Ethical Volunteering in Tanzania – Hostel Hoff Review

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“We had just returned from the supermarket, four of us squeezed into the back of a tuk tuk. We’re all outside, under the canopy, hiding from the powerful torrential rain with its big drops splashing our feet. I poured myself a glass of the Tanzanian red wine which I had just bought. Not bad, not bad at all, I’m telling myself. Shrek is stretching under the table on my feet, and Fernando by Abba resounds from the tiny portable speaker on the table.

Hostel Hoff is not just about volunteering, but also about the community too. This morning, I noticed that my name appeared on the blackboard, even if I am here just to observe and not to volunteer myself. I stared at it for a few seconds, whilst my heart filled with warmth and tears fell from my eyes. I feel I am part of this international family now.

Whilst everyone is doing their own thing around this table, without speaking, from time to time their voices join in humming whatever tune is playing. A. is writing in his journal, M. and F. are on their phones, A is doing her nails. Jessica calls: “Dinner is ready”! There’s chicken curry tonight!”

Extract from my Tanzanian journal

 

Why Volunteer in Tanzania?

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Tanzania is one of Africa’s most politically stable countries that has a poor economy, with more than 50% of its population living below the poverty line. Tanzania is generally a safe country to live in, especially around the North, in Moshi and Arusha. There is petty theft around, but as long as you don’t have any valuables on show, you should be ok.

The locals in Moshi are very friendly towards Mzungu – white person – because they know most of them are in the city to help.
Volunteering in Tanzania is an amazing way of giving whilst enjoying everything that the country has to offer. By doing volunteer work in Tanzania you can benefit from reduced rates on safaris and excursions, and who doesn’t dream about going on a safari once in their lives? Tanzania is such a diverse country, with amazing wildlife, national parks, mountains, islands and beaches.

 

How Do You Know the Project You are Volunteering With in Tanzania is Ethical?

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After writing about the projects available for volunteering in Tanzania, I received a few messages from people saying that volunteering in an orphanage is not ethical because they read this in the news. They were arguing that the children are taken away from their parents because volunteers pay good money to come to Africa, and that there is an entire business going on. How do they know this? Because they read it in the news, so it must be true.

I am not saying that this is not happening in some places, but seeing first-hand what the reality actually is, these comments raise negative feelings within me. How can someone who has never been to Tanzania before say that volunteering in an orphanage is not ethical, just because they’ve heard it somewhere. Moreover, how can someone who has never looked into the eyes of a child from an orphanage in Tanzania advise others not to go and volunteer?

I remember that as I got off the tuk tuk at the gate of Msmaria Centre for Street Children, a little girl came running to me, grabbed my hand and said in perfect English, and with the biggest smile on her face: “Hello, I am Samira. What is your name?”

During my stay at Hostel Hoff I’ve visited different projects and spent time observing how the volunteers were helping. I have also learned some of the children’s stories, which were heart breaking. Tanzania is a country where 4.6% of the adult population lives with HIV and unfortunately because of it, many children are still very young when they lose their parents. A few of the orphanages that I’ve been to are small, run by “mammas” who have taken in a few children, giving them a chance for education and a better future. Volunteers are helping children not only by teaching them English or playing with them, but also by opening their minds to the entire world, broadening their horizons and encouraging them to dream big.

Most of the orphanages that I have visited in Moshi are family run and have limited resources. Volunteers provide an enormous help to the households not only by looking after the children, playing with them or helping them with their homework, but also by contributing to the daily chores during school time. Some of these include cleaning, preparing food, or gardening.

So, is volunteering in an orphanage ethical? Yes, as long as you do a lot of research before you join a volunteering program in Tanzania. For example, Hostel Hoff does not charge you to come to Tanzania to volunteer. You only pay for your accommodation, 20$ a day, which also includes breakfast, dinner and laundry.

If you pay any money to do volunteer work in Tanzania, make sure that your contribution is helping the local projects, not someone’s pockets in a big office in London or New York!

 

Hostel Hoff Review:

Accommodation:

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Hostel Hoff is located around 15 minutes’ walk from the centre of Moshi, in a quiet area, away from the main road. There is a large garden where you can relax in one of the hammocks, sunbathe, and get beautiful views of Kilimanjaro on clear days.

The accommodation at Hostel Hoff is in dorms, with a couple of private rooms available as well for couples who are volunteering together. The rooms have curtains and mosquito nets above the beds. The bathrooms and showers are shared between the rooms. You should know that there is always hot water available, as the showers have electric water heaters. The rooms are cleaned daily.

There are plenty of communal areas where volunteers can interact and spend time together. I loved the outdoor tables where everyone was gathering in the evenings. It features a blackboard where all the important information is written, including the names of all the volunteers currently at the hostel.

The indoor living room features a TV and a large collection of DVDs, very handy when it is raining outside. There is even a guitar for volunteers who know how to play.

 

Food:

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Hostel Hoff offers breakfast and dinner included in the daily rate. Every day, Jessica cooked something different. For breakfast, there were eggs or pancakes, fresh fruit, toast, and sometimes even the traditional mandazi. One of the things I liked most about the breakfast was the avocado, which I never missed. Whilst back home avocado toast is usually a treat, at Hostel Hoff I enjoyed it every single day!

For dinner, again there were different dishes every day, from the traditional pilau with roast chicken and vegetables, to chicken stew with roasted chapatis and cabbage salad. One evening we even had a barbeque with grilled chicken, beef skewers and French fries.

 

Activities:

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By volunteering at Hostel Hoff, you benefit from reduced rates for any trips in Tanzania that you might wish to take, through African Scenic Safaris. We all know how expensive safaris or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro can be!

There are so many day or weekend trips that you can do as well, some which you won’t find in any other touristic brochure, such as overnight stays in a Maasai or Hadzabe Bushmen village, Lake Chala, Kikuletwa Hot Springs, or visits to the Kilimajaro Animal Hospital.

 

The Team:

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Hostel Hoff is run by a friendly team overseen by Mary, who can solve any problem that you might have and give the best advice when it comes to volunteering. The staff act like a big family who are there to make your stay in Moshi as pleasant as possible.

The hostel has its own security team who goes above and beyond to make sure that everyone is safe. For example, the few times we went to the nearby terrace in Moshi to have a beer in the evening, Elia – one of the Maasai security agents – accompanied us up there, then came to pick us up when we finished, even if it was just a 2 minutes’ walk back.

The staff speak English and they can teach you a bit of Swahili as well. Mary visits the hostel almost every evening to check and make sure that everyone is ok.

There are also two furry friends at the hostel, Peanut and Shrek, who love cuddles and scratches behind their ears.

 

 

Disclaimer: Please note that this article was written after ground research in Moshi, with the help of Hostel Hoff who kindly hosted me for a week and provided me with access to their volunteering programs. This is not a sponsored post. All the opinions in this article are my own and I would not recommend anything that I wouldn’t have enjoyed myself doing or think it was a great place to visit.

Some of the links one this website are “affiliate links.” This means that if you click on the link and do a purchase, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost for you. This helps me keep my website running and continue to share my traveling knowledge with you. I thank you for booking your flights or hotels using the links on my website. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers.

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Traveler. Dreamer. Cat lover. Wondering around the world with my backpack and my camera. Contributing to make the world a better place.

41 Comments

  1. This would be amazing to do. I’ll keep it in mind for sure. I always like to help others. The Hostel sounds nice!

  2. I can’t wait to go to Tanzania!! My best friend is from there and I promised her to pay her a visit soon, I can’t wait.

  3. This is such rewarding work and heartbreaking at the same time. Our family and friends have done several trips over the years. I have a friend that is still in Tanzania right now!

  4. Wow! This is amazing. I love volunteering, but I have never traveled far to do it. Thanks for the info!

  5. This post is so inspiring! It’s a life dream to travel and volunteer all over the world. I had no idea this existed, it’s definitely on my list now!

  6. I’ve never done any kind of voluntourism before, so I read this with great interest. It sounds like you had a fulfilling experience in Tanzania, and an ethical one too. Hostel Hoff looks wonderful.

  7. What a great post. If I had to live life over again, I would definitely want to do something like this after I graduated college. Perhaps when hubby and I retire, this is something we could do to. I love being able to slow travel. To not be in a hurry and to make a difference wherever you go. Thanks for sharing this. I loved reading about it.

  8. I can feel your goodness and the positive impact that you want to make on all those in Tanzania, especially those kids at the orphanages. I’ve seen them first-hand. The staff there are grateful; the kids, very taken. It’s nice to see the positive way you convey how special the people of Tanzania are.

  9. What a positive impact. I can’t even imagine being part of something like this and what the impact would be on me. Thanks so much for sharing this with all of us!

  10. I heard from a few that volunteering in orphanages isn’t good but how can you resist not interacting with these beautiful children? I’ve volunteered as a nurse and a teacher a few times in the past (here in the Philippines). I even spent a three of my birthdays with the orphans. Seeing the smiles on their faces makes me very happy. I am not familiar with how the Volunteer work in Tanzania but it’s almost similar to the ones here in my country. Most are family-run too.

    ps: Mount Kilimanjaro is on the bucket list!

  11. Volunteering in Tanzania sounds like an incredible experience, and I would love the opportunity to do it one day. Especially if where I was working had views of Kilimanjaro too.
    PS I love your writing style – it’s really engaging.

    Georgia

  12. What a wonderful experience. I can’t wait until I can volunteer again. There’s some amazing programmes out there! x

  13. Looks like amazing experience. I love to volunteer. I also would love to go to Tanzania. Thanks for sharing this article with us

  14. I’ve been a volunteer for several years now and I always feel reluctant to share my experience because I don’t want to seem like I’m bragging or whatever. But reading your text it doesn’t sound like that at all.

  15. It’s interesting to get a different perspective on volunteering in places like this. It looks like it was an amazing adventure and experience for a lifetime.

  16. Wow it sounds like such an amazing experience. I so wish I could go and volunteer too. And Samira is such a beautiful name.

  17. It sounds like an amazing trip! I would love to see Tanzania, and knowing that your time there is no only meaningful to you but also to the community makes it even more special. Like any trip, there’s research that should be done. But it does help me tremendously to read through someone else’s firsthand experience.

  18. This is such a wonderful thing to do. People need to give more of their time and in return, they will receive so much more from life.

  19. This sounds like a great trip! It must feel so good volunteering and helping people out. It’s cool that you got to take part in activities for reduced rates while you were there helping.

  20. Volunteering in Tanzania sounds amazing. Helping people from there would be a wonderful experience. I would love to do that too someday in the future.

  21. Volunteering is giving your heart out and it is just right that you get pampered yourself. And one of the basics is accommodation. Continue spreading the good vibes and have a good life! y! ☺❤️

  22. So touching and rewarding experience! The hostel also looks like a nice place to stay, simple but seems so neat and have a warm environment.

  23. Wow this sounds amazing! I’d love to be able to travel and volunteer around the world, especially if it was something to help children and families. It’s nice knowing there are resources out there to help you make sure that the programs you’re volunteering for are legit and ethical as well.

  24. This looks like an amazing trip. I’d love to be able to travel and volunteer around the world and see Tanzania. Thanks for taking us there and sharing your experiences!!

  25. What an amazing trip, I bet you have so many memories that will last a lifetime. It is lovely being able to be part of a community and helping others

  26. Volunteering in Tanzania sounds like an amazing and rewarding experience. The children’s experiences must have been awful to hear but the fact that they are now having an education will improve their lives for the better.

  27. I think if people have the ability to volunteer in other countries that are less fortunate, that is truly honorable! I respect those who can do this. There is so much to see in Tanzania and the food looks great!

  28. Tanzania is a very interesting country to visit especially in Africa. It’s one of my dreams to visit the place even before. Thank you very much for sharing your experience. Volunteering is such a very wonderful deed, especially the part that you were able to give share your services to the helpless.

  29. Love to read your review of Hostel Hoff, the accomodation and food at Hoff looks good! As previous post of volunteerism this also inspiring too. Your volunteer work is also inspiration for development and social workers.

  30. What an amazing experience and definitely something worthwhile! We hope to do travelling once lockdown is lifted, especially as people may need volunteers more than ever.

  31. Looks like such an incredible experience. I had always thought about volunteering but didn’t know where to start as there is so much info out there, it’s a little overwhelming. Love the look of the hostel and I’ll be looking into it, thanks!

  32. Hostel Hoff sounds like a great place to stay whilst volunteering! It is great that the people and pets seem friendly and the food looks good too!

  33. Volunteering seems like such a rewarding experience! I am glad Hostel Hoff was such a friendly place to stay. The dorms/rooms look comfy.

  34. This is such a nice idea to do in volunteering and it’s good to know that most locals know people are there to help. I don’t know much about volunteering programmes but the hostel situation sounds really good and it’s nice breakfast and dinner is included x

  35. Love all your piccys for sure. this looks like a really worth while thing to do and an amazing experience x

  36. What a fantastic blog post you have written here! I was not aware that some thought that it was not ethical to volunteer in Tanzania. Hearing your first hand experience makes things more believable.

  37. This sounds like an amazing experience and it must be so fulfilling being able to volunteer and knowing you could be helping. Tanzania looks and sounds like a beautiful place too.

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