 7th!).  As I had the day off myself Elaine and Tara decided to take a trip into town and buy some material so I could get some dresses made.  Elaine was also looking for a hat for a lavish Indian wedding she is going to this week (which incidentally takes place over 4 days!).  With our shopping done we proceeded to a place called Slipway and had a really nice lunch overlooking the ocean.  Everyone in restaurant was admiring Tara, she is quite a beautiful baby!  We spent the remainder of the day hanging out with friends of Elaine who lived nearby and have a pool so we had a lovely afternoon there!

The next day after work I headed out to a bar called Triniti for the international beat concert which was mainly reggae artists from Tz, Kenya and one guy from Holland, with a guy from the States Andy.  Was really good fun and Tende was pretty happy that I am improving my musical knowledge...Westlife just doesn't really cut it!  Friday was great fun...Saturday morning not so much! But I was up early as a new volunteer from Challenges had arrived in Dar and I had promised to show here what I knew so far of the city and of course for her to come out to Kigamboni and enjoy the beach for the afternoon.  We had a lovely day hanging out in Kippepeo (the name of one of our local beaches...there are many!).   Sunday was nice and relaxing and spent it hanging out on the beach.  While I am still milk bottle white I am slowly starting to take a little bit of a tan! Sunday evening there was an important football final on (apparently, it all went over my head)...but we came home from the beach to find the TV in the front garden surrounded by a bunch of guys shouting encouragements at their respective teams...They cooked up an amazing BBQ of grilled octopus, red snapper and goat so I was pretty happy!

The remainder of this week has been pretty much work so far but tonight I'm heading out to Sweat Easy for a few drinks and to listen to some live music...won't be a late one though have work in the morning!

Until next time,