STORIES FROM OUR VOLUNTEER PROJECT IN LAOS
Testimonials from volunteers on a teaching project in Laos
- Volunteer Abroad
Volunteering in Tanzania, you will discover an incredible culture and really make a difference for local communities
The project : Volunteering (Working with children, Sports Coaching, Art, Music, Drama, Community Work) + travel (optional)
Location : Arusha, Tanzania
Duration : 12 or 16 weeks
Dates : 2 departures / year
Tanzania is now one of East Africa’s top travel destinations, however, away from these tourist areas there is very different side to the country. Education is a priority in Tanzania and primary education is both free and compulsory. By the late 1980’s the country’s literacy rate was one of the highest in Africa but much of this initial success has been lost.
Tanzanian schools lack furniture, textbooks, sports’ equipment, stationery and class sizes grow bigger and bigger. Our gap year projects and volunteer work opportunities in Tanzania are based in communities around Arusha and Machame (near Moshi). This is Maasai country, a tribe known for their beautiful clothing and beaded jewellery. You will gain an understanding of everyday life, away from the luxury beach hotels and safari camps; and contribute directly to a community, making a big difference on a small scale.
Volunteering in Tanzania you will experience community life firsthand.
Our gap year project and community volunteering opportunity in Tanzania includes 12 weeks in a carefully selected village with an optional additional four weeks of independent travel in East Africa (six weeks if you travel at half term).
There is no better way to get under the skin of the amazing African people. This volunteer project will allow you to gain an insight, that is much more than skin deep, into their ancient cultures and customs, by living, working and playing with them – a total immersion!
Volunteering in Tanzania gives you the chance to:
Your contribution on your project will mean a lot to your hosts.
You will fly into Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi from where you will need to take a connecting flight to Kilimanjaro Airport in Northern Tanzania. Here your representative will meet you on arrival and take you to a nearby hotel on the outskirts of Arusha – the base for your orientation course.
A chance to settle in, unwind after the hectic few days leading up to your departure and get to know your fellow volunteers. The orientation course is important to make sure you are fully prepared for the start of your project work. The course will be led by the AV in-country representative, giving you a chance to get to know them too, and will cover the following:
The orientation course for the Tanzania Venture takes place on the outskirts of Arusha, facing Mount Meru. You will stay in dormitory accommodation with your fellow AVs and have all your meals cooked for you. In between briefings you will have the chance to relax, explore Arusha and settle into your new surroundings.
At the end of the orientation course you will be taken to your AV houses, ready to start your project for real. Here the representative will leave you to settle into your new home, but remember they’re never more than a phone call away if needed!
What you do each day is partly down to you and what you have chosen to do; rarely are two days the same!
If you would like to spend time helping children speak, read and write English you can do so through one-to-one sessions, small groups or in the classroom on a larger scale. All lessons are taught in English. If you are keen to do more, schools will also appreciate help with math, science, art, drama, music and computers (if they have them). You can work with you partner, or on your own. Outside of this, you will need to spend some time planning for your sessions/groups and may have homework to mark!
For those doing sports coaching you will run all the PE lessons and arrange sports clubs. PE lessons may involve big classes and little equipment; they are a good test of you initiative and resourcefulness. Games such as tag or duck, duck goose are great for their simplicity and mass participation. Sports clubs involving football, rugby, athletics, rounders, volleyball, cricket and netball are all actively encouraged. There is also the option of introducing new games which you might know. Many arrange fixtures or tournaments between the different schools or an inter school sports day.
In addition to helping with English, or on the sports’ field, we make a big impact by running after-school clubs – these include debating, French, modern dance, art, music or drama; volunteers have run talent shows, produced school newsletters and magazines or started a choir. Many volunteers choose to brighten up classrooms by painting them or decorating the walls with educational murals from the alphabet and numbers to world maps and the solar system – let your imagination run wild and leave your mark!
Each day you can spend time socialising in the staff room, usually over a cup of chai (sweet tea) or lunch. This is a great chance to get to know you fellow teachers and learn more about them. They will be keen to talk about where you are from, your family and life at home whilst you can practice your Swahili! The teachers will be on hand to show you round and advise where to shop, the nearest internet café etc. They will also be a good link to other work within the community, with the potential for helping at medical clinics or community centers depending on where you are and how much you want to do outside your responsibilities to the children.
At weekends and public holidays you can stay at home or travel further afield. You may want to continue work on projects you have started, such as painting a classroom or run an inter school sports competition. Alternatively you can go to the local town to do some shopping, check emails, catch up on news from home, or meet up with other AVs, visit their schools and travel to different parts of the country such as the Ngorogoro Crater. Tanzania has the longest school terms of all the AV countries, often broken up with a ‘half term’ in the middle. Many use this to climb Mount Kilimanjaro or head to Zanzibar.
All pre-departure information and support, two references taken up, a Skype briefing, a face-to-face meeting for all UK participants, a comprehensive online health check with InterHealth, in-country induction course, accommodation and food (except during independent travel) and 24/7 incountry back-up support.
Flights, visas, medical / travel insurance, spending money or any adventure activities etc you choose to do.
You will live in designated houses with fellow volunteers. An important part of the experience is living in local accommodation, shopping at markets, being invited to fellow teachers’ houses as well as entertaining the staff and fellow volunteers. Depending on the size of the house you may be living with between two -six volunteers. Other from your group will be nearby, clustered around Arusha and Machame and there will often be a chance to meet up. Arusha is one of Tanzania’s most developed and fastest growing towns at the base of Mount Meru. It is the gateway to Serengeti, Lake Manyara, Tarangire and Arusha National Parks. Machame is a small village about 20 kilometres from Moshi in the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro and one of the starting points for trekking the mountain. Both towns have access to internet cafés and banks for exchanging currency.
The house will probably have a bedroom(s), a communal/cooking area and somewhere to wash. Electricity is intermittent at best, you may not have running water or flushing lavatories. Instead there will be an outside pit latrine or ‘long drop’. You will need to collect water from a local source using jerry cans, or buckets, just like everyone else. You will quickly get into a routine of sterilising the water by boiling it. Whatever house you get, you will grow to love it and soon feel very much at home!
We encourage independence and so you won’t have someone cooking and looking after you – it’s a chance to step up and take responsibility for yourself. You will be given a daily food allowance and will be expected to shop at and cook for yourself. This is the best way of getting to know people, being involved in the community and gaining an understanding of living there – you are not a bystander watching from afar.
The representative is never far away and there whenever needed. They can be contacted by phone 24/7 and will visit you during your project.
As your project comes to an end it doesn’t have to be time to say goodbye… our partner offers you the chance to include approximately four weeks of independent travel at the end of the venture, to ensure a good balance of volunteering and adventure.
Tanzania and other parts of East Africa have lots of exciting and beautiful places to explore which you won’t get a chance to do in your weekends or half term alone. Many volunteers want to stay on and travel but don’t know if others on the project will too. Therefore we include this extra time to ensure that you experience as much as possible and know that you will have people to travel with.
From our experience, travelling is often when problems occur, from lost passports to getting ill – that’s why we will still be there to help you, even though your project has finished.
The Registration Fee (£300) is payable within 21 days after acceptance of a place on the project. An interim payment of £500 is required to be paid 180 days (6 months) prior to the planned departure date. The final balance is payable no later than 90 days (3 months) before the scheduled date of departure.
The amount of refund in the event of a cancellation shall be calculated as follows :
Our organization is a not-for-profit social enterprise. Based in the UK and established in 1993, it manages volunteering projects in the developing world for 18 - 25 year olds. More than 5,500 young people from 30+ countries have together contributed over 1,200 man-years of service in the communities in which it works.
Our focus is on providing both volunteers and our partner communities with the best experience possible and by limiting our numbers we ensure we can treat every applicant individually and place them where they can have the most impact.
Becoming a volunteer is more than just joining a gap year program, it’s a community of individuals with shared experiences and we are with you long after you get back from the project.
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