7 MONTHS @ MSABI (Raphael)

Hi!
I just arrived in Switzerland after a pretty long flight (spent 3.5 hours taxiing on a plane in Dar last night due to some technical problem). Feeled very strange to leave Tanzania yesterday and I'll probably need some time to settle down here. The few days break I took in Iringa and Ruaha has helped me to take a little distance from the project and I'm now putting my thoughts back together to write a report on the time I spent here @ MSABI. In a way, it feels a bit like I just went there for a week, but then, when I look back, it's quite impressive to see how much has happened in the last seven months!

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In november 2009 I flew from Switzerland to Dar es Salaam with the purpose of accomplishing my civil service for MSABI, a water and sanitation project based in Ifakara, Tanzania. This was organised with the help and under the supervision of STI (Swiss Tropical Institute) and IHI (Ifakara Health Institute).

I started my stay in Tanzania with a three week swahili course in Stone Town, Zanzibar. Stone Town is a very enjoyable setting and the course gave me a good language background that I later perfected with daily practice in Ifakara. Communication with staff, clients, authorities and local communities is central to the project and there is no doubt that a good understanding of local culture and language makes a big difference for both professional and non-professional relations on the field. Following the language course, I spent one and a half month in Ifakara with Dale and during this period I was capacitated by him as a project manager on different aspects of the project, including staff management, technical knowledge, logistics and bookkeeping.

From late january till june 2010, I conducted four sub-projects under supervision of Mr Young and both directors of STI and IHI, Mr Tanner and Mr Urassa. The four projects were namely (1)the installation of new waterpoints, (2)the construction of compost latrines, (3)the development of filter pots, (4)an education program on water and sanitation for local communities. Between january and june, key achievements of MSABI included the installation of 20 new waterpoints, the construction of a new workshop for the pottery group and 10 new compost latrines, the manufacture of a new Baptist Drilling Set, 130 filter pots prototypes and 36 new rope pumps, the setting-up of a new community education program about water and sanitation and the complete revision of all contracts, infosheets, wages, and installation prices of MSABI. We also presented our activities at the Dar Goat Races (annual charity event in
Dar es Salaam), held the 1st MSABI staff meeting in Idete (2 days late March), put together an overview report of the project, created a new logo and a website for the project (www.msabi.org).

During the last weeks of june, I spent most of my time finishing administrative tasks and handing-over the project management to Mirco, the new volunteer. We reviewed the different projects with Dale and Mirco and discussed strategics for the upcoming months. The project has only been running for a year now, and progress is extremely positive. The number of tasks has increased significantly in the last months and now certainly out-matches the managing capacity of a single staff. I am therefore very happy to welcome Mirco, Nick, Cai and Alyson, our new volunteers. There is still plenty of work to do and I am very confident that they will bring a lot of positive energy on the project in the upcoming months.

Conclusion & Thanks
My implication into MSABI as a project Manager included much responsibility and was a very rich both human and professional experience. It's been a great opportunity for me to work
within a different cultural and economic context and I am grateful to Mr Dale Young (director of MSABI), Mr Honorathy Urassa(director of IHI, Ifakara) and Mr Marcel Tanner (director of STI) for their trust and the great support they provided to me during this time. Also I couldn't have done much without the assistance of Mr Hashim Mtoi and Maurus Sambakali, our two field managers, who have been helping me all along on the field.

I'd still like to thank our friends and sponsors who follow and support the project and I really wish all the best to Dale, Mirco, Nick, Cai, Alyson, Hashim, Maurus, Bruno and all the guys who are working hard out there! I look forward to following MSABI's activities in the upcoming months!!!

Raphael

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PS. Future perspective
I got back to Switzerland yesterday morning and I'll start my next job on next monday for a museum in Neuchâtel (www.men.ch). I'll be working on the design of a new exhibition called "Sounds", first in London and later on in Neuchatel. As far as MSABI is concerned, I'll stay in contact with Dale, Mirco and the upcoming volunteers in the next months and will also keep managing the website of MSABI and make small updates where needed. The last months spent @ MSABI have been a very intense experience for me and although I am not too worn out, I feel I need some time to think over what I experienced and plan what's next. One option I am considering is to come back for a few months at the end of this year and help with hand-over to the next volunteers, while focusing specifically on the design and production of the filter pots.