Summer Trip Highlights

“I am inspired by the Tanzanian students, they are really keen to share their knowledge and wisdom with me. One has taught me about keeping a “CV of failures” in which you explore why you failed in situations so you can really understand yourself and improve.” – Samad, Volunteer on the Engineering Project

“It has been an amazing time and I learnt so much. My favourite part has been bonding with the Tanzanian volunteers and also getting closer to the UK volunteers. Highlights include chicken chasing! Over the weeks I’ve learnt skills like pitching, writing press releases, attending meetings with important stakeholders, teaching and leading workshops – it’s been a learning curve!’ – Imani, Volunteer on the Education Project

Chicken chasing!

Chicken chasing!

“I’ve loved walking round Vingunguti and seeing the research in real life!” – Nat, Volunteer on the Health Project 

Slack for iOS Upload

My drawing of Vingunguti

“Visiting an informal settlement with the aspiring entrepreneurs of the DAREnterprisers Training Programme yielded a memorable realisation. As I observed the students performing interviews, I recognised that empathising with local communities is the most powerful step in Human-Centered Design.” – Christina, volunteer on the Entrepreneurship Project


DAREnterprisers students conducting market research

“The best thing about this trip for me has been the camaraderie within the team and how we’ve overcomed all the challenges together!” – Izhan, Volunteer on the Engineering Project

Assembling the Evapodryer

Assembling the Evapodryer

“I’ve enjoyed seeing the students grow in confidence and take ownership over the problems that affect them in their schools.’ Also  it’s great to see so many talented volleyball players emerge from the CDI team.” – Ollie, Volunteer on the Education Project

IMG_2763 (2)

Students presenting their ideas in schools

“I really enjoyed working with the Tanzanian students on our branding for our project and coming up with a great name and logo. Then getting to see these printed on our T-Shirts’ – Samantha, Volunteer on the Health Project

Our t-shirts arrived, yay!

“The highlight of my trip has been the commitment and enthusiasm of everyone involved in CDI. From the students I facilitate as part of the Entrepreneurship Programme, to the President of CDI, everyone has a sense of purpose, which is both heartening and inspiring” – Connor, Volunteer on the Entrepreneurship Project

“With each passing day I believe in the project more and more – I’ve just finished going through the responses to a survey we ran, the community is so enthusiastic about the project it’s incredible to be a part of it.” – Will, Volunteer on the Engineering Project

Interviewing Mr Hamza for an engineering case study

Interviewing Mr Hamza for an engineering case study

“My highlight was visiting a large manufacturing company and seeing exactly how toothbrushes are made” – Pierre, Volunteer on the Entrepreneurship Project  

“Thirty-one motivated students, intense team work and unbreakable concentration, loud laughing and excited sweet chasing, happy smiles and passionate ideas… best way to start the Think Big Challenge workshop series” – François, Volunteer on the Education Project

“Seeing the kids speak at the launch and be interviewed by the BBC was really exciting for me as it validated all the hard work the team had put in”– Arun, Education Project Director

Students at the Think Big Challenge Launch

Students at the Think Big Challenge Launch

Team Health: A Day in the Life

Its day two under new leadership and possibly one of the busiest days for the health team. The following timeline recounts the day’s events, with approximate timings.

It’s worth briefly mentioning the three things that were schedule for that day:

  1. Health Ambassador Product training from a charity called WAHECO. These are the ambassadors from the engineering’s network who we are bringing into Afya Yetu alongside the community health workers. This is followed by some video training on key diseases.
  2. Children’s hand washing sessions, joint with engineering, teaching around 100 children how to wash their hands effectively. This is run by a charity TAI.
  3. Community interviews to be done by our Tanzanian volunteers, to get opinions on Afya Yetu.

7:30 am. Team emerge to catch the Dalla Dalla into Vingunguti via some morning Chapatis  (or in Jack’s case, 3 chapatis and 5 mandazi [giant dough balls], it’s a big day).

8:30 am. Arrival in Vingunguti, make it safely across the main road and head to ‘base 2’ aka the café.

8:45 am. Talk through the day. Plastic cups, condoms, sanitary pads and water are distributed to the right people as samples for the product training.

9:00 am. Jack has to print off more interview sheets as Natalie has forgotten to pick them up from her desk.

9:15 am. Nat and Sam go to the premises. Sam goes on to meet John from engineering  to wait for TAI (who are running the children’s day) and sort out the location whilst Natalie waits for Juhudi from WAHECO (who are running the product training). John also goes to confirm the training with the health ambassadors.

9:30 am. John returns with the news that one of the health ambassadors has ‘gone away, may be back in a few weeks’. This is particularly bad news after hearing earlier in the week that none of the 8 community health workers could make the training either.

9:52 am. The Health ambassadors turn up to be trained, albeit in the wrong place. They are relocated to the right place. Somehow there are three of them after all which is a bonus! Meanwhile Natalie is still waiting for Juhudi, accompanied now by the local children, three of which are called Nadia.

9:56 am. Still no Juhudi, begin to search for her number to call.

10:12 am. Juhudi is “20 mins away’”  The Health ambassadors are waiting in our premises.

10:20 am. Sam returns to the premises to drop the sample soap off (as we forgot earlier).

10:21 am. John arrives to show the Tanzanian students to the community interviews, however, they couldn’t leave until the training started so this was postponed until later in the day or next week.

10:40 am. Natalie leaves with Sam to go and meet the children to walk them over to the premises, leaving the Tanzanian students at the premises to greet Juhudi.

Walking the children to the hand-washing session.

Walking the children to the hand-washing session.

10:45 am. Jack has finished printing and takes over from Natalie to wait for Juhudi.

11.17 am. Decide to go ahead with the community interviews.

11.34 am. Juhudi arrives and training begins.

11:40 am. The children’s handwashing session is going well with the Tanzanian volunteers leading parts of the session and the children responding really positively. There is lots of singing and each child demonstrates and practises how to wash their hands.


12.47 am. The training was a big success and is coming to an end.

1:20 pm. The handwashing finished (only an hour late). Natalie and Sam head back to the café for lunch.

1:30 pm. The training actually finishes.

2:01 pm. The two groups head to the café for lunch.

2:02 pm. The café doesn’t do lunch on a Sunday.

2:05 pm. Food is outsourced and brought back to the café.

2:10 pm. Other people’s food turns up at the cafe, we may have misunderstood.

2:20 pm. Sam goes to get set up for the afternoon’s video training session.

2:45 pm.  No sign of the trainees. Natalie and Carol go to find them and bring them back to the premises.

3:05 pm. The video session can start. The others wait in the café

4:07 pm. ‘Two videos to go’

4:25 pm. Bets are placed on the finishing time of the session with the optimistic (Natalie) going for 4:39 pm and the pessimistic (Jack) going for 4:45pm.

4:39 pm. Natalie accepts defeat.

4:45 pm. The bets are abandoned.


4:46 pm. The playing cards come out.

5:00 pm. We begin to wonder what Fran’s contribution to the day has been, aside from keeping the chair warm in the Café.

5:05 pm. The videos finish and all that’s left to do is gather the contact details from the Health Ambassadors.

5:15 pm. We clamber into a Bajaji with some jack fruit (which, having never tried it before, caused much amusement among the locals as they had to show us how to eat it).

6:00 pm Arrive back at Ardhi with just enough light left to do some exercise on the field, with a few Tanzanian spectators and a lot of groaning.

Written by Natalie Fisk, Volunteer on the Health Project.

DAREnterprisers Women’s Empowerment Workshop

As part of our DAREnterprisers course, we believe it is incredibly important to recognise problems women face in the world of business. Instead of running this workshop just with our DAREnterprisers students, we chose to open it up to CDI volunteers from across the projects as well as female staff at the University of Dar es Salaam. This meant the session became a space for women from different backgrounds and ages, creating an atmosphere where people could share their experiences as well as learn from others.

The session was designed to be an interactive one, with activities everyone could get involved with. We began the session with each person designing a flag that represented themselves. The variety of things included on the flags allowed people to celebrate how every woman is unique and capable of achieving many things.

Our speakers at the event, Lillian Madeje and Blandina Sembu gave insight into their experiences as women in businesses and the media. Lillian, who has set up a consultancy company, focussed on the more entrepreneurial aspect, speaking of barriers faced by women in the world of business. Blandina, the presenter of Arida la Wanawake or Women’s Journal on ITV described how she achieved her personal goals of journalism, and how she dealt with barriers to do with disabilities and being a woman. These inspiring speakers displayed what women can achieve, however they both realised the barriers faced.

Towards the end of the session groups of mixed DAREnterprisers participants, CDI volunteers and UDSM staff were given topics and questions to consider. We discussed our favourite attributes about ourselves, problems faced being a woman and how we can react to these problems, attempting to solve them. This was a really interesting part of the session as it created a space for people to share things that they may not normally have a platform to do so.

Written by Phoebe Rimmer, Volunteer on the Entrepreneurship Project.

Canteen Chaos

Our week got off to a productive start with the education team embracing the local culture – taking a day off in recognition of the national public holiday ‘Nane Nane’ (Farmers’ Day). After a “well-deserved” rest, the team split into two: one going to the schools to learn more about the problems students are facing, and the other exploring opportunities to expand the reach of the Think Big Challenge through collaboration with BRAC, the largest NGO in the world. Following our meeting with BRAC, the education team were happy to welcome a select number of girls not in formal education to participate in our competition.

Mid-week, the planning for the upcoming Saturday workshop was underway. Organising 4 hours worth of activities for 50 participants (around 35 students and 15 girls from BRAC) was no mean feet. Despite the occasional power-cut causing the team to go on a quest for a working plug socket, the workshop was ready. Students arrived on Saturday eager to take on the problems they faced at school. After 2 problem-solving-filled hours, stomachs were rumbling and the biggest pot of wali maharage I’ve ever seen was ready to be devoured (wali maharage = the local delicacy – beans and rice). Students were fuelled up and ready to design their solutions to problems ranging from gender and religious segregation, to drug abuse. Back in their schools and communities, the participants will take the first steps in carrying out their plan for implementing initiatives.


The “multi-purpose” canteen

Back at Ardhi University, CDI’s home in Dar es Salaam, the education team crashed at the ‘multi-purpose’ canteen after a hard day’s work. At different points of the day, the canteen (pictured left) transforms from its standard dining area into a ready-made office space lined with laptops and multiple four-way plugs all plugged into one power socket (no blowing of the fuse … yet). The CDI family are not, however, the only residents of the canteen. Malcolm, Backspace and her three illegitimate children (Undo, Undid, and Undone), and the infamous Cliveisha roam the canteen, providing endless entertainment and drama for the volunteers. To clarify, these are residents of the feline variety. Malcolm can often be seen owning his rightful place as king of the canteen, looking as gorgeous as ever (pictured below). The real drama happens at night when Cliveisha frequently plots a takeover of the canteen. Fear not – Backspace with a strong right paw never fails to redress the balance … but I digress.

Cliveisha the cat

Cliveisha the cat

The week ended with an impressive performance from the education team in CDI’s very own Olympics. The Olympic spirit was definitely present with team Kundunchi displaying over-enthusiastic hand slapping and encouragement across multiple events. The education team had a successful games, coming away with a medal tally of 2 golds, 2 silvers and a bronze. Training for the next Olympics is underway …

CDI Olympics!

CDI Olympics!

Written by Ollie Preston – Volunteer on the Education Project.

The Volleyball Match

The Health Team faced the match of their lives. A match that would determine whether Afya Yetu, their project for the summer, could be implemented or not. PSI, Afya Yetu’s main product supplier were only willing to negotiate product orders when the Health Team convincingly won all five sets. The health of the population of Vingunguti was at stake.

But their opposition, various governing authorities with the power to grant business licenses stood in the way. We weren’t willing to step aside. It was time for the Health Team to dig, set and slam their way to a win.

The first set was against the TIN (Tax Identification Number). Some strong rallies ensued, but we clearly maintained control until we came through with a win (25-10 if you want to know the score). However, we were well aware that the TIN weren’t our strongest opposition as they were never going to put up much of a fight.

The second opponent we faced was the VAT (Value-Added Tax). However, we weren’t allowed to step onto the court until we had proof that we had paid our taxes. And unfortunately, as we were in the process of doing so, the set had to be postponed until we proved our eligibility to play.

The Business License stepped onto the court for set three. They promptly handed us some forms to fill out before leaving the court again. Again, we needed to sort out some paperwork before they were willing to play some ball, the second of three sets delayed. We had known the match was going to experience some interruptions, so we continued on, keeping morale high.

By this point, we were desperately keen to get back on the court and play a set. TFDA (Tanzanian Food and Drug Authority) provided a good opportunity for us to do so, our fourth opponent. Rhys and Ocheck, our key play makers moved to the front. Before we had a chance to rally for serve however, the TFDA declared they were the ‘wrong team’ for us to play as they were the central team, and we needed the zonal TFDA team. A quick team change followed and we were ready to play again.

The first few rallies were contested evenly by both teams, until the TFDA managed a lovely set and smash combination, with the ball flying into our half of the court. Unfortunately, Rhys’ stomach was on the receiving end of the ball, knocking the wind out of him. The TFDA were unable to fit our model into their existing models for licenses and consequently, we would need to register as a pharmacy. This would require the renovation of our current premises to fit the physical requirements of a pharmacy, which would be both expensive and likely delay the business opening. We took a time-out for Rhys to recover, and to change our game plan. We drew out some alternatives to the renovation plan the TFDA had provided us with, alternatives that would meet the TFDA’s pharmacy requirements, but that would require fewer physical alterations to the premises.

Before re-entering the court, we wanted to get some advice from the central TFDA office, the team we were to originally play. After looking into our case further, they began to question whether our set with the zonal TFDA office should have been played at all as they concluded that we didn’t need a TFDA license.

We then approached the TFDA zonal office with many questions as to why they stepped onto the court in the first place. We knew it wasn’t a good sign when each of the six team members gave a different response, and left the court more confused than when we began.

Our prearranged set five against the Pharmacy Council was placed on hold when their team didn’t show – we instead gave their representative a letter asking for a match in the next week. We finished the match having won one set out of the five (TIN), one set suspended mid-set (TFDA), and with three sets delayed (VAT, Business License and Pharmacy Council).

After an intensive team chat, we decided that we would not pursue a rematch with the TFDA as we believed we did not need a TFDA license. However, our relationship with PSI was dependent on us winning all five sets, including the set against the TFDA, which would ultimately provide us with all the licenses we needed to operate.

With the results from our volleyball match in our pockets, we approached the PSI offices with trepidation, uncertain as to whether they would pursue a partnership with Afya Yetu without the TFDA license. We were greeted by a big grin, courtesy of Mzee, our contact at PSI, and all began to relax a little.

The meeting began with a rather significant backward step in that we discovered that our community health workers would be unable to sell the oral contraceptive pill and delivery kits for Afya Yetu as they need to be prescribed by a pharmacist. However, our mood was quickly turned around when we discovered that this meant that we no longer required the TFDA and Pharmacy Council licenses. Although our current product portfolio had been reduced, we left with the knowledge that PSI were both keen to work with us and happy to allow us to order the remaining products when we wanted to.

We continue to pursue rematches with the VAT and Business License. Our prospects are looking strong as we look forward to getting all the licenses required for the opening of Afya Yetu.

In other news; the health team also continues to dominate CDI-wide volleyball. Natalie is learning to not close her eyes when the ball comes to her, Sam can now dig the ball towards the net instead of outside the court, Fran has begun to understand that you can play volleyball tactfully instead of using brute violence, Jack continues to up his sledging game and Rhys is slowly but surely becoming a little less competitive, which everyone appreciates.

The Launch of the Think Big Challenge!

On Monday of Week 2 we decided it would be a brilliant idea to hold a formal launch for our Think Big Challenge. This meant for a busy week ahead, but it all paid off and the event was a major success.

The week was spent selecting the winning entrants, printing personalised certificates and t-shirts for them to wear to the workshops at Ardhi, securing sponsorship, and finding and decorating the venue. We sent out invitations to teachers and were honoured when Professor Yunus Mgaya PhD accepted our invitation to speak as guest of honour at the event. We travelled around Dar informing the press, including the BBC and The Guardian Tanzania, about our launch and representatives of both companies attended the launch. The Guardian even published an article about it! (read the article here


The Guardian’s report on our Think Big Challenge Initiative.

The launch was filled with inspiring speeches – from Matt Hopgood, president of CDI, who spoke about CDI’s ethos, and Madam Chanafi, headmistress of Salma Kikwete who explained the legacy of CDI in her school, to Professor Mosha, a representative for the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Ardhi University, and our guest of honour Professor Mgaya who detailed his work in the global community. Highlights of the event included Arun’s impressive Swahili speech, and having representative students from each of the schools give short speeches on what the Think Big Challenge means to them.

Project Directors Arun and Ade with a representative from BRAC, the world's largest NGO.

Project Directors Arun and Ade with a representative from BRAC, the world’s largest NGO.

The speeches were truly inspiring. Some of our favourite words from the High Table members included:

“Our leading philosophy is that changing the world begins with local change makers, empowered with the skills and knowledge to make sustainable differences. We believe students can be catalysts for this change. The spirit of CDI is innovation and creativity. Try something new, pushing the boundaries in striving for sustainable. These values are reflected in our Think Big Challenge. We believe that through determination, teamwork and a spark of inspiration, every student in this room can be a change maker in their school. Creativity has no boundaries on how young or old you are. In fact, young people are often the most creative and imaginative. So I want to encourage you, take the initiative, support your team-members, and you really will be the ones to improve your school.” — Matt Hopgood, CDI President

Matt Hopgood, President of CDI gives a speech at the launch

Matt Hopgood, President of CDI gives a speech at the launch.

“Thinking Big’ usually comes for those who are older. But now I see a reverse. I see young people here, from all corners of the world, who want to think big and solve immediate problems. Is that not already a success?” — Professor Mosha, on behalf of Ardhi University

“We realized that most of our learners in Tanzania, not only at the secondary level but at universities and colleges, are lacking the initial skills needed to sustain their lives… We might get out of the education system with a lot of theories but we fail when it comes to putting those theories into practice…On behalf of my fellow heads of schools, may I thank CDI for opening our eyes. Their coming helped us to see the big picture of what we are doing in schools.” — Madame Chanafi, Head of Salma Kikwete School

The selected students take to the stage.

The selected students take to the stage.

“To quote Gandhi, why don’t you be the change you wish to see in the world? No one is going to do it for you. You cannot just sit back and hope that everything is going to be ok. It all begins with you boys and girls. Whatever you do to improve the quality of life in your community, no matter how small, makes a huge difference and it goes a long way…You don’t have to be a billionaire. There’s so much you can do at your age. You can organise and clean your streets, you can visit orphans and the sick, give them food clothes or just the simple joy of your company.” — Professor Mgaya, Guest of Honour

“The youth of today want to take control of their own lives as much as they can. Career development does not start at university level or graduate level. It starts when young people still have room to be whoever they wish to be. The result of these young people participating in the Think Big Challenge is not the prize they will receive at the end of the competition, but the impact it will have upon their lives. The experiences they will have during these two months will be experiences that most people don’t have until they are 40 or 50, and will contribute hugely to their career development.” — Ocheck Msuva, Founder of Bridge For Change

Our first workshop at Ardhi with the students.

Our first workshop at Ardhi with the students.

After the launch we hosted the first workshop with the students, and treated the teachers who had attended to a lovely lunch at one of our partners’ restaurants. The workshop went smoothly and the students looked brilliant in their personalised t-shirts. The lunch with the teachers was a lovely end to a productive morning, and a brilliant time to get to know them personally and build on our relationship with them. Overall, it was a wonderful end to Week 2!

High Table guests with the selected students.

High Table guests with the selected students.

Lunch with the teachers after the launch.

Lunch with the teachers after the launch.

Written by Imani Jeffers, Volunteer on the Education Project.

An Engineering #ThrowbackThursday

Simplified sewerage construction has started in Vingunguti today! Expect another blog post soon. Brings me back to the same day on the project last year, before I was project director. These days I just sit around in the café sipping on Coca Cola and munching on chapatis, but those days I did actual work (or so I have convinced myself). This blog post is one from the vaults, never read before, an exclusive and unadulterated view into the life of CDI Engineering 2015.

Written on August 5th, 2015:

Following weeks of tedious materials sourcing, careful physical surveying, and generally important decision making, route planning, and community mobilization, the pick axes are in the ground in Vingunguti! The engineering team couldn’t be happier. Or sweatier. Some of us struggle a bit in the heat.

tristan blog 1

We all coped in different ways.

It only took a couple awkward swings for us Cambridge students to show our utter incompetence with wielding anything other than a pen or calculator. A brief lesson from the Ardhi students on the basic use of shovels, hoes, and pick axes ensued. The ground in some areas was surprisingly unyielding – direct strikes with the point of the pick axe could only dislodge a handful of earth at a time.

Don’t let his confident facial expression fool you; Matt is about to find out that he has no clue what he’s doing.

Don’t let his confident facial expression fool you; Matt is about to find out that he has no clue what he’s doing.

Sunday saw the arrival of materials – the Ardhi students expertly oversaw their distribution to all the houses on the network. The rest of the materials arrived on Monday – their efficient distribution was again a gargantuan task. Two and a half tonnes of cement is certainly not a negligible quantity, especially when everything is carried by hand. Neither is 1000 buckets of sand, 175 buckets of aggregate, or 1000 concrete blocks. Matt and I had a vague attempt at carrying a 50 kg bag of cement on our heads – turns out we’re not very competent at that either. But the real highlight of Monday was the pipe delivery. Never have I been so excited to see 390 metres of piping. They radiated with new, blue uPVC plastic exuberance, a seeming reflection of our own glowing spirits. Their full 6 metre length lay stoic in the back of the truck, a testament to our unwavering quest for free materials. Yes, our endless dalla dalla and bajaji rides had paid off. Plasco Ltd’s generous donation of pipes was here.

Rhea’s big blue belled-end pipes.

Rhea’s big blue belled-end pipes.

Monday also saw the arrival of the technicians. We were slightly worried about getting them up to speed with the whole project, but it turns out they know everything about everything, and can do just about anything with blocks and some mortar. Between the four of them, we expect the first five new toilets to be completed by some time tomorrow!

A PPE-ed worker is a happy worker.

A PPE-ed worker is a happy worker.




Basically, this week has shown us that everyone is better than us at everything. All we really need to do is walk around with clipboards and make sure people have everything they need to do everything much more efficiently than we ever could. We’re very optimistic about the next few weeks, stay tuned for more *groundbreaking* news from the engineering team.

Back to the present:

Yes, that blog post never got published last year because I forgot to send it to our publicity person after I wrote it. Yes, it has just been sitting on my hard drive until now, and yes, the fact that I’m reusing material from last year is a reflection of how little work I actually do this year.

The fact that I have so little work to do is a testament to the excellent team I’ve got. Samad, Julianna, Frank, Charmydory, Syed, Mduda, Will, Eunmi, Justus, Isack, Duckie, Izhan, Maisam, and Faustine have been harder working than I ever could have imagined. You guys have driven the project forward to do great things – practically all I do as director is slow you down. John Mullett, our biogas guru, has been invaluable in helping sort out every problem the digester has thrown at us. Finally, John Rutahiwa, my fellow project director, has been CDI’s own Energizer bunny, with an unparalleled work ethic that makes me look like an unmotivated sloth.

Dream team? Check.

Dream team? Check.

Written by Tristan Downing – Engineering Project Director.