I just left Moshi, Tanzania, where I spent five months volunteering for TATU Project. I arrived in August 2015, almost fleeing my place, excited to meet my new African friends and International colleagues. I left behind my old Country, pretty sure I wouldn’t have found it any different some months later, my mum waving off at me at the airport, my friends who until the very last moment were asking me “You said you are going where? Zaire?”;
I left behind the usual and well-known Italian life style to measure myself with a new adventure, a challenging experience.
For five months I was part of a great group. TATU Project is working in Msitu wa Tembo together with a women group called Kazi na Sala. They have a lot of ongoing projects in the small village, from bicycles renting to jewelry production, and many more, all aiming at raising the issue of women empowerment in the area.
Unfortunately, women in Tanzania, like many other Countries, are still considered inferior to men, sometimes mistreated even by those who are supposed to be taking care of them. It’s painful to see how some social, economic and cultural issues are so difficult to eradicate. The process is slow, the way long, the path slippery: there’s no easy way to freedom and development.
Every time I went to the village, travelling by crowded claustrophobic small buses or at the top of shaky rickety sand-trucks, I learnt many things on local life, some words of Swahili, a lovely language which unfortunately I had no time to practice and improve, and most of all I appreciated the courtesy and kindness of people, their way of welcoming me and making me feel home. It may sound pathetic and even pretty naïve, but I consider it the best lesson ever, especially today, when in our “Western world” so many of us are afraid of strangers.
Everything seems so grey and uncolored here in Italy; giant skyscrapers means little comparing to the soft gentle wood-and-mud made houses of Msitu wa Tembo; the big bus and the high-speed train may save my time but give me no company when travelling. I am not sure this is still my country, now that I know that a smile is enough to make you feel home.