Buying a Car in Tanzania, Part 1

I had the privilege to meet a 1995, Mitsubishi Pajero… a picturesque safari cruiser (see image below); but safari will not be the work for this tank, because it has a new special home…hopefully…in the village of Magagura. Once in Magagura (my old village) this beast will serve as a livelihood for Sili, a resource for the community, and a mode of transportation for the East Africa Fund staff. I have named this blog, part 1, because the Pajero still has much terrain to pass; we haven’t even left Dar es Salaam, eek!

So how does buying a car in Tanzania work?

I was fortunate to find a classified posting for this car from diplomats here in Dar – they happen to be some of the most genuine and wonderful people I have had the opportunity to meet in Tanzania. After meeting them and their ‘95 Pajero, I knew it was the car for me and Sili. The process has not been quick or easy, but their support and patience has made it much more bearable!

I gave myself two weeks to complete the process of finding a car and registering it with the Tanzanian Revenue Authority (TRA). We are going strong on week three at this point (slamming hand against head). Mostly due paperwork hold-ups with the TRA office…shocker…I really should know better than to give myself deadlines here.

Some More Luck
Two days after my arbitrary planned date for departure, the car broke down, it wouldn’t start at all. Because we had been delayed, that breakdown fortunately happened in the seller’s front yard and not on the side of an interstate. The mechanic told us the breakdown was immanent and it would have happened; good thing we were two miles from his shop and could easily tow it. Asante mungu (thanking God)…at least someone has a plan here!

Over the last two weeks we have seen five different mechanics and spent countless hours at various shops. What was supposed to be a quick tune-up by a well-respected mechanic, turned into a circle of lies and discoveries. But overall, with humor and hindsight, I wouldn’t change any of it. Being lied to by the first mechanic who agreed to change the oil update all fluids, and fix a starter delay, gave us a huge learning opportunity, mostly for Sili who will quickly become the caregiver of this car. Lesson # 1 for Sili: NEVER TRUST WORDS, only trust your eyes. After learning this lesson, Sili and my drive Simon, spent close to five days sitting in various mechanic shops physically watching as the Pajero was given its needed tune-ups, including: an oil change, radiator flush, temperature gauge repair, fuel pump installation, and tire alignment. Each of these opportunities become a teachable moment for Sili, who enjoyed every second of it! The kid is a natural learner and we was beyond thrilled to spend his afternoons at the car shop, watching, learning, and even lending a hand. Hindsight is 20/20 and I am again thankful for how this has all worked out.

While we did learn the errors of too much trust in the hands of a stranger, I am again reminded through this experience, to trust the process and to trust Tanzanians. When I embarked on this endeavor, I knew that I would never be able to purchase a car on my on in here. The first thing I did was seek out a local advisor who would walk with me, step-by-step, and be my advocate. The man I found, Simon (pictured below), has not let me down. He is intelligent, detailed, humble, and extremely honest. I have put a lot of trust in his hands and he has not failed us. I am thankful that he can be a role model for Sili and he has been a super advocate for me!

I write this blog post as Sili and I sit around waiting for word from TRA. I am sending prayers that we get the word today, just as Simon keeps reminding me to be patient (que the eye roll). But I do trust and have faith that it will go as it should, and we will be on the road when it is our time. If it happened sooner than later, that would be great too 😉

Personal Introduction from the Founder

The East Africa Fund (EAF) for me is the greatest opportunity of my lifetime (so far). It is an opportunity that I don’t take lightly, and I am beyond grateful for the privilege I have been given to make it a reality. A privilege…? Yes, to embark on something new, something untold, something risky, is only accomplished with support from friends and family, particularly my husband, Luke. For this support I am beyond grateful and privileged. Thank you.

The EAF for me represents both a goal and a product. The goal is to create a continued connection and purpose in Tanzania. The product however, already accomplished, is the success of combining both skill and passion to create a vision of service.

So, what now…If you have read the website and been acquainted with the mission, vision, and timeline, you know that I am only on the first leg of this long journey. This leg I call “Nipo,” in swahili this means “I am here.” Literally I am here in Tanzania right now, to build the necessary partnerships with local organizations. I am here physically, and I am here mentally. I am 100% committed to this goal and I am allowing myself the physical and mental space to make it a priority. It has been a goal for a while, but only now have I found the support and time to make it a reality…thanks to the many of you who are reading this!

A jumping off point also helped…quitting a comfortable job and leaving my beautiful home and family in Denver, was no easy choice. But the decision was made clearer when I was given the opportunity to join a delegation of American women in Uganda for a Women’s Leadership Retreat (see images below). This retreat was coordinated by a Denver based not-for-profit – The Global Livingston Institute. With that opportunity, I decided to say “yes;” this was the time to take the leap. So, a week ago I joined that delegation in Uganda. A delegation of U.S. women came together with a delegation of East African women to listen together, think together, and act together. The fruits of those conversations and new relationships will be many. I am just now beginning to reflect on how powerful the experience was and I can’t thank the GLI team enough for the invitation to join their retreat. The lessons and relationships gained at this meeting will no-doubt last a lifetime.

One week after the retreat I find myself in Dar es Salaam – the hot, sticky, crowded, and beautiful port of Tanzania. The sounds, smells, and sights of Dar awaken my senses like no other. What a sweet homecoming it has been. Here I find the energy to embark on the EAF partnership building, “nipo.” I have already had great success connecting with local organizations and hope to continue over the next 1.5 months; stay tuned for upcoming blog posts to learn about these partnerships and to join the journey!

Cheers from TZ- Sam

If you read this and think…hmm how can I help…I am still fundraising for Sili’s car! – link here –

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