Eloise Killing - General Care Projects in Tanzania
Ever since I can remember I have wanted to travel to Africa. I wanted to help out and interact with the children and to explore the different cultures and landscapes. When I got the chance, I grabbed it straight away. After a lot of research, preparation, and planning, I left for Tanzania. I can remember how nervous and anxious I felt as it was my first time travelling alone. I was 17 at the time and I was filled with multiple feelings such as excitement, worry and the fear of the unknown. I can honestly say that there was definitely no need for me to worry about anything.
Arriving in Tanzania
I departed my hometown, Limerick, to get the bus to Dublin Airport before boarding my flight to Dar es Salaam. Once I had arrived at the airport, I was met by a friendly Projects Abroad staff member who took me to my host family. It was hard for me to picture what the area looked like because it was so dark. I remember wondering why on earth people still out and about at 4 am.
When I arrived at my host family's house I was welcomed with open arms. They made me feel like I was a long lost relative. I was shown to my room which had bunk beds in it and was informed that another volunteer was on her way from Japan and would arrive the next day. At first, it took me a few days to settle in and get my head around the change. I was so overwhelmed by meeting so many new amazing people and how different my Tanzanian life was compared to my Irish life back home.
My Care Project
I spent my first week of my placement at a day care centre in Dar Es Salaam, not too far from where I was staying. The children would run to meet me every morning and welcome me in with a loud chorus of, "Good morning teacher!" The mornings consisted of classes. This was mainly learning the alphabet, numbers, colours, and animals. I also bought new chalk for the black board as I noticed how the three teachers were always sharing the same piece of chalk which was only about 1cm long. Although we spent a lot of time doing school work, we also got lots of time for fun activities such as arts and crafts and singing and dancing. My roommate and I even taught the children the Japanese and Irish version of "head, shoulders, knees and toes" which the kids and staff thought was hilarious!
In my second week, I went to an orphanage. This was where I experienced many strong bonds with the kids. I worked with the children, teaching them how to count and spell by playing games. Then we would spend hours upon hours jumping with the new skipping rope we had bought them. The children were so happy and excited to show off their talents.
I spent my last week back at the day care centre. The children were so glad to see I had returned, this made me realise the impact I was making on them which was heart-warming to experience.
Free time in Tanzania
I made loads of friends in Tanzania. I attended social nights every week where I'd meet new volunteers and get to enjoy delicious food, night clubs and bars. Every day after my placement I would try my best to go to the beach. I've visited Mbalamwezi Beach Club more times than I can count as it was very close to my host family's house. Another great beach is Coco Beach where I made many local friends that I still keep in contact with.
I tried to make the most of my weekends by going to Zanzibar - one of the most spectacular places I've ever been - going on a tour to Prison Island, trekking around Stone Town and snorkelling in Nungwi. I also went on a safari at Mikumi National Park, where I saw lions and crocodiles!
There is so much to see and do in Tanzania and you are spoilt for choice. The beautiful African landscapes, the interest people have in you and the busy atmosphere of living in the city will be something that will be missed.
All of the volunteers travelled to an orphanage as part of a medical outreach. We travelled by bus, then by motorcycle to reach the orphanage as it was so rural. All the volunteers split into different groups when we reached the orphanage and were assigned different tasks. My job was to greet each child and fill in their patient form for them. I first wrote down their name and age, then measure their height and weight. The Medicine volunteers then assessed them before being sent to the Projects Abroad doctor to review. Then, if needed, the children would receive medication.
As I reflect on my time spent in Tanzania, I feel an amazing sense of accomplishment and pride. The rewarding feeling I got each day by learning something new, even if it was just helping out, doing something new at my placement or even talking to my host family. Everyone always appreciated everything I did. This trip has made me become an overall more emotionally mature person and taught me a lot of new things about the way people live around the world. It also shaped me into becoming a more understanding and caring person.
I was extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to travel to a place I've always dreamed of going thanks to Projects Abroad. To have had a wonderful and welcoming host family who treated me like one of their own. To have met lifelong friends from all over the world and to have had never experienced being alone once. I was always surrounded by friends, family and the amazing staff of Projects Abroad. I shall cherish these memories for life. I would seriously recommend it to anyone because you will have the time of your life. You won't regret it, I promise!
This volunteer story may include references to working in or with orphanages. Find out more about Projects Abroad's current approach to volunteering in orphanages and our focus on community-based care for children.