Our time in Tanzania has drawn to a close. There were definitely sad things about leaving, but at the same time, we both felt very distinctly that the time was right for us to say goodbye to life in Masasi. I’m sure that it will take quite a long time to process all the experiences that we had over the span of two years. Here’s a start to a running catalogue of things that I learned in Africa.
how to kill mosquitoes
It’s trivial but true.
I am the reigning champion of the Masasi Mosquito Hunters Association. I can kill three at a time with my bare hands, blindfolded, in the dark. I just know how they think.
And I am proud of it – sort of like how I always want to show off the orange rinds that I peel in one piece. Killing mosquitoes and peeling oranges… just two of my various and sundry gifts to the world
how to be a better boss
I was reluctant and nervous about having household staff, but the experience really taught me something about working with people. It doesn’t really pay off to be lenient. Instead, what I found works best is to be very kind yet have clear expectations of what I want done. Then I have to express those wishes in a way that someone else can understand (the more specific the better, in most cases). I have a tendency to be open-ended and vague and say, ‘Just do it however you want’ even when I actually have preferences about how a task is accomplished. In many situations, I found it to be most productive to walk through something together one or two times.
I doubt that we’ll be employing any household personnel in the next few years, but I think the things that I learned about managing people will be applicable in a range of situations.
I am also now 100% convinced of the benefit of employing someone to do a job for me if: 1) they’re better at it than I am and 2) I can afford to pay them. Like Matthias driving me to Dar, for example.
how poverty affects everything
I gained so much insight into how pervasive and persistent poverty affects a family’s lifestyle and dreams for the future. A lot of times when Masasi’s power went out, I thought about the double meaning of the word powerless. It is bad for productivity and planning to be without power (electricity). I also thought a lot about how Masasians were powerless (without sway or influence) to change so many of the things that kept them poor.
how to ration and estimate a lot of things
From water usage for a pile of laundry to the number of megabytes used to watch a video online, I now have a much better sense for how I consume.
…to be continued…