Kirsten MacLeod - Care & Community in Tanzania
Arriving in Tanzania
Tanzania it was. After spending weeks researching the vast amount of destinations that Projects Abroad offer, I had finally decided. I would be travelling to Tanzania in the summer to participate in the Care and Community 2 Week Special. Although I had travelled alone before, I was nervous about the 27-hour journey that would take me from the United States to Kilimanjaro Airport in Tanzania. I read through the information that Projects Abroad provided on their website including the kit list, things to be aware of while travelling, and tips that other volunteers had offered (one of these tips turned out to be VERY useful!)
When I finally arrived in Tanzania, I was exhausted from the flight. I had made the trip safely, but unfortunately my bags hadn’t. Despite my misfortune, the situation didn’t bother me too much because the Projects Abroad staff helped me fill out the necessary forms needed for lost baggage and assured me that they would take care of everything! I had also packed a spare change of clothes and other imperative items, having read the tips on the Projects Abroad website!
My host family
I finally arrived at the house in which I would be staying at around midnight. I was shown around the house and able to settle in before going to bed. There were four rooms in the house for volunteers to stay in, each with two bunk beds. There was also a common room, kitchen, and two bathrooms. The house was clean and very nice. In the morning, I got to meet the other volunteers that I would be staying with. Everyone was so nice and friendly, and we were all excited to begin our first week of volunteering!
On my first day in Tanzania, we were given an induction to introduce us to the country, its culture, and our placement. The first stop was the school I would be working in. We got to see all the classrooms that we would be renovating and also got to meet the kids that we would be working with. Everyone was very welcoming. Each time we visited a class the kids would sing to us. We also got to play a game of football with the kids after their classes ended. Even though some of them were playing without shoes and they were significantly younger than all of us volunteers, they easily won the game. They scored 4 goals in no time.
Over the next two weeks, I got to know several of the kids personally. One of them, a boy named Kelvin, would try to make jokes with me. Even through the language barrier, I was able to understand his jokes as his laughter was infectious.
My project at the school included painting the walls and repairing the floors in several classrooms. After working hard for two weeks, we were able to make a big difference in the appearance and function of the rooms. Projects Abroad also organised for a man to help us with our project, as many of us volunteers had no idea how to perform tasks such as mixing cement.
Travelling in Tanzania at the weekend
Although my work during the week was rewarding, it was nice to have a break on the weekend. Projects Abroad organised two very exciting trips on our days off- one to Tarangire National Park for a safari, and one to Mt. Meru for a hike. The safari was amazing. Not only was I able to see zebra, giraffe, elephants, and more, but I was also able to see a lion taking down a wildebeest! The hike on Mt. Meru was also an amazing experience. After a challenging but doable hike along a stream, we reached a beautiful waterfall. The pool at the bottom was a nice place to cool off!
We also visited a Massai Village. One of the Projects Abroad staff members had grown up in the village and his family still lived there. After a bus ride into the middle of nowhere, we reached the village. We got to join in on a traditional dance, and were offered tea with milk. The culture here was drastically different to my own and it was very interesting to learn about.
I was sad to leave Tanzania. I made so many friends and learned a tremendous amount about the country and people during my stay.
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.