Seeing a real part of Africa for the first time

  • Post by Lan
  • Aug 18, 2020

As a kid, I often watched African wildlife documentaries. Back then, seeing a real wild Africa with huge safaris was my childhood dream. As I grew up, all the worry, all the work and all the hurts of life have taken over my African dream. For some reasons, I went to Europe for my study and Africa at that time sounded like the last place I would ever go on this planet. But I remember reading somewhere that some people destiny is to meet each others. Wherever they are, wherever they go. One day, they meet. Somehow, I had the feeling Africa is the place I have to come in my life. Thanks to an opportunity affiliated with University of Antwerp, I made it to Africa for one work project on women’s empowerment and household well-being of small-holders coffee farmers in Southern Tanzania and central Uganda.

Interview with women

Of course we all know that Africa is not a country and one region of Africa is not identical to another, and we shouldn’t stereotype the whole continent in any way. However, it could not be denied that behind all those luxurious safaris, many parts of Africa remain poor and underdeveloped. Seeing a real part of Africa for the very first time. Experiencing life in a very rural and remote area in southern Tanzania where there is no public transport, no street light, lack of safe drinking water and electricity. I remembered walking far away in the darkness to find some chip to eat.

Interview with women

One woman I interviewed for my project told me that everyday she (sometimes her husband and her kids) had to walk 10km to carry unsafe drinking water home. I was horrifired to look at the water they use to cook but what choice can they have? People, many of whom are children are drinking dirty water and contracting serious health issues such as cholera and diarrhoea; which are the number 1 first killer of African children…

Interview with women

I learnt from another woman that life has been so difficult for herself and her kids since her husband left her for another woman and took all the money from selling coffee with him. People, many of whom are children, are fighting for survival on a daily basis…

As a person studying development, I had lots of lectures about access to drinking water and sanitation but to be very honest, I did not imagine the situation could be that severe until when I experienced it myself. Safe water is a necessity. Water is not only for drinking. It is necessary to have good health and therefore enable people to do what they have the reasons to value doing…