Volunteering abroad is a life changing experience which will give you new perspectives of the world, make you more compassionate and teach you how to be happier through giving. Tanzania is a great country to choose if you are volunteering for the first time. It is one of Africa’s most politically stable countries though has a poor economy, with more than 50% of its population living below the poverty line. Tanzania is also a place of diverse landscape, being blessed with Mount Kilimanjaro, stunning national parks, extraordinary wildlife as well as stunning white beaches. Volunteering in Tanzania is an amazing way of giving whilst enjoying everything that the country has to offer, in your free time. By doing volunteer work in Tanzania you can benefit from reduced rates on safaris and excursions.
About Volunteering in Tanzania
I have researched this article by spending a week with the volunteers from Hostel Hoff in Moshi, over the winter holidays. I’ve visited some of their projects and observed what it means to volunteer in Tanzania. Before I arrived in the country, I didn’t know much about the volunteering opportunities in Tanzania or what it actually meant to be a volunteer. We all know that there are so many websites out there that advertise volunteer work in Tanzania, which end up charging you an arm and a leg for bringing you to Africa. On the other hand, I also know people who went to Africa to volunteer over summer, through their schools, and did nothing but visit, with very few interactions with the locals.
First of all, you should know that volunteering in Tanzania means that you will spend a minimum of one month in the country. At Hostel Hoff, you don’t pay to volunteer, you only pay for your accommodation, which is 21$/month. This includes breakfast, dinner and laundry. There are quite a few volunteer programs that Hostel Hoff runs in Moshi, so no matter what skills you have, you will find something suitable for you. What I loved about Hostel Hoff was the family atmosphere among the volunteers. No matter which programs they are assigned to, the evenings are always spent together, either in the garden playing games or listening to music, or at the nearby terrace chatting and enjoying a local Kilimanjaro beer.
During the weekends, when volunteers have free time, the hostel offers many trips to the local attractions, at a much cheaper price than you will find anywhere else in town.
Volunteering in Tanzania means working with children, teaching, helping in hospitals, but also enjoying this beautiful country by visiting it.
How to Volunteer in Tanzania
Once you decide that you want to volunteer in Tanzania, it’s time to search for a trusted company that will help you have a great experience and keep you safe at all times.
One of the most important questions that you should ask yourself when you choose a program to volunteer in Tanzania with is where are your money going to and what will you role be, how are you going to help during your time in the country?
There are many international agencies that will charge you thousands of dollars for a few weeks of volunteering in Tanzania. Agencies that spend some of that money on themselves. 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! Make sure that you pay for your own flights to go to Tanzania – most of the times an included plane ticket will be highly overpriced.
What Skills You Need to Volunteer in Tanzania
You can find volunteer opportunities in Tanzania that don’t require a lot of skills or previous experience. As long as you are enthusiastic, patient, and are willing to learn, you will have a wonderful experience volunteering in Tanzania.
There are programs for every type of person, it doesn’t matter if you are 19 and just finishing high school, or if you are already a trained professional, midway though your life.
Volunteer Programs in Tanzania:
There are many volunteer programs in Tanzania, depending on your skills. In the section below I will talk about the programs run by Hostel Hoff, because this is where I’ve researched about how to volunteer in Tanzania.
If you choose a volunteer program in education in Tanzania you will be assisting teachers in their classroom and also help children make the transition from studying in Swahili to English. In Tanzania, children study the primary school in Swahili and the secondary school in English. It is a hard transition for them, if they haven’t spoken English before.
Hostel Hoff does not run teaching programs for public schools. They encourage however extracurricular activities such as drama, arts, farming, hygiene or skill developing. Volunteers can also offer one to one tutoring for children who struggle in school.
In schools belonging to orphanages, volunteers can teach children English and develop their own vocational classes such as singing, dancing, drawing or any other creative educational activity.
Volunteering in a youth development project in Tanzania is so rewarding on so many different levels. Usually you will work with marginalized and vulnerable children who have had a difficult start in life: they are street children, abandoned orphans or even children who have committed crimes to provide themselves with food.
Your role is to work closely with the children, helping them with homework, playing with them, guide and inspire them towards a normal life. The street centres are usually providing food and shelter for the children, whilst the social workers are trying to find solutions to their problems an reunite them with their family – if they have one.
You can support these children in so many ways! Whilst I visited the Msmaria Centre for Street Children in Moshi, one of the volunteers organised a football match. He got approval to go with the children to a football field and ran training sessions every day. The boys were so excited and looked forward to the big game day.
Another volunteer helped in the kitchen, with breakfast. As it was holiday, another volunteer decided to clean the classroom. Immediately a handful of children came in and helped with sweeping the floor or tidying up the books.
Outside, another volunteer was guiding another group of children to draw Christmas cards.
There are many orphanages around Moshi which are taking in children whose parents have died or abandoned them. Unfortunately, Tanzania is a country were HIV is still a big concern, with 4.6% of the adult population living with the disease. This affects children directly, many of them losing their parents to the illness. The orphanages in Moshi are doing the best they can to support children, but they have limited resources and are usually small and family run.
You can make a difference in the lives of these children when you choose to volunteer in an orphanage. Depending on the age of the children, in the morning they will go to school. You will help them with homework, English lessons, playtime activities and meals preparation. When the children are at school you can help with the household chores such as cleaning, prepare food or gardening.
There are no skills needed to volunteer in an orphanage, except for lots of love. Children are extremely happy to have volunteers playing with them. It is heart-warming seeing children as young as 4-5 years old being able to speak in English.
The healthcare system in Tanzania suffers from a medical professionals shortage, with many dispensaries not having any skilled health worker. There is less than 1 doctor/nurse for each 10,000 people. Only 20% of the people in Tanzania have medical insurance. With diseases such as HIV, malaria, dengue fever, diphtheria and hepatitis, there is always need for extra help in the local hospitals.
If you have medical training, volunteering in the healthcare system in Tanzania can be a very good idea. There is always need for doctors, nurses, lab technicians and midwives. Volunteers in a medical clinic in Tanzania are expected to assist doctors and nurses with task such as consults, treating minor injuries, distributing medicine, maternity counselling, and advising patients on healthy lifestyles.
There is a need for volunteers to work in centres for special needs children as well. Experience in working with children with disabilities is preferred, especially if you are trained as a physiotherapist. You will be mostly playing with the children, help them to read and write, help them exercise and assist with their meals.
Tanzania is a patriarch country in which women are considered to be subservient to their husbands. In many rural areas women are discriminated and even oppressed. Not being able to have access to education and marrying at a very young age, women’s role in the Tanzanian society is to stay at home, take care of the household and the children. Without education, it is very hard for women to even dream at having dreams.
The women empowerment volunteer projects that Hostel Hoff runs are focusing on helping women by offering them free access to education and the training needed to set up small businesses. Many women who benefited from these programs have managed to create their own source of income by tailoring, creating and selling bracelets, bookkeeping, even entrepreneurship.
Volunteering in a women empowerment project would require you to stay in Moshi for at least 3 months and be a very good communicator. You will help women find their own voice and realise their potential but also help promoting gender equality in the local communities.
If you don’t think that the projects above are suitable for you, there are other things you can help with in Tanzania. Projects focusing on sustainability are getting more popular in Tanzania. One of the orphanages supported by Hostel Hoff has cultivated their land and grows its own vegetables. Another project focuses on planting trees in an area which has been deforested. Sometimes there is need for help with painting, repairing, refurbishing the buildings of the orphanages or centres for children.
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.
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