A collection of journal entries of two students from the University of Western Ontario, Dallas Curow (June-August 2005) and Jonathan Birinyi (June 2005-April 2006). Feel free to read and explore their journey working on the Western Heads East probiotic yogurt nutriontal project in Mwanza, Tanzania, Africa.

Week of June 20th

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This week marked our first full week apart from our predecessors. We experienced some problems along the road, but overall we made it out alive and are looking forward to the challenges this internship will bring.
We started the week off by visiting the Sunday-market with our cleaning lady, Pendo. She did a great job bargaining with the vendors and we were able to make out with our weeks worth of food. Later in the day, Pendo took Dallas out for a long walk all around the city. Mwanza covers a considerable amount of land-mass and touring the city took a few hours. Lots of sights were seen and a good sense of direction of the city was obtained.
Monday morning started off with the weekly Kivulini meeting. After introducing ourselves, we tried to follow the rest of the meeting (in Kiswahilli) to the best of our ability. Luckily, there were a few interns from a university in Morogoro sitting in the meeting who acted as our personal translators. Overall, it was a good meeting, lasting just under an hour. Kivulini was quite busy this week preparing documents for an RHE funding request - something Brian helped draft during his stay.
A relatively large problem happened this week that really tested our patience and problem solving skills. On Tuesday we noticed that our large yogurt fridge was warm, and hence was not running. The yogurt inside was also no longer cold and we had very little space in the smaller yogurt fridge to transfer it. We ended up using our personal fridge to house the yogurt - however, we were worried if the supply (including our probiotic stock) had spoiled. We told Masele, a member at Kivulini about the problem and he told us that he would check it out. However, because they were so swamped with work, no one was able to look at the fridge that day. Consequently, we had no room to put the new batch of yogurt in the fridge. We ended up transferring some cold water in the incubators, hoping it would suffice.
The next day, we made a much needed trip to the bank (to acquire funds if our fridge needed heavy fixing). When we returned it was brought to our attention from Marsele that a power surge must have occurred because the plug had blown. We didn’t notice this anomaly during our first inspection, but to our surprise, after pulling the plug to the fridge, the metal prongs were charred and the underbelly of the plastic had melted. Marsele added that if the two previous interns (who shall remain nameless) had sprung for the slightly better power box (which he recommended at the time of purchase), the accident would have never happened. We explained to Masele that WHE does the best it can on a shoestring budget. Nevertheless, later that day, another plug was purchased and us handy interns managed to splice the wires correctly to make the fridge work again. The yogurt from the Tuesday batch was a bit more sour tasting than normal, but to our inspection, it had formed correctly.
On Wednesday, Jonathan made the first (out of many trips) to NIMR to pick up the weeks supply of probiotics from Simon. Jonathan was told that another batch of probiotics had heavily separated and was not consumable. Continuing where Brian and Cynthia left off, there will have to be some further brainstorming sessions with us and Simon on why this is still happening. Simon mentioned that if/when an automated CO2 chamber at NIMRI gets fixed; incubating the probiotics there may curb the rate.
This week we also had two groups of university students (who were visiting Kivulini) come by and see our yogurt production. It was a good experience explaining the reasoning and processes behind the Western Heads East project - they all had great questions. At the end of each visit, we provided a sample of yogurt to the students to taste. They all loved it and were very thankful for our hospitality.
The remainder of our week was spent reading up on the project and planning for the months ahead. The two of us spent several goal-setting and problem solving sessions during this time. We are working on a small introductory report addressing some of the issues we will be facing. Hopefully we will have that available in a week.
We decided to head out Friday night with some of our new friends from NIMR. We had some dinner and drinks at a restaurant called the Hot Pot. Dallas got her groove on the dance floor quite well with some women from NIMR and their partner organization, AMREF. A bit of a scare came when Jonathan couldn’t find his keys after leaving Hot Pot. We managed to turn the car around and head back in time for Jonathan to find his keys on the ground where he had been sitting. Soon afterwards, we headed to Rumours nightclub and Dallas danced some more, jokingly mimicking Britney Spears and dancing to many of the other outdated songs that were played. A good night was had by all.
Saturday was pretty low-key. We managed to stay inside for most of the day and continue catching up on some bookwork. Also, the internet was off-and-on all week and we were in much need of some correspondence with Canada. Later in the afternoon, Dallas decided to venture on a walk. During her journey, she passed by a small Christian church up on Bugando hill. She was drawn in by the magnificent signing from inside. After walking through the entrance, she saw a choir singing various gospel songs (in Kiswahili). Before she knew it, she was in the middle of the choir belting out the choruses with them. After a few songs were done, Dallas politely and quietly left the premises. She didn’t make it out too far though - the pastor from inside chased her down and wanted her to introduce herself to the rest of the choir. She did, managing to do so in Kiswahili. They had a good laugh at her attempts, but invited her back next Saturday for another practice. Dallas agreed and has decided to make the trip every week.
On Sunday, Eva (Mamma Joyce’s daughter) came over and took us to her local (Catholic) church. The service was very pleasant. The church was packed however; we estimated around 300-400 people were there in attendance. The singing was again very nice, but since it was a Kiswahili service we had a hard time piecing together what they were exactly saying. After the service, we headed again to the Sunday market and managed another successful run for foodstuffs. When we arrived at the apartment, Eva stuck around and showed us how to make chapatti - a lengthy process but with delicious results. In the evening, Pendo and some of her children came by the apartment. Jonathan helped entertain the kids by attempting to play kick-up with a soccer ball, while Dallas received a hair braiding session from Pendo.
We are really looking forward to the week ahead. Wednesday Kivulini has some more visitors. This time, they will be hosting CIDA - the source of funding for our internships. Kindly, Kivulini asked us to spend the day with them. Apparently there will be a photographer from the Associated Press with them too. Hopefully our tour of the yogurt production and our day spent with them will manage well.
Lastly, we are also looking at holding a meeting this week with the yogurt mamas to help clarify some pending issues. We’ll let you know how that goes, but as for now we’re off to bed early to get some rest for tomorrow’s Kivulini meeting.
Wiki kesho
Jonathan and Dallas

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