I’m back in Sydney. I’m almost caught up on sleep. Almost. It’s time to start writing about my Project TOTO journey to Tanzania for ActionAid Australia.
I’ll split my posts into two streams:
- Brief essays like my old Unreliable Bangkok series, which I’ll call Unreliable Tanzania. They’ll be personal reflections about my experiences in Tanzania, observing not just ActionAid’s work but also the people, society and country generally — as well as recording my own state of mind. They’ll be presented in rough chronological order, but will weave together thoughts from throughout the journey — much as I did in The Poverty Web.
- There’ll also be posts reflecting on Project TOTO itself. What worked? What didn’t? And, given that ActionAid is already looking for the next outreach blogger, how can we improve things for the next participant and generate more value for ActionAid?
In between, I’ll post my photos on the Project TOTO (ActionAid) Flickr group — but don’t rush there just yet, because currently there’s only photos from the farewell party, and that gives totally the wrong impression.
Now, having explained that framework, this very first Unreliable Tanzania will break the pattern by giving you a quick rundown of my itinerary — because things changed somewhat from the initial plan.
Continue reading “Unreliable Tanzania 1: Fatigue”
It’s D-9 for Project TOTO. My international itinerary has been set and, thanks to some clueful bookings, we’ve squeezed in an extra day for preparation. I leave Sydney next Friday afternoon 26 June.
It seems today I’ll also finally finish the stressful non-TOTO tasks that have interfered with pretty much everything in my life. Provided no-one tosses any more hand grenades in my direction, I’ll therefore have more writing and a clearer plan later today — both for the preparation and for my time in Tanzania.
OK, the timetable and the plan as it stands…
There’s three main ways to fly from Sydney to Dar es Salaam. One goes through Perth and Johannesburg. Another goes via Dubai and Nairobi. But the plan which best suits our needs goes via Bangkok in three flights.
- Depart Sydney on Friday 26 June at 1530 via Thai Airways, arriving in Bangkok at 2155 local time. My last trip to Bangkok was the same flight, TG996, but the old Boeing 747 has been replaced by a Boeing 777. If we get phonecasting working I’ll try posting a podcast while flying across outback Australia using the aircraft’s satellite link.
- Depart Bangkok at 0035 via Kenya Airways, arriving in Nairobi on Saturday 27 June at 0605. I’ll sleep across the Indian Ocean, and wake up to the sight of dawn over Kenya from 10km up.
- Depart Nairobi at 0805 via Kenya Airways to touch down in Dar es Salaam at 0920 local time. What a great time to arrive!
From there, the schedule is still as in the project briefing: Saturday to orient myself; Sunday to Zanzibar; Monday and Tuesday in Dar es Salaam working with the ActionAid Tanzania guys; and then Wednesday through Saturday looking at the field projects. I’ve got Sunday 5 July to myself in Dar es Salaam before flying home the way I came.
But I’ve still got lots to do before that…
Continue reading “We have flights! And almost a plan!”
My plan to blog daily hasn’t gone so well, but yesterday’s briefing session at ActionAid Australia went just fine. My head is exploding with information and possibilities. Here’s the brain dump.
- Assuming everything goes to plan, I’ll arrive in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on Saturday 27 June. Two weeks from today. So I leave Sydney in about 12 days, flying (probably) via Perth and South Africa.
- I’ll have most of Saturday to myself to relax and get used to the idea of, you know, being in goddam motherfucking Africa. I’ll also catch up with ActionAid Australia researcher Lena Aahlby, who’s heading over a week before me.
- Sunday 28 June is orientation day with ActionAid Tanzania. “Great, meetings on a Sunday,” I thought. But no. We’re catching the ferry to Zanzibar, like where there’s fabulous tropical beaches, to see for myself that right next to those 5-star resorts there’s the most abject poverty.
- ActionAid Tanzania has chosen two people to be their first official bloggers. They’re based in Dar es Salaam, but travel regularly to all the field projects. One specialises in policy and governance, the other in communications. They can show us the real situation in poor rural areas, sure, but also explain why poverty continues.
- I’ll spend Monday 29 and Tuesday 30 June working with these guys to set up their blogs and introduce them to “social media culture”, for want of a word. We’ll do that in the Dar es Salaam office, where we’ll still have the 1Mb link and access to shops if we’re missing anything.
- For the rest of the week, we’ll travel Tanzania by 4WD and small aircraft, visiting as many field projects as we can fit in. The exact itinerary is still being worked out, but one priority is heading up to the north-west border to Lake Victoria and, oh, Rwanda. I’ve heard of that.
- My plan is that we’ll all post something at least once a day, words and at least one picture. Maybe we can post some video. I’ll be sending a bazillion tweets via my Twitter stream. But we’re also working on something special in the podcasting department, which I’ll tell you about later today.
- Since I’m only in the country a short time, I’ll be trying to connect the bloggers to as many people as possible. We’ve already discovered that ActionAid Denmark (Mellemfolkeligt Samvirke) has one of their people blogging from Dar es Salaam, Pernille Baerndtsen — though of course she brings a European perspective.
So there you have it. Over the next 12 days I’ll be telling you what we’re doing and how you can help and so on. I will try to stick to my planned regime of daily posts.
There will be a going-away party announced soon too because, as Kate Carruthers so delightfully put it, “Let’s face it, you might get killed.” Cheers, Kate.
Oh, and ActionAid Australia also gave me a cultural briefing on Tanzania.
[Photos: Lutheran church in Dar es Salaam by Greenery; Lake Victoria, Tanzania, by Marc Veraart. Both used under a Creative Commons license.]
I’ve jut been told that I’m scheduled to arrive in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on Saturday 27 June. Which means I’ll leave Sydney on Thursday 25 or Friday 26, depending on the availability of flights. I’ll post further information as it comes to hand.
People have been asking whether I’m excited about my trip to Africa. To be perfectly honest, I’m not.
Or at least not yet.
Project TOTO is still too abstract. There’s no firm dates, there’s no clear itinerary and, from a project management point of view, no clearly defined goals. Not because the project isn’t happening or doesn’t have support or isn’t being planned properly, but simply because that detailed conversation with ActionAid Australia about priorities has yet to take place.
That conversation is scheduled for this coming Friday 12 June.
Meanwhile, I’ve had many, many things on my mind. Most of them are completely unrelated to Project TOTO. But all of them have conspired to make the last three weeks extremely stressful indeed.
That’s one reason why my last video diary was back on 21 May. That’s a screenshot at the top of this post. I’m looking tired, eh? And I’ve been even more stressed since.
It’s time to catch up. So, even though this is the Queen’s Birthday holiday, here’s a rambling update. With some pictures.
Continue reading “This ain’t no holiday!”