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Travel Diary

Day 1: Journey and Cairo unrest

„The journey to Dar es Salaam starts early in the morning. Our flight has been rescheduled to leave earlier than planned at quarter past six in the morning. Once in the airport, we learnt that it has been rescheduled again, due to the political unrests in Cairo. Fortunately, we were told that the uprise would not affect our journey. Long story short - that wasn't true.
The first indicator that something was not quite right was the almost empty plane: Only 16 seats in the whole aircraft were occupied, only 4 in the economy class. Compared to the crew size of 15 people, we, representing 50% of the economy class, probably had the best service/client ratio ever. Once in Cairo, the staff at the transfer desk informed us that since three days no connecting flights were carried through at Cairo, and the customer officer suggested that we could fly back to Germany on the same aircraft we arrived with. After some negotiating (a good introduction to the African way of doing business), we are now sitting in the transfer area, heading for Dubai to transfer from there to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. What an intense start of our big trip!”

Day 2: Arrival in the capital of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam

„The ventilator above the mosquito net is providing a steady stream of air, and helps together with the aircon to linder the effects of the incredible humidity and temperature in Tanzania. The room looks fairly different to the one we had during our transfer in Dubai, but is equipped with all the things we need for the basic survival. We arrrived almost 15 hours behind schedule, thus putting some pressure on our tight schedule. Just came back from a wonderful night with our new friends who took us to a local bar, where we learnt that in Tanzania locals eat with their right hand. We did as they did, and we appreciated being accepted as friends, and not as tourists. They also helped us to arrange the transfer to Moshi, near where we will establish our first solar plant. As this village is quite far away, we will have to get up at 4 a.m. and travel the entire day by bus.”

Day 3: Dangerous race to Moshi

„After getting up early and travelling for long hours, we reached Moshi safely, without an accident. Surprisingly, one could say: The way the local bus drivers surpassed several other vehicles made us think that he would make a great formula one driver - at least less lives would be endangered on Tanzanian streets. Constantly, he overtook other cars whilst other cars were approaching in our direction, and forced them to leave the road. It took us quite a while to recover from this adventure. In the late afternoon, after several police stops and other unplanned delays, we finally reached our destination Moshi. The Pastor of Fukeni, Kennedy Kissanga, collected us and took us with him to Fukeni, the place where we aim to build our solar plant. On the way, children were cheering at us, and waved "Muzungu", which means "White Man". Now, tired as we are, we are about to go to bed, again protected by mosquito nets and much repellent, to recover energy for the day of tomorrow. We couldn't do much anyways, the whole village is dark. This report we write with candel light…”

Day 4: Exploring Fukeni

„Driving around with Kennedy Kissanga's car, he showed us other places in the village that could, in his eyes, be possible locations for setting up the solar plant. His feeling was that in the area surrounding the church the households could already be connected to the national electricity network (Tanesco), for the reason to their closeness to the wires, in contrast to other areas, where no tanesco connection was available. In these remote areas of the village, we became aware of how underdevelopped Fukeni really is, and we could definitely tell that those were not areas where tourists usually go. A woman we asked to take a picture of us even looked through the objective of the camera, not understanding how a digital camera works. In the afternoon, Kennedy invited us to visit the dairy factory in Moshi and demonstrated how Mozzarella was produced.”

Day 5: Mapping the village

„On Wednesday we made a very important observation: The village and its surroundings are very hilly with major altitude differences. For this reason, we decided to gather a picture from above, to better determine the location of the houses that should be provided with energy. In the morning, we went to Moshi (given that Fukeni has no Internet connection), and tried to get a satellite picture of Fukeni form Googlemaps, only to learn, after quite some time of investigation, that the relevant parts of the maps were under a cloud, thus our research did not yield the needed results. Nontheless, the excursion to Moshi was insightful, as we took for the first time in our lives a Dallah-Dallah, a true genuine African experience. Dallah Dallahs are local small buses, packed with people and we felt like sardines. After getting alight from the bus in Moshi, we were approached by many young people who tried to sell us handcrafts of all kind. Back in Fukeni we later this day started drawing our own maps by walking to exposed places, overlooking the different valleys. Measuring, however, was difficult, given the trees, level differences, etc.”

Day 6: Talking to villagers

„Continuing the work we had started the day before, we walked from morning till evening through Fukeni, and consumed around 4 liters of water each, in order to draw a map of the village and surviving the heat. Walking almost through the entire village we were able to find some delightful hidden corners and stop there just to breath the fresh air from all the surrounding nature and, when luckily, observing the Mt Kilimanjaro as Fukeni is located at the foot of it. Lead by the Pastor of Fukeni, we even went to remote areas, where we learnt that not even water supply was available. Furthemore, this gave us a chance to talk to micro entrepreneurs, such as Raffaele Matero, running a small one-man shop in Fukeni. From him we learnt that people had high expectations from our project, as it would, in their eyes, bring air conditioning, fridges and the possibility to run small devices such as drillers or laptops.”

Day 7: Finishing up our work

„On our last day in Fukeni, we finalized our measurements that were left from the last days and thanked the helpful people in Fukeni, spoke to some more people and then said goodbye in the afternoon, where our bus again was 2 hours late. Looking back, we had a very intense but enlightening and extremely satisfying trip, experienced warm-hearted people and had a true insight what life in Africa really means. There is just so much more to this place than what Westeners usually think of when they talk about Africa. We now feel very close with the people of Fukeni and are very much looking forward to pushing our project forward and improving their quality of life through the solar plant. Tutaonana (Auf Wiedersehen) Fukeni.”

The next delegation of African Solar Rise will travel to Tanzania this summer to do further preparations to make our vision come true.

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