Tanzania on Tuesday – Same / Different

(This is the next installment in my series that began here about our return trip to Tanzania after 15 years away.)

It’s a pretty simplistic reflection tool- what’s the same, what’s different. But how could we start anywhere else? That was the dominant reaction for both of us, especially in our “home town” of Monduli. What a blessing for Scott and me to be able to share the observations with each other knowing the other would completely get it!  Some of you have been to Monduli too, but even if you haven’t you might appreciate what we noticed.

Let’s start with the amazing fact that there are about 15 teachers and staff who are the same! It was such a pleasure to see and talk with them. I marvel at their long-term commitment to teaching and Moringe Sokoine Secondary School, not to mention each other. We heard touching stories about how colleagues had stood by each other in tough times and several mentioned a feeling of the “Moringe family.” Twenty years ago as people were mid-career there was a sense that upon retirement everyone would return to their extended families in tribal areas across northern Tanzania. What a change and demonstration of their commitment to each other, that so many have moved from teacher housing at the school and built their own homes near one another. We joked more than once that during our next visit we will come to the “Moringe Sokoine Retirement Village” to visit everyone!




Here’s Scott’s home on the school grounds 20 years ago and today- pretty much the same.




Here’s Amy’s home then (rainy season and dry season):



And now:


Other than the satellite dish, the most notable change was that the trees I planted in ’98 are now tall and cast a heavy shade on the house and yard. I remember thinking the seedlings could not possibly all survive. Apparently they thrived to the extent that the new occupant, a Tanzania pastor, had to thin them out when he arrived last year. It was a delight to be invited inside and also to sit atop the beloved water tank where many of us enjoyed sunsets and star gazing. You can see the view down to the plain is now entirely blocked by trees.


Moringe still has the same bell- an old metal disc and a piece of iron which has a pretty good ring!


Here’s Bertha Muhe demonstrating the ancient school phone to the children. There were only a few telephones in town back then and they were unreliable at best. We laughed to recall how it required requesting a call through the operator at the post office who would then call back, sometimes days later, once the call went through. The school secretary could be heard from a distance shouting into the phone to determine if the person on the other end could hear her. Of course, all the teachers use cell phones now but students are banned from bringing them to school.


The same graceful jacaranda-lined roads remain throughout Monduli, only now several of them are paved (!!). One does not stroll along quite as lazily as before since there is periodic traffic from vehicles and motorbikes. I noticed that with the population having increased people did not greet every person along the way anymore either.


Most of the streets and paths look the same though. Here’s a good example – deep ditches collect trash and it’s easy to trip if you’re not paying attention.


The big Sunday market is still a barrage of colors and smells where one can buy anything from tire sandals to fruit and colorful cloth.





PO Box 98 still remains. How many volunteers used that box over the years and how many times a week would we visit hoping it might contain news from home?


The center of town is much denser with many more shops and homes.  But mostly it looks the same – buildings are generally small, some look pretty run down and you are still likely to encounter animals rambling about.




We were quite surprised to find this new multi-story building on the main road. A sign of things to come?


And a 24 hour ATM in town, really!? We never tried it but were told it does work.


Still the same though is how your feet look after a walk around town! Washing up and being clean have an entirely different importance when you get this dirty. I’m grateful we got to feel that contrast again and be reminded to appreciate simple pleasures like clean feet at bedtime.



5 thoughts on “Tanzania on Tuesday – Same / Different

  1. Amy, Scott, Simon, and Elsa Ruth, Greetings! I am just sending a quick email before going for a walk with a friend but I wanted to say how much I enjoy reading your posts and seeing your pictures. Your commitment to writing on the post and sharing your year with us is enriching our lives. Thank you! We have been thinking of you especially over the Christmas holidays. Are you going to do more travels and how long are the kids off of school? What an amazing year this is for you!! Gustav returned to UWC-USA today and is submitting his last college application tonight. He was accepted to Georgetown so that is exciting! Linnaea is with us until January 24 and it is nice to be able to savor time with her. Kent and I are happy and healthy. It is pretty mild here- not yet below zero! Hugs to you! Love,

    Kristen Stuenkel Please forgive iPad brevity!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Tanzania on Tuesday – Children | sevennorthdakotas

  3. Pingback: Mother’s Day, 2016 | sevennorthdakotas

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