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Tanzanian family life

  • Story Highlights
  • Lizzie chose to live with Dennis Maina and his family in Musoma
  • The family has given her an insight into everyday life in the country
  • She has learned how to pluck a chicken, gut a fish and handwash clothes
  • At Dennis's daughter's 10th birthday party, Lizzie teaches new games and bakes a cake
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By Lizzie Cameron for CNN
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MUSOMA, Tanzania (CNN) -- Lizzie Cameron is in Musoma, Tanzania working with the Musoma Engineering Project.


Claire's 10th birthday: "I taught them how to play pin the tail on the donkey, although we replaced a donkey with a zebra, and I baked Claire a birthday banana cake."

The Musoma Engineering Project is the only charity of its kind in the region and aims to provide teaching and support for local disabled children and teenagers.

With the project Lizzie will be helping the teachers teach skills like woodworking, leatherwork and dressmaking. Follow her experiences in her blogs and video diaries.

November 14, 2007
When I signed up to work at the Musoma Engineering Project I was given the option of living in my own house or with a local family. I was really unsure of which to choose but decided to live with Dennis and his family.

I made this decision because I thought it would be good to experience how a Tanzanian family live and I also hoped that Dennis would take me under his wing, so to speak, and look out for me if I got into any trouble or encountered any problems.

After being here for two months I have no doubt that I made the right decision. I really have been made to feel like part of the family and welcomed into their home as if it were my own.

What I've found really interesting is seeing the daily routines and how they differ to back home. Simple activities like cooking, cleaning, shopping, etc. are all performed quite differently to the Western world.

I had anticipated that the food would be different, but if anything I've been pleasantly surprised by what is on offer here.

One thing I like is that you really know where your food has come from. If you want to eat chicken, you point to the one you want then kill it and pluck it yourself. If you want fish, a local fisherman will drop off his daily catch at your house. Nothing is processed, artificial or vacuum packet. If I was living on my own I would have been surviving on fruit and veg for a year, as I had no idea how to gut a fish or skin a chicken.

The girls have also taught me how to make chapattis and other traditional Tanzanian dishes.

I hadn't thought about how I would wash my clothes for example. I didn't think they would have washing machines, but I hadn't really thought it through. So every Sunday I fill my basin up with water, some soap and get scrubbing. The family laugh at my attempts, it must be obvious I'm not used to such hard work.

This Sunday was Claire's 10th birthday party so I got to join in the celebrations. She had about 20 of her friends around at the house, all of whom were dressed immaculately in beautiful dresses and suits.

There weren't any expensive presents or entertainment like you'd get back home but the kids seemed to have just as good a time. I taught them how to play pin the tail on the donkey, although we replaced a donkey with a zebra, and I baked Claire a birthday banana cake.

People open their homes to visitors anytime of the day too. Often when I return home the living room will be full of the neighbors. Anyone is welcome to stay, even if a bed is not available, they just share one.

I really am glad I decided to live with a family here. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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