A Day in the Life

A number of folk have requested I describe ‘my day’ in Tanzania, so here goes.


My home is the largest apartment in The Small Things compound and consists of a kitchen with cold running water, a twin gas top and a fridge. Then there is a living room and a bedroom with a bathroom containing a shower and a classical western toilet.

The kitchen has a table for a workbench, some shelves, a sink, a fridge and a 2-burner gas cooktop. One of the best decisions of what to bring was my long handled Wok, it has been very useful, and the other was my doona.

There are guards 24/7, which is reassuring, but I have no real sense of danger within or outside the compound.

I live with a fairly constant sense of being indulgent as most of my friends and colleagues (this could be 4-8 folk) live in two room houses with no running water or bathroom and an outside toilet.


My day begins around 7am, when on rising, I check to see if the power boards have lights, meaning the electricity is on. There are days where we have no power at all, sometimes for the whole day. Next step is to see if there is Internet. Then, I check the tap to se if we have water, last week it was four days without any water at all. All we can do is purchase two litre plastic bottles of water to provide all our water needs. It is interesting how being denied a basic thing like water causes one to rethink the use of plastic and to also compare my attitude when I live in a developed country like Australia where so much is taken for granted and protest is fairly simple from the location of a 6-8 room house that has hot and cold running water and houses 2-3 people. The water situation in Tanzania is rather dire and if there is to be protest, let it be for basic human needs, then the plastic situation may be alleviated.


Breakfast generally consists of toast with banana, avocado or honey with NZ butter (a real treat), some nuts and dates and drinking either peppermint tea, ginger chai or tasty Kilimanjaro black coffee.  The area I live in grows a large amount of coffee and it is pretty tasty.


Washing clothes is all done by hand, including sheets and towels, at the outside laundry, seems crazy, but I would really like to get my hands on an old mangle, it would make life so much easier.


The week begins on a Monday with staff and outreach meetings at 9am, I am slowly finding ways to get out of these, maybe attend every two or three weeks, meetings tend to do my head in. The studio/workshop opens about 9am and I have gradually moved to opening most days, sometimes Saturday and Sunday, as this increases the exposure and gives me terrific contact with the locals, so many weekend days I sit at the front of the studio and like bees to honey I’m instantly surrounded by gorgeous young folk who are so engaging. Nothing like the jewellery studio has been done here before and it is creating great excitement and enthusiasm in the community.

Students and colleagues arrive around 9-30am and the day begins. The studio is at a bit of a critical point at the moment as all the equipment and tools are now in but the storage has not yet been completed, so chaos tends to be the order of the day. The beautiful nature and personality of the team makes the chaos manageable and at times leads to great hilarity. There is a fair bit of planning going on as the multiple needs for the studio start to reveal themselves. The idea at the moment is to split the studio into 3 areas, continue the classical beading, which has a low profit margin, but brings folk who are in need of support into the Social Enterprise influence. Developing contemporary jewellery designs for production work, wholesale and retail, then there is the wedding and engagement making area, which will be our biggest earner. Interestingly, silver and gold jewellery is sold by the gram, not the final product as is the custom in Australia.

The studio has been named after a line from Khalil Gibran’s “The Prophet”, it is ‘Speak to Us of Love’, it was identified fairly early that love is the glue that binds us together in the studio.

I generally have lunch with the crew from TST and pay for the students to eat locally. Lunch can be anything from a Chipsy, an omelette with potato chips in it, needs lots of chilli sauce on it, crispy fried green bananas, beef savoury stew type of dish, beans, maize in a starchy blob, rice, beans, chapatti and various vegetable dishes. One dish I have a bit of a difficulty with is a green banana and beef stew sort of thing, not for me, although I have tried to get it to pass my lips but without success.

I try to get out once or twice a week for BBQ chicken which is rather yummo, the really good one is done in Arusha on old car bonnets.

Have found a beaut Indian store in Arusha that has all sorts of nuts and dried fruit, a Danish bakery that does the best pastries and bread, a supermarket with New Zealand butter, some decent cheese and some great South African 4-5 year old whites. At the big Arusha markets, I can get good apples, oranges and mandarins, tried some muscatel grapes recently, but they were far too sour. Being able to source a good variety of vegetables became essential and now I make big pots of vegetable curries. I made big pots of chicken and fish curries so as to freeze some, but the constant power outages and not being sure whether the food had defrosted or not put paid to that. I use dried fish (largish is white bait size) as well as tuna and sardines in different rice and pasta dishes

My evening meal may be as simple as crackers with cheese and tomato, some nuts and fruit with a glass of wine.


One of the hardest things is not always having the things that comfort us, like going 4 days without any water for days (including the flush loo), so no hot shower, or wanting to read at night before dropping off to sleep because there is no power for lights. Also, on of the downsides of no rain is the amount of dust, fine talcum powder like dust that gets into everything. One gets used to dirty hands, clothes, surfaces and it goes on.

I go to bed around 8-8.30pm, read a little then off to dreamland.

Where I live is not for the faint-hearted and at times can be rather trying, but the upside is so full of fabulous humanity, everyone greets you in the street with Hujambo, responding with Sijambo (I am fine) and a huge grin.

Thus concludes ‘a day in the life’, any questions, please ask.

Babu Chris