Cooking from the Soul

Working in the bush is not easy, and one cannot walk miles to look for food or water because of the wild animals. This is where Fatuma comes in.

03/08/2022, Samira Haji

FZS through its Serengeti Conservation Project has a workshop located in the heart of the Serengeti, the Seronera. The workshop’s objective is to maintain the Serengeti National Park’s anti-poaching car fleet for the mobility and deployment of ranger patrols throughout the park. With about 30 workers in the workshop, FZS remains a key partner in the provision of logistical support to the Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) in supporting conservation efforts in the Serengeti.

But each worker needs food. But food is hard to get out here, sometimes the nearest restaurant is miles away and the trek to get lunch is dangerous – there are sometimes wild animals on the road.

This is where Fatuma comes in. She wakes up very early in the morning to prepare breakfast for the mechanics who have to be at work as early as possible and sometimes spend the night working on patrol cars.

Fatuma Saidi. © Monicca Tarimo

When did you start working in the Serengeti and what was your role?

Fatuma: I started working in the Serengeti since I was a young lady in the year 2015. I started working as a cook for Serengeti Savings and Credit Cooperative Organization (SACCO); a financial group that catered for provision of lunch for the FZS workshop staff, almost 6 years ago. With time the SACCO group ran its course and FZS hired me as a cook at the workshop canteen.

What do you love most about your job?

Fatuma: I love food and I generally enjoy cooking, it is one of the things that really bring me joy. I learned how to cook at a very young age from my mother. She taught me how to cook so many kinds of Tanzanian foods. Cooking for the team here at the workshop is so amazing, they are like my family, and the mechanics consider me as their sister. I love working for FZS, the conservation work that FZS has been doing over the years is key to the Serengeti. Without FZS the Serengeti would not be where it is today. All of us here love working with FZS, even when we talk with the people around here our main stories are based on the work that FZS does, and we as the people in FZS help to achieve several goals like making sure that this National Park remains a heritage to our future generation.

Fatuma serving breakfast. © Monicca Tarimo

Do you find working away from home challenging?

Fatuma: Sometimes; there is nothing in this world without its ups and downs. It is challenging for me to stay away from my little girl. Even though I know she is safe and healthy and happy in Arusha with my family, I do miss her a lot at times. However, my job is also rewarding and I love it here. I have grown fond of my colleagues in FZS, I mean; we only have each other in this massive wild place. We work together very closely and diligently. They love my food. I usually joke around with them and tell them not to eat much or else they will start dosing off at their workstation. There are other two ladies who work for FZS-Serengeti and I consider them my very close friends more like my young sisters.

What do you like about the Serengeti?

Fatuma: I love the wilderness, the nature, and the peace here. The serenity in Serengeti is equally unmatched. Serengeti is very beautiful. Tourists consider it a lifetime experience visiting the Serengeti. I consider it a beautiful miracle-working in the Serengeti. This place is just one of a kind.

What is your favorite animal in the Serengeti?

Fatuma: My favorite animal is the giraffe and I get to see it almost everyday. I love the giraffe’s skin tone and pattern and its long legs and the way they walk gracefully. Even when running for its life the giraffe does it with style.

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