Tanzania diary: August 17-August 18

August 17: Fifteen minutes’ drive below the rim of the Ngorongoro Crater—which someone has described as a giant bowl into which God poured His most beautiful wild animals—our four-by-four stops in the bustling town of Karatu. Next to the first set of speed bumps we encounter coming into town, Bumps Café was opened last spring by an American woman named Tina and her soft-spoken Masai husband, Wantay.

Within the next few weeks, Tina and Wantay will sell us at their cost, seventeen thousand shillings (or just over eleven dollars) each, two hundred Envirofit cooking stoves. The sale, and distribution to the villagers Karimu serves, await solution of some minor logistical problems by our Board member in Tanzania, Joas Kahembe. I still think, as I had before leaving California on the first of August, that September or October looks probable.

Tina shows us a stove and explains how she will demonstrate its correct use to four or five villagers bused to Karatu by Joas; they will then teach their neighbors who receive the stoves how to maximize their fuel-efficiency and their smoke-reducing properties.

For Tina and Wantay, even their for-profit sales of the stoves don’t yield much because they know how little cash their intended customers can spare. So we hope our safari driver, Moses, makes good on his promise to spread the word among other drivers about Bumps’ French press coffee—in a country where one must almost always settle for instant coffee—cleanliness which extends to the restrooms, and fairly quick wireless Internet. For making the Envirofit stove available across a wide swath of Tanzania at an affordable price, Tina and Wantay deserve to prosper.

August 18: The ouster this evening from our Kilimanjaro-to-Nairobi flight of two of our African-American volunteers looked briefly like the punchline of a running joke that had originated with our reception in Dareda Kati Village exactly two weeks ago. On that morning the villagers responded coldly to our four African-Americans, mistaking them for Tanzanian translators or safari guides too proud to speak Swahili to poor country people. The villagers’ gradual discovery that not all Americans are white (which I later noted in my speech at our farewell ceremonies) broke the tension.

Now, by the time Jeannice Turner and Londale Theus learn that they will have to fly out of Africa tomorrow, one day late, the villagers’ pleasure in their discovery had become clear to all of us, and some of our white volunteers can jokingly tell Jeannice and Londale that “we knew the Tanzanians didn’t want you to leave.”

Then Precision Airways lets our two other African-Americans board, while bumping me and a couple of other nonblack volunteers, Avery Henderson and Olivia Trevino. So I guess the five of us share the honor of being liked best by the Tanzanians. But whatever affection the Tanzanians have for us, compelling them to cling to us for one more day, cannot rival the respect we feel for them.—Don Stoll

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About Don Stoll

Don and his wife, Marianne Kent-Stoll, are co-founders of the Karimu International Help Foundation. They established Karimu in 2008 at the request of the people of Dareda Kati Village, in the Manyara Region of northeastern Tanzania. Karimu is devoted to working with the residents of Dareda Kati in order to satisfy their development needs, as defined by the villagers themselves.
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