The cool breeze takes advantage of the distant morning sun as I walk towards the airplane that will take me to my next Tanzanian destination, Mbeya. As I reach my assigned middle seat, the Tanzanian woman behind me says “Oh no, go ahead, take the window seat”. I looked at her baffled by this response and asked her “Are you sure?” to which she replied “Of course”. I sit next to the bright window and take a moment to breath, and contemplate where I am about to go.
An airplane, a shuttle bus, a bajaji and a second bus transported us to the rural villages where we provide off-grid solar energy services. While we traveled I questioned who would want to live in this vast, brown savannah. In this dry and almost inhuman place where the only constant is the heat from the rising sun. A place where water is more a mirage than a reality. I could only reason one idea, natural selection. You must evolve in this landscape to understand its intricacy. To appreciate and care for it you must yield its benefits. Out here the land is the provider. The land is the inhabitants’ savior. A good harvest decides whether you eat or you starve. It is a primitive way of life. Entertainment is a luxury, and access to education and basic human needs do not exist. It is a monotonous life. And so it feels like the perfect place to provide aid.
I visited the first village, Chilangu, where we do not yet provide any services. This means that no one in the tribe has access to electricity. Walking around the village along the man-made pathways, I look, I stare. Like a small boy I am curious about every single action the villagers make. Every move, every gesture. “Karibu” (Welcome) they say. “Asante” (Thanks) I respond. The villagers are very friendly and smiles abound. Kids look at me confused. They fear my contrast. I am a Mzungu (white man). I get close to them with my camera and they run. They laugh. They are enjoying my presence. I am a distraction.
The level of poverty I see is like no other. Women sit in front of their humbled brick made houses with grass ceilings. No doors nor windows. Life inside is pitch black. Harvest season is coming up and men work all day in their farms. Corn, beans and sunflowers will provide the much needed income to survive. The future looks hopeful; food might be on the table.
Our work is picking up. People are slowly accepting the energy services we provide but there is still a lot of work to do. Improving their way of life has become my priority and current obsession. Below are a few pictures of the work that we are doing in the field!