This is the first of a series of meet the team blog posts! Each month, we will feature a different HALI team member so that you can learn about their roles, background and interests. We’re starting with our HALI PREDICT field assistant, Muhiddin Salehe. Muhiddin has taught the team many things, including to say “Chapati!” when we pose for pictures. He’s always ready to greet people or his work with an amazing smile, so we follow his advice!
Here’s what we learned during our interview with Muhiddin:
After growing up in Bagamoyo, in eastern Tanzania near the Indian Ocean, Muhiddin loves coastal places, culture and food. His favorite meal is Ugali na Samaki (fish fresh from the ocean with ugali), though you can also find him eating fruits of any kind. He misses the coast and places like Saadani National Park, where he enjoyed swimming and walking the beach, but he is enjoying living and working in Iringa now. In addition to spending time with his friends and family (his wife and three young sons), Muhiddin loves to gain new perspectives through reading and conversations.
As a field assistant for HALI working on the PREDICT research program, Muhiddin has many opportunities to interact with game scouts, communities and other researchers. Working with wildlife is a new experience for Muhiddin after training first as a certified carpenter (a surprise for us!), serving as a guard for the prison system for nine years, and then studying at the Livestock Training Institute (LITI) in Morogoro. Being part of a research team was a dream of Muhiddin’s that led him to join the HALI Project in April of 2010. In the past year, his favorite part of working with HALI has been gaining diverse experience in field techniques and health research, and communicating with people of many backgrounds, interests, and cultures from village stakeholders to research partners at Sokoine University of Agriculture. He enjoys the challenge of constantly learning new things, from capturing fruit bats to doing outreach with local communities.
Cats and zebras: Muhiddin surprised us with his favorite domestic and wild animals. However, from the HALI team perspective he shares a lot of great characteristics with them. His social nature and playful personality draw people to him. With the alertness he admires in zebras, he is always on the lookout for new experiences and perspectives.
At the end of our discussion, we asked Muhiddin if there was anything else he’d like to share. He replied, “If I had three minutes to speak in front of the world, I would say that we have to recognize each other as family regardless of whether we are African, American, Asian… When we reach the point where we look at others and see human beings, that will be the real and beautiful world. Peace to me is everything and I want to be an activist for harmony”. Spend a few minutes with Muhiddin and you’ll see how he’s creating harmony a joke, smile or story at a time.