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I cried but I no longer cry

13 Sep

A really nice story from a traveller in Ethiopia:

People ask me how to prepare for Africa

22 Apr

When I say Africa Stay, I dont mean your 2-week Safari. I dont mean an Expatriate, who is coming to work on a Western Salary. This article is meant for young people, who prepare for a 2-12 month stay in Africa (preferably Uganda 😉 ), for volunteering or internship purpose. People who want to get involved with local people and experience Africa outside 5-star hotels and tour cars.

What to pack in my suitcase….

Sure, the main question is: What should I bring from home and what can I buy when I am there? Most capital cities have huge supermarkets with all that can be bought in Europe. Should I bring…

…Shampoo, Contact Lense Liquid, Sunscreen? – You get those but they are quite expensive. (For ladies: Just bring the Tampons, they can be hard to find)

…Washing powder, Soap, Body Lotion, Toilet Paper? – Is this a serious question?? This is Africa, not the moon.

…Mosquito net, water purifying tablets? – Definitely you should use them, but you can buy those items cheaper here than in most Western countries

… my towel, sleeping bag, bedsheets? – That one really depends on your personality. The degree of homesickness and fear of insects varies between individuals. If it will make you feel more safe, clean or comfortable, bring it. But just know that Africa is much cleaner, than you might expect!

… my laptop, my expensive phone and camera? – Depends on where you are going. There are very safe countries. Just know one thing: YOU ARE WHITE! You will stick out and attract attention (of good and bad people). If you wave around your phone and camera all the time, you might “lose” them. A laptop will most definitely be helpful for your work and also leisure time (watch movies, write a jounal, write your blog and email offline and then take the files to an internet cafe on a flash disc). If you dont want to use your iPhone, you can always by a cheap, internet enabled phone for around

… travellers cheques? – I have really not seen travellers cheques anywhere here. Just bring Euro OR Dollar (depending where you come from) and your credit card / Maestro card. ATMs are everywhere in larger cities!

A last word about the size of your suitcase: Bring just as much luggage as you can handle yourself. 40 kg might just be a bit to much. There are very many clothes markets in Africa, cheap and nice second hand dresses, jeans and tops. Aquire shoes that fit the local roads and fashion cheaply just in a few hours.

You will have the best experience in Africa, when you come with the mindset of getting to know the local lifestyle.

What preventive health measures should I take?

This is my personal experience and does not replace your own judgement or consultation of a doctor.

Of course you will be advised by your doctor to carry 5 kg of medication and take malaria prophylaxis through out your stay. The truth is that in capital cities all medication is available – probably cheaper than at home. What you should do is take the necessary vaccinations, check your guidebook to see what is advised. Yellow fever, Tetanus/Diphteria, Measles, Polio, Hepatitis A and B should be included in the list of vaccinations you take (if you never have).

Personally I have not taken Malaria Prophylaxis in the last 2 years and have NOT contracted Malaria. I sleep under a mosquito net and wear long trousers in the evenings. In case I get a temperature, I immediately go for a malaria test (2-5 Euros).

Also check your health insurerer’s policies whether they will cover you for a long-term stay abroad.

What can I read to prepare better?

You could prepare historic knowledge, learn some basic language skills. Look up music on YouTube and watch clips of top local comedians. I also think hearing experiences of other travellers will help you to integrate better. Look out for blogs of other internationals, but dont overprepare or overanalyse. Every persons view is different. I promise you that you will still make your own mistakes, get a serious culture shock and step on peoples feet (culturally I mean). It is good to read about intercultural competence and some of the theory behind cultures (Hofstede)

On historic and social knowledge: There are many books written by Africans, which I would probably prefer to those written by foreigners. Also national newspapers can be read online or news clips watched on youtube. Get a feel of what moves people in the country you are going to!

Enjoy yourself. Enjoy Africa. Your time is limited anyways!

Trip to Masaka

29 Jan

One of my team members invited us for a weekend to his mum’s farm near Masaka.

We had an awesome time and a great introduction to the Baganda Culture. Thank you Matthew!!!

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Another crazy trip! Christmas in Germany

22 Dec

Christmas in Germany starts usually latest in October, when the first sweets are being sold in the shops. Also latest in November it is sooo cold, that obviously you start looking for candles, woolen hats and hot tea.

Now for me this time round it was a bit different. I have hot tea every morning for breakfast (not only but also to prepare for the cold shower), candles at least two nights per week since July (no, the power cuts have not decreased). And it took until early December for me to eat the first Christmas sweets at a friend’s place (who had Swiss friends visiting him).

In the house we planned a christmas party for the 18th December. The interns prepared Food and songs from Australia, Brazil, China, Taiwan, France, Denmark and the Netherlands. Guacamole, Heineken and barbecue for Christmas 
Of course we had to “Wichtel”. We exchanged gifts and it was a pretty awesome afternoon and would have been a really great evening, but Jimmy and I had to run of early to catch out bus to Nairobi.

It was my first bus ride during the day to Nairobi, so I finally saw the River Nile near Jinja. The bus broke down (did you really expect something else?), so we had 5 extra hours until Nairobi not only to sleep but also to talk about 2010 and the work and make plans for the holidays.

During the day I passed Upendo Rescue Center, the school looked great! They had cemented the ground around the entrance, which was usually so muddy. I was also happy to hear about the food contributions from local companies. The now new class-8 students told me about their plans of going to secondary school and maybe even university! A big dream for them, regarding the school fees that secondary schools charge.

I spent the evening at the university with AIESECers from Kenya and we shared about what had happened in the last weeks and months. The mood was relaxed and holidays in the air!

Then 20 minutes before I left to the airport we heard the ugly news: In the City Center 4 unknown had thrown grenades at a Kampala Coach bus that was leaving Nairobi towards Kampala. 1 dead, over 20 sincerely injured.
Al-Shabab does really not support Museveni’s opinion and Uganda’s involvement in Somalia and takes the upcoming elections to spread horror and unsecurity through more terrorism.

I arrived at the airport at midnight, checked in at 4am and the plane took off at 8am. Completely sleep-deprived I am now able to sleep 2 hours intervals on any floor of this world (check out my stories from Tanzania 😉

In Istanbul the screen at the transit desk read “Frankfurt – cancelled”. But Turkish Airlines had a really nice Plan B and booked all 3 Frankfurt flights of that day into one plane. We were only 1 bus full geting on a plane for over 300 passengers. There was one black guy, he had a strange accent, somehow I put him o be a Nigerian. When I searched  my place, I realized, that my seat was right next to him. I smiled (within) and sat down without much talking.

When the Steward came to ask for his boarding pass (and noone else on he flight had to show his again) I was really annoyed and mentioned to my neighbour that for white people there still seem to be different rules. He laughed and we started talking. Imagine, how I starred at him when he mentioned he left Entebbe in the morning. A freaking Ugandan, had studied at Makerere, was on his first flight ever to Europe and sat next to ME. It was just a funny coincidence and we chatted for the next two hours. At least we got two plates of chicken, when he asked the Stewardess for it. For black people there are other rules 😉

So here I am in Frankfurt at the airport. My parents are somewhere to pick me up. Christmas I am coming!

Home again. But now what does home mean?

14 Aug

Because of complications with my visa application for India I had to come back from Kampala to Nairobi. The Indian High Commission sent me “home”. Officially stated, Kenya is my residence, Uganda not. Now what does that mean.

What do I write on my facebook status when getting on the bus? “am coming home!” clearly everybody would think I mean our house in Banda. In swa it is simple, “nakuja nyumbani”, my friends in nairobi would be excited. But does that make sense, if all my belongings are in my cute little room in kampala with Eva and Prima?
Home is where you feel home, a wise person told me. Where your friends are. So does that make facebook my home? Often enough it brings the world to your small little mobile phone screen and you laugh in realtime with friends, that are physically far away. And the first word after login also says “Home”. So clearly, all that is needed now, is the “apply visa” button!

Nice day everyone, wherever your home is.


25 Apr

Fiona and I were travelling by Bus from Nairobi to Dar es Salaam for a very simple 3 day meeting. Ideally a 15 hour trip in a single bus. Lets see, what Facebook says about this trip…

Manuela Müller Roadtrip has started. watch this space!

Alh saa 8:03 asubuhi kupitia Mtandao wa Rununu  · Toa maoni · Imenipendeza
Fleur Lys Sego amependezwa nayo.
Manuela Müller woke up at 5.20 in MC. bought dar xp tickets 4 me n fi at 5.55
Alh saa 8:08 asubuhi ·
Manuela Müller Bus left at 6.25 without us
Alh saa 8:09 asubuhi ·
Manuela Müller Hunting the bus via taxi
Alh saa 8:13 asubuhi ·
Manuela Müller stupid tz bus conductor refuses to stop. we pass nyayo stadium. we pass the airport.
Alh saa 8:25 asubuhi ·
Fleur Lys Sego Hehe bus hunting sounds fun 🙂
Alh saa 8:27 asubuhi ·
Manuela Müller The luo mama who is with us is in constant communication with her friend in the bus. The whole bus crew are *ss*oles, refuse to stop or slow down
Alh saa 8:39 asubuhi ·
Manuela Müller In kitengela the taxi drivers license expires and our money… Whats next?
Alh saa 8:41 asubuhi ·
Charles Nkonge Gitonga hehehe fuuun!!!!
Alh saa 9:02 asubuhi ·
Bakari Mhando Am waiting for season 2,its very nice comedy series.
Alh saa 9:23 asubuhi ·
Manuela Müller Just before namanga, now in a bus. These guys are like 30 minutes ahead.:) guy, hope they r held up at the border! Not enough money for the visa. MCP training is on point…
Alh saa 9:40 asubuhi ·
Cathy Mwangi Walala then what??
Alh saa 9:41 asubuhi ·
Charles Nkonge Gitonga tel the luo mama tu tel the woman in the bus to delay…inbox me ua no. i mpesa smthng…..
Alh saa 9:42 asubuhi ·
Caroline Ngugi Oh…my am so sorry for u two gals….hope u catch up with the bus xoxo:-)
Alh saa 10:28 asubuhi ·
Kelvyne Slevinovic John hahahahaha!!!!!!…..i’m wondering why fiona is quiet!!!…ahahahahaha…..u guys need to open a blog!…warrrrrrrrr!!!!!!…….am biting my nails!!!!…hahahhaha
Alh saa 10:30 asubuhi ·
Manuela Müller Officially left kenya. As officially as the bus left without us. Now we need your help. Arusha to dar how??
Alh saa 10:37 asubuhi ·
Kelvyne Slevinovic John Bakari is your man!!!!……
Alh saa 10:40 asubuhi ·
Caroline Ngugi Manu…there are two options…call SOS Bakari will answer u….and help….AI can send a chopper as plan B….just ask Cindy:-)
Alh saa 10:41 asubuhi ·
Rose Thuo this story is more captivating than 24 and Lost and kidnapped put together!wish you two girls the best.
Alh saa 10:53 asubuhi ·
Manuela Müller Awesome. Now we are between the countries, the other bus is leaving us soon. My visa card haifanyi kazi. And the visa still wants to be paid. Mpesa anything you have to my zain line. We need 2k
Alh saa 11:04 asubuhi ·
Alh saa 11:08 asubuhi ·
Manuela Müller By the way, if it wasnt for there freaky police man, i wudnt have attempted to get the exit stamp.
Alh saa 11:08 asubuhi ·
Amos Mtaita HOW DO I REACH YOU!!!
Alh saa 11:08 asubuhi ·
Caroline Ngugi @Amos…call Manu on her Zain
@Manu tell Fi to switch to her Safaricom…ASAP:-)
Alh saa 11:10 asubuhi ·
Amos Mtaita i dont have her number…
Alh saa 11:12 asubuhi ·
Amos Mtaita carol…send it to me…
Alh saa 11:13 asubuhi ·
Manuela Müller While waiting for mpesa (thanks ppl and hurry up) looking at tour busses and lorries that look trustworthy and inviting…
Alh saa 11:32 asubuhi ·
Razvan Dragu It is time to chill…buy a bottle of Konyagy and enjoy the road. Your road trip is funny like a movie ” Manu and Fi – tripping to Dar”
Alh saa 11:46 asubuhi ·
Caroline Ngugi All the best guys…let us know what happens:-)
@Mtaita the ball is on ur court…takea of them:-)
Alh saa 11:58 asubuhi ·
Martha Diana This is funny and fun at the same time! Have maaad fuuuun!
Alh saa 12:44 mchana/ jioni ·
Manuela Müller Visa bought now. Thanks to you our dear readers! mpesa, juu. Zap… Downest:( Green truck with license plate t945bcu takes us to arusha now. Lets see what happens next:-)
Alh saa 12:57 mchana/ jioni ·
Manuela Müller Thanks for the konyagi tip. After a sip of that guys sachet was told to maliza… Anyways, fi and manu on the bed behind the truck driver. Bumpy! And slow… Worst: no camera:-(
Alh saa 1:17 mchana/ jioni ·
Razvan Dragu this is any truck driver’s best fantasy…milk and choclate on the bed behind him…bumpyyyy
Alh saa 1:27 mchana/ jioni ·
Caroline Ngugi Manu…hold on strong…u will arrive safely….MCP transition just begun…Fi’s phone has a camera u can take a pic to share later:-)
Alh saa 1:32 mchana/ jioni ·
Bakari Mhando Welcome to Tz thats what i do always when i’m late n broke,usijali u’l get here in 1 pc,if u cnt get transpt 4m arusha go up to moshi then to Himo u’l get smthng to tak u here,u r on my s camera relax galz n enjoy d xp.:-)
Alh saa 2:15 mchana/ jioni ·
Joel Rao walalalala this is awesome!! am like 6 hrs behind
Alh saa 6:09 mchana/ jioni ·
Manuela Müller ok. how it continued… the truck trip took long, but was fun. loooots of police stops but we arrived in Arusha. Then we took a bus to Moshi. A really cool friend of Beko hosted us. Moshi is awesome! clean water, awesome food, nice mud in the morning.
Iju saa 4:28 mchana/ jioni ·
Manuela Müller not to forget the preacher that told me and Fiona to shut up while he is praying. Nice story he had… Once they told him to get out of the bus in Nakuru, it had an accident and the passengers died…
Iju saa 5:04 mchana/ jioni ·
Manuela Müller then another 8 hours in another bus from moshi to dar. TUMEFIKA!!!! in the MC house with Cindy and Amos and Tate now. COOL ;)))
Iju saa 5:04 mchana/ jioni ·
Manuela Müller End of story! Thanks for your attention
Iju saa 5:05 mchana/ jioni ·
Bakari Mhando Y r u nt mentioning casts of d movie?if its d end of story?u can sleep on my bed.
Iju saa 5:43 mchana/ jioni ·
Aderemi Dadepo guess part 2 would be when u going back 😐
d suspense was fun and a repeat won’t be a bad idea 😉
Iju saa 10:23 mchana/ jioni ·
Manuela Müller inshallah no season 2!!!
kama saa moja iliyopita ·

My trip to AfroXLDS 2010 in Togo!!

5 Apr

AfroXLDS 2010 (Africa eXchange and Leadership Development Seminar) was a 6 day conference in Palime, the Facilitator team also had 3 days of premeeting and 2 days of postmeeting in Lome. We had around 100 delegates from countries like Gabon, Cameroon, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Senegal. Then we had one lady from Kenya and some Brazil, Canadian, German and Japanese visitors.

We started off with a Community day in Lome were we learned from an NGO that deals with spreading the gospel of solar cookers in Togo. After an evening with lots of get-to-knows we had our final preparations for the conference. The Opening Ceremony was graced by a government official, after which we held a podium discussion regarding the Millenium Development Goals. In the afternoon we went to the University of Lome and held our colorful global village and impressed hundreds of university students with our diversity. The next 5 days were spent well in a nice hotel in Palime (yeeees, I am used to not having water and electricity by  now, but in over 30 degrees this reaches new dimensions of being annoyed). Part of the delegation discussed the strategic direction of our countries in Africa, the other half indulged in personal discovery, leadership discussions and practical experience of team work. Together we evaluated the Projects that are run and learned how to be as fast, savvy, smart, strong and sexy as possible in our work (see AIESEC Gen 2010). As always, fun and networking  are integral part of any AIESEC event!

I returned from my Togo trip with around 2,000 pictures and videos. This is just a small selection, but gives a good idea of what we did in the 10 days.

West Africa?? Hot, French vs. English, definitely worth another visit!

Thanks to everybody who contributed financially to making this trip happen!