I did my volunteering placement in my summer holidays before entering my final year at University.
I was inspired to do a volunteering project after my friend recommended Projects Abroad. I did some research and was amazed at how many Teaching placements were on offer. I had always wanted to go to Africa and Tanzania seemed like the perfect place to visit! Tanzania is known for its incredible safaris, views, culture and food.
I applied online which was extremely easy and fast. I was put in touch with a lady from Projects Abroad who helped me every step of the way – from applying to giving advice on what I should pack right before I left the UK. I was offered so much help and guidance before I left for Tanzania that I felt at ease about my trip, I was full of excitement when I left for my Teaching Project in June.
I wanted to do a teaching project as I love working with children, I thought it would be nice to see how the educational system is run in a developing country. I took with me some gifts for the children, for example skipping ropes and colouring books. They were so grateful and enjoyed playing with their new gifts!
Arriving in Tanzania
When I arrived in Tanzania, I was met by a very friendly member of staff from Projects Abroad. I was shown around Moshi on my first day so I could get a feel for Tanzania. I was taken to my host family and was made to feel right at home.
I stayed with two other volunteers, who I bonded with very well. We have remained in touch and plan to meet up soon. The family itself was so welcoming, it consisted of a husband and wife; who had three children. I met two of the children, one my age and the other a young toddler. It was lovely to get to know them and their lifestyle. I was provided with my own room which had a bunkbed and a mosquito net. The house was lovely and we were fed so much for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The food was incredible!
I am a vegetarian and I was catered for, which I was so grateful. It is easy to say we did not go hungry! The portion sizes were huge, the food was all home-cooked and fresh; I loved it.
Adapting to the family’s lifestyle was difficult in some respects: they wake up very early in Tanzania, say around 5am to start the housework. As us volunteers were not getting up until 7am for work, I sometimes found it hard to sleep as I could hear the family starting their daily routines. The water system in the household was not working for the first few days of my trip, we used a bucket to shower which was a lot different to what I’m used to in the UK.
My teaching placements
For the first week of my arrival, I worked in a daycare. The daycare was very dark and dirty, the other volunteers and I cleaned up and repainted making the environment a lot nicer for the children. We also fed the children and put them to sleep for their midday nap. I brought colouring books and balls which meant the children could experience something new. They thoroughly enjoyed it and all ended up fighting over the balls as they loved playing with them so much! The children spoke no English and little Swahili, they had no lessons or set tasks which was a shame. The children used a potty for a toilet however they did not wash their hands after, the other volunteers and I set up a table with a bowl of water and soap; this was a way of teaching the children a routine.
Sadly, it was hard to get used to how poor the conditions were in the daycare, they barely had any toys and if they did they were in poor condition. There were no posters on the walls or pictures for the children to look at – this was something the other volunteers and I discussed and wanted to change in the future. It was so lovely to see that, even though the children didn’t have much, they were still so happy.
The second week of my trip, I worked in a school. The school was very advanced compared to the daycare. It was bright and educational, the children all had matching uniform. The children could speak basic English, my role was to teach them new songs as well as numbers and letters. The school had order to it, the children would eat at the same time every day, they had manners and could say please and thank you. The children were required to wash their hands before every meal and could ask to use the toilet. I really enjoyed working in the school and I connected with the children very well. We played lots of games and I taught them how to use a skipping rope which was lots of fun.
On the weekends when we did not go to work, we could travel around Tanzania. I went on a four-day safari. The safari went to the Serengeti National Park and the Ngorongoro Crater. I can easily say it was the best thing I have ever done. We camped in tents at night in the National Park. One of the nights we heard a strange noise, only to see that there was buffalo outside our tent eating the grass! It was very scary but absolutely amazing to see.
I will never forget my trip to Tanzania, I learnt so much about the people and the culture. I made lifelong friends and I will always have stories to tell. Projects Abroad was so helpful and I felt safe my whole trip. I recommend travelling to anyone, go and see the world – you will not regret it!
This is a personal account of one volunteer’s experience on the project and is a snapshot in time. Your experience may be different, as our projects are constantly adapting to local needs and building on accomplishments. Seasonal weather changes can also have a big impact. To find out more about what you can expect from this project we encourage you to speak to one of our friendly staff.