Return to Mwanza, Tanzania

tawe mwanza chapter

I returned to Mwanza, Tanzania, situated on the southeast shore of Lake Victoria, Africa’s largest lake to visit the Tanzanian Association of Women Entrepreneurs (TAWE), with my friends Bev and Carolyn. We have been very warmly greeted by all the women, but especially by the women whom I met last year. Many have been corresponding with me through e-mail, so it was wonderful to get to see them again. We are here to conduct business skills training, focusing on sales, customer service and mentoring skills. The TAWE women want to set up a mentoring program so that the more experienced women can help other women, new to business, learn from the more seasoned. If you want to learn more about TAWE, you can go to www.tawetz.org or www.heartlandinternational.org.

I have done a lot of training in my day, but this type of training is very demanding. We train in English, a translator repeats in Kiswahili to get the right ideas across, we listen to participant responses, making sure we know if they have understood the meaning, and repeat the process over and over all day long. Most of the women do speak some English, but we provide a translator, to make sure that the concepts are heard in both English and Kiswahili. (Kiswahili and English are both “official” languages of Tanzania).

I do love new experiences and had an interesting one today. At lunch I was served a fish head. Yes, that is a fish head, cooked, without its body. The lunch buffet is a starch lover’s paradise. We started with a big helping of rice, a nice big plantain (like squash) cooked in a red sauce (but not spicy), Irish (white) potatoes, sweet potatoes, Ogali (corn flower paste…think Polenta) and a little bit of meat (fish head, chicken leg), beef stew, cooked leafy vegetable (like cooked cabbage) and fresh pineapple. I always say, “When in Rome do as the Romans do… and don’t ask too many questions about what is on your plate”. Actually, it was all quite delicious.

I love being here in Mwanza, I love the business women who are so eager to get the training we are providing and I love the way all in the community have made us feel so welcome.

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