A few weeks ago,I got back in touch with Maulid Rashidi,a young Tanzanian I met on my last trip in the summer.He had just returned from Istanbul, where he was sponsored by an NGO (or probably the Turkish government) to complete a Diploma in Turkish. One year later, he is fluent and volunteering as an interpreter for a Turkish company.
What I like about Maulid is that he’s a talker (his ambition is to be a TV or radio presenter). Since so many Tanzanians are reserved and uncritical in public, I feel I need someone who will ask questions, and help to build the partnerships and local contacts that will be essential to develop the organisation. For now, we need someone who can look after our students.
After speaking to Mujibu, we agreed to appoint Maulid, provide him with a small stipend, and cover his living and out-of-pocket expenses in exchange for his service.
Maulid arrived in Moshi a few days ago, with our first student. (I did not realise at the time, but Mujibu had identified a potential student from Dares salaam, and had sent Maulid to interview him and the family).
The boy’s name is Saidi and he’s 14 years old. On my last WhatsApp video-call with Maulid, I noticed Saidi in the background. And I smiled. Though I have no idea of his story, I trust that Mujibu has chosen well. And I know that we are on to something that could be big one-day.
We’ve also decided on a name for our project – Kijana Kwanza (Young People First). I would love to take the credit for coming up with it, but it was actually Sadath who finally conjured up something that met my long list of criteria.
(I should clarify that ‘kijana‘ means ‘a young person’ (in singular form), even though we have used the plural in English, which is what we intended. Unfortunately, the plural of ‘kijana‘ is rather close to the English word for female genitalia and I can just picture my mates breaking out into bellows of laughter when I introduce the new organisation to them).
I’ll be going to Tanzania on 10 January. And I can’t wait.
Mohammed S Mamdani