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First day of work

Posted by on May 25, 2011

On Monday an all day conference was happening between all of key players of malaria control for Zanzibar.  This meeting included ZMCP, CDC, WHO, USAID, PMI, RTI, and several other acronyms that I won’t bother listing.  Knowing that Stacy and I only had two days to train, we met at 7 and took a taxi to ZMCP so she should orientate me a bit before the meeting which started at 8 am.  I was introduced to some of the staff and given a whirlwind account of the important files she has on a flash drive before we were shuttled to a hotel and conference center nearby.

Check out the view from the hotel here:

Ocean View conference

The meeting was eye opening in several ways.  I was given a good introduction to the people I’ll be working with and some of the projects that are going on.  During each presentation, the speaker talked about goals for the next year, the funding needed for achieve those goals, and the gaps in the funding.  I would guess on average, that the gap is 98-99% of the needed funds.  PMI (the President’s malaria Initiative, probably one of the only good things GW did) which has been a big supporter here is hoping to give $45 million to Tanzania next year, much of which will go to Zanzibar.  In the coming months, representatives will meet to discuss which projects should be funded and which should be cut.  I wish they had given a better idea of how past funds have been allocated and clearer program evaluations.

The biggest shock of the day was learning that only ~25-30% of people sleep under bed nets.  And those that do, are using ones that are more than 3 years old and are not as useful because the insecticide has worn out.  And yet no one had a good plan to make bed nets free and universal.  :/

After the meeting, we got a ride back home and I planned to go to the market and buy my first groceries when Stacy called to see if I wanted to go swimming.  Since the market is open late but it’s not safe to swim much past sunset, I decided to forgo food and have a good time.  It’s about a 15 minute walk along a rutted dirt road to this fancy hotel that has a private dock out into the ocean.  For 3000 TSH (about $2) you can swim from the dock in the evening.  I’m not a strong swimmer or much of a water person in general, but I must say: the water here is really nice!  We swam until it started to get dark then walked home and did a bit of grocery shopping.

I bought my first produce: some potatoes, onions and bananas.  I probably got totally ripped off but it only cost $2 so the hell with bargaining.  I’ll learn the real prices later.

The power went out just as we were going to cook dinner at Stacy’s and Claudia’s so we went into town and met up with a friend of theirs instead.  We went to a roof top restaurant in the middle of Stone Town.  It’s the top floor of a fancy hotel and has a great view of the ocean and town.  For me it was kind of a mistake though because jet lag and not sleeping well really hit me and I got very sleepy and was not much fun.  I was very happy to get home at 10:30, knowing that the next day would be another early one.

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