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Travellers Quest
Volunteer in
Tanzania
The Ultimate Guide to Volunteering in Tanzania
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: Getting started - volunteer in Tanzania
Welcome to Tanzania
Why you should volunteer in Tanza...
www.travellersquest.com 3
CHAPTER 1: Getting Started - Volunteer in Tanzania
Welcome to Tanzania
Tanzania is a breathtakin...
www.travellersquest.com 4
Photo Credit: vwmin.org
Why You Should Volunteer in Tanzania
Amidst its vast natural and cultura...
www.travellersquest.com 5
tion of the environment for local people. As
a volunteer in Tanzania you can support their
progr...
www.travellersquest.com 6
games, or assist older children with homework
and tutoring.
Medical:
Poor healthcare and extreme...
www.travellersquest.com 7
beaches that could have come straight from the
pages of a glossy travel magazine. You will feel
...
www.travellersquest.com 8
CHAPTER 2 : Choosing Your Tanzania Volunteer Program
Photo Credit: Ifrevolunteers.org
Choosing w...
www.travellersquest.com 9
IFRE Volunteers (USA)
IFRE Volunteers is a USA based nonprofit organi-
zation that has been conn...
www.travellersquest.com 10
Agape Volunteers (UK)
Agape Volunteers provide volunteer opportuni-
ties in various countries, ...
www.travellersquest.com 11
explained clearly.
Is the cost reasonable? Bearing in mind what is
included in the fee, are the...
www.travellersquest.com 12
CHAPTER 3 : Getting ready to volunteer in Tanzania
Photo Credit: volunteerhq.org
Once you have ...
www.travellersquest.com 13
Control) website, which you can visit here.
Flight: Whether you are a seasoned travel or
rarely...
www.travellersquest.com 14
Gifts for Projects and/or Families: If you are
staying with a host family, you might want to
br...
www.travellersquest.com 15
CHAPTER 4 : Information You Must Know About the Project
Photo Credit: volunteerforever.com
By t...
www.travellersquest.com 16
their children’s’ ages, (also useful if you want to
bring appropriate small gifts), and ask you...
www.travellersquest.com 17
CHAPTER 5 : Arriving and Volunteering in Tanzania
Photo Credit: Yearoutgroup.org
As a volunteer...
www.travellersquest.com 18
experiences and adventures to be had. Set aside
part of your trip to allow yourself this time,
...
www.travellersquest.com 19
Culture Shock: how to overcome it
For most people culture shock is an inevitable
part of spendi...
www.travellersquest.com 20
Additionally, the area surrounding the mountain
is an UNESCO wildlife reserve, so if you prefer...
www.travellersquest.com 21
CHAPTER 6 : Completion of Project and Follow-Up
Photo Credit: abroaderview.org
Although some pe...
www.travellersquest.com 22
CHAPTER 7 : Most Frequently Asked Questions From Volunteers
How will I get from the airport to ...
www.travellersquest.com 23
not require an internet connection.
How will I get to my project every day?
This depends on the...
www.travellersquest.com 24
This free eBook is just written to help volunteers. So please use this book just as a general r...
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The Free Definitive Guide to Volunteer in Tanzania

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This guide includes; reasons that you should volunteer in Tanzania, some popular volunteer projects available, what to expect when volunteering, Do’s and don’t in Tanzania, and most frequently asked questions from volunteers.

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The Free Definitive Guide to Volunteer in Tanzania

  1. 1. Travellers Quest Volunteer in Tanzania The Ultimate Guide to Volunteering in Tanzania
  2. 2. Table of Contents Chapter 1: Getting started - volunteer in Tanzania Welcome to Tanzania Why you should volunteer in Tanzania What are some popular volunteer projects available in Tanzania? Where are some popular places to volunteer in Tanzania? Which is the best season to volunteer in Tanzania? 3 4 5 6 7 Chapter 2: Choosing your Tanzania volunteer program Which organizations offer the best volunteer opportunities in Tanzania? How you can select the best organization to volunteer with 8 10 Chapter 3: Getting ready to volunteer in Tanzania Visa, passport Vaccinations Air ticket Raising funds Suggested books to read Packing advice and tips Gifts for projects 12 12 13 13 13 14 14 Chapter 4: Information you must know about the project Project details What to expect when volunteering in Tanzania Learn about your host family Local support Make the final call 15 15 16 16 16 Chapter 5: Arriving and Volunteering in Tanzania How to make your volunteer in Tanzania experience rewarding Safety while volunteering in Tanzania Do’s and don’t in Tanzania Culture shock Things to do in Tanzania 17 18 18 19 19 Chapter 6: Completion of project & follow up 21 Chapter 7: Most frequently asked questions from volunteers 22
  3. 3. www.travellersquest.com 3 CHAPTER 1: Getting Started - Volunteer in Tanzania Welcome to Tanzania Tanzania is a breathtakingly beautiful country to volunteer in. From the peaks of Mount Kili- manjaro to the animal kingdom with its zebras, wildebeests, elephants and hippopotamus, vol- unteering in Tanzania will be an enriching and wonderful experience. Volunteer work in Tanzania is available in vari- ous fields. Whether you would like to teach English, or an arty subject like drama, singing, or dance, work on HIV/AIDS prevention educa- tion programs, put your heart into working with children in an orphanage, help the elderly and disabled, get your hands dirty doing manual labor, support local women’s organizations, or work in a medical setting, you will have lot of volunteer opportunities in Tanzania. As with any responsible volunteerism, if you en- ter into this experience with an open heart and mind, and are ready to give your all, you are bound to have a unique and rewarding place- ment.
  4. 4. www.travellersquest.com 4 Photo Credit: vwmin.org Why You Should Volunteer in Tanzania Amidst its vast natural and cultural beauty Tanzania struggles with the very real problem of poverty, particularly in rural areas. While you devote yourself completely to your Tanzania vol- unteering project you’ll be rewarded with the chance to meet peaceful and friendly people, opportunities to see exotic animals in the wild and lots of gorgeous landscapes. Here are a few of the top reasons to volunteer in Tanzania. Tanzanian culture: This East African country has a population of nearly 48,000 ethnically, religiously, and linguistically diverse people. The population is dispersed unevenly, with the ma- jority of Tanzania’s inhabitants populating the northern border and eastern coast. The rest of the country is very rural and scarcely populated. There are at least 125 ethnic groups represent- ed in Tanzania, with the vast majority being of African descent. The remainder have European, Arab and Asian origins. Some of the largest eth- nic groups in Tanzania are Sukuma, Nyamwezi, Chagga and Haya. Wherever you choose to go you will be im- mersed in a culture rich in diversity. Wildlife: When it comes to the animal kingdom Tanzania offers so many spectacular sights to be seen. Volunteering in Tanzania is a great oppor- tunity to see many famous wildlife species. Hiking and trekking: If you are looking for a serious physical challenge and some adventure, Mount Kilimanjaro is ready to offer it. In Tanza- nia, you can take part in the once in a lifetime hiking and trekking opportunities on offer, and enjoy the profound sense of accomplishment and breathtaking views that rewards those who make it to the top. Support and experience ecotourism: There are lots of nonprofit organizations and projects which can offer you an incredible experience in the natural world, while simultaneously using their and betterment profits for the conserva-
  5. 5. www.travellersquest.com 5 tion of the environment for local people. As a volunteer in Tanzania you can support their programs and missions. Make a difference in the lives of children: In certain regions of the country, there are many orphanages in need of volunteer help. Sadly, be- cause the rates of HIV/AIDS are high in Tanzania there are a lot of children who have lost their parents. You can help them with homework, teach Eng- lish, or assist with general facility upkeep. Whichever area you choose your time and skills will be put to good use. Learn about and help grow sustainable farm- ing: There are a growing number of ecotourism projects in Tanzania. If you have knowledge of sustainable farming practices and don’t mind getting your hands dirty you could be helping to conserve the unique natural beauty of this country. Experience profound personal growth: Tanza- nia is a country unlike any place you have ever visited. Volunteer work in Tanzania takes your experience of foreign travel to another level - opening your eyes to new customs, religions, sights, smells and human connections that are truly special. You will leave your placement feeling not only rewarded, but changed. What are some popular volunteer projects available in Tanzania? Every potential volunteer has something special to offer, and your skills and time will definitely be put to good use on one of the many volun- teer projects available in Tanzania. Some of the most popular programs feature children - supporting them in either the educa- tion or orphanage systems, medical projects, and those which help support women to achieve social and economic independence. Here is some more information on these pro- grams. Teaching: Tanzania has a real need for teachers in various subjects. Due to the vast linguistic differences, English language teachers are highly sought af- ter on many projects. If you have expertise in an art based activity you can share your skills and creativity, while health and wellness experts or professionals can volun- teer by teaching community health workshops. Orphanages: Due to the very high rates of HIV/AIDS in Tanza- nia, (about 1.4 million inhabitants are infected), there are many orphanages in the country which offer support and care for children who have lost one or both parents. As a volunteer on orphanage projects in Tan- zania you will either work in a caregiver role with younger children, organizing activities and Photo Credit: volunteerworld.com
  6. 6. www.travellersquest.com 6 games, or assist older children with homework and tutoring. Medical: Poor healthcare and extreme poverty create a great need for community healthcare and edu- cation. On this type of project volunteers help with everything from basic hygiene education to medical consultations. If you are a healthcare professional, (a doctor, nurse, midwife, or student in a healthcare pro- fession), your medical volunteer experience in Tanzania may well include more direct contact with patients, such as conducting examinations and delivering treatment. Women’s Initiatives: Women’s projects in Tanzania have multiple goals, but the primarily focus is on bettering the socioeconomic status of women by provid- ing job training, and helping single mothers care for their children while trying to improve their lives. Depending on your expertise and experience, as a volunteer you could be leading workshops on hygiene and sanitation, helping with micro- finance projects and facilitating employment training. Where are some popular places to volun- teer in TANZANIA? Into mountains, nature or beaches? Prefer busy cities, small towns or rural living? However you like your landscape there’s a region of Tanzania that can deliver it. Here’s the lowdown on some of the most popu- lar locations volunteers in Tanzania opt for. Northern Tanzania: Here, you will find Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti, two of Tanzania’s most famous and alluring destinations. This region is the best place to join an African safari and spot wildlife in a natural environment rather than in pic- tures, or climb Africa’s highest peak. Common volunteer projects here include teach- ing and sustainable farming. Dar es Salaam: This city in Tanzania was once a quaint fishing village, but has now transformed into a large ur- ban metropolis, housing approximately 4 million people. You will find everything a vibrant city could have to offer, along with a dynamic web of richly diverse cultures. Common volunteer opportunities include Teach- ing, Construction and Childcare Projects. Zanzibar Archipelago: In Zanzibar, you will find picturesque white sand
  7. 7. www.travellersquest.com 7 beaches that could have come straight from the pages of a glossy travel magazine. You will feel as if you’ve stepped back in time to ancient Per- sia as you explore the winding streets of a city peppered with Swahili and Islamic influences. If you are interested in marine life and conser- vation this is the perfect destination for you. Common volunteer projects include marine conservation and research, community outreach and education. Moshi: This is the capitol city of the Kilimanjaro re- gion, and it offers respite to those looking for some rest and relaxation. You can find great restaurants and hotels, not to mention excellent coffee, as it is located in the heart of Tanzania’s coffee producing region. Common volunteer opportunities include Educa- tion, Public Health and Women Empowerment. Pemba Island: Unlike some other destinations in Tanzania, Pemba is still quite remote and largely undis- covered by tourists. It is known for its intricate coral reefs and abundance of sea life, which makes it a popular diving destination. The land- scape of Pemba is lined with fruit trees and the entire area is rich in agricultural produce. While you won’t have as wide a variety of pro- grams to choose from here, you can get involved in environmental and health projects, HIV/AIDS education, and teaching. Which is the best season to volunteer in Tanzania? The dry season in Tanzania runs June to Octo- ber, which is also the best time to see animals if you choose to go on a safari tour. The famous Serengeti wildebeest migration generally hap- pens during the months of June and July. The best season to volunteer in Tanzania depends upon personal interest.
  8. 8. www.travellersquest.com 8 CHAPTER 2 : Choosing Your Tanzania Volunteer Program Photo Credit: Ifrevolunteers.org Choosing which volunteer placement in Tanzania is the best fit for you can seem challenging, but with some research you’ll be able to find the organization that both meets your needs and best utilizes your skills, leading to an amazing and satisfying experience during your Tanzania volunteer project. Which organizations offer the best volun- teer opportunities in Tanzania? There’s no need to spend days researching what hundreds of volunteer organizations offer to prospective volunteers in Tanzania when you can look at this list instead. We’ve done the hard work for you; gathering the details of some top companies who offer a variety of reliable, ethical and affordable volun- teer programs across Tanzania. RCDP Volunteer Abroad (Nepal) RCDP Volunteer Abroad prides itself on being the most affordable of all the volunteer place- ment organizations. Based out of Nepal, they have sent 12,000 volunteers abroad since 1998. RCDP runs community based volunteer programs in multiple countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, and focus specifically on orphanages and underfunded schools. You can work on orphanage, teaching and healthcare projects in Moshi, as well as HIV/ AIDS programs in Arusha and Moshi.
  9. 9. www.travellersquest.com 9 IFRE Volunteers (USA) IFRE Volunteers is a USA based nonprofit organi- zation that has been connecting volunteers with projects around the world since 2006. They of- fer over 200 programs lasting from 1-12 weeks, in 20 countries across the globe. In Tanzania, IFRE Volunteers offer placements in various areas, including: healthcare in Arusha, Moshi and Boma, orphanage work in Arusha, and English teaching in Arusha and Moshi, along with several others. Prices range between $450-$475 for one week, and $600-$650 for two weeks. Global Crossroad (USA) Global Crossroad has been organizing volunteer abroad programs since 2003, and has sent over 18,000 volunteers to 18 countries throughout Asia, Africa and Latin America. This organiza- tion offers projects of various lengths, including mini-ventures, adventure travel, teach abroad, and other customized individual and group pro- grams. In Tanzania, you have the opportunity to work in orphanages, teach, or join healthcare, HIV/ AIDS, and women’s’ empowerment programs in Moshi. Original Volunteers (UK) Original Volunteers is based in the UK, from where staff manage a range of volunteer place- ment options in 18 countries worldwide. Partici- pation fees are low, and some projects are free (except for accommodation). In Tanzania you can get involved with Iringa based placements in teaching, sports, construc- tion, orphanages and other NGO work. Help2kids (Switzerland) Help2kids is a nonprofit organization based in Switzerland but focused on volunteer projects in Africa. It was started in 2009 by a married cou- ple who had taken a vacation to Tanzania. After witnessing the poverty and challenges fac- ing this region of the world they created pro- jects to help children in Tanzania and Malawi, focusing particularly on meeting basic needs such as education, food and healthcare and im- proving family dynamics. All volunteer opportunities are located in Dar es Salaam, and you can work in the areas of child- care, education, sports and health. International Volunteer HQ (New Zealand) International Volunteer HQ connects thousands of volunteers with development focused place- ments in 30 different countries around the world. In Tanzania you can work in Arusha, on teaching, childcare or HIV/AIDS and medical projects. Photo Credit: globalcrossroad.com
  10. 10. www.travellersquest.com 10 Agape Volunteers (UK) Agape Volunteers provide volunteer opportuni- ties in various countries, and while they offer placements in a range of fields for every skill set they also offer specialty placements for medical students in Africa. This organization prides itself in making a real difference in the local communities in which they work and serve, and promises to provide a volunteer experience where you feel truly use- ful. With Agape Volunteers you have the chance to work in Arusha - either teaching English, work- ing in an orphanage, teaching sports, conducting vocational training, or on health projects. Real Gap Experience (UK) Real Gap Experience focuses on placing current and gap year students into meaningful volunteer placements. This organization has sent over 50,000 people on volunteer adventures across the globe, and they offer a huge variety of pro- jects and types of trips. In Tanzania you could be a volunteer community worker in Dar es Salaam or a teacher in Zanzi- bar. i-to-i (UK) I-to-i is an organization which offers both vol- unteer placements in various countries, and an English teaching (TEFL) certification. They have sent over 50,000 volunteers abroad, and work primarily in the fields of wildlife conservation, teaching and community projects. Their volunteer placements in Tanzania include opportunities to teach young children in Zanzi- bar, help at community projects in Moshi, teach English in Zanzibar. How you can select the best organization to volunteer with Signing up to volunteer in a country you’ve nev- er been to can be nerve wracking, but choosing the right organization for your volunteer experi- ence in Tanzania can make the experience both smooth and rewarding. As there are a lot of competing organizations out there it is vital to know what to look for when choosing the best one for you. Here are some important points to consider when making your decision: Check their website, blog and social media sites: While not all organizations will have Face- book and other social media outreach, (particu- larly if they are a smaller project), at the very least the website and/or blog should appear professional and current. Are their projects well explained? Do you get a clear picture of what you would be working on as a volunteer? Make sure all information is Photo Credit: realgap.co.uk
  11. 11. www.travellersquest.com 11 explained clearly. Is the cost reasonable? Bearing in mind what is included in the fee, are the costs of a particu- lar program you are researching reasonable in comparison to other projects? What percentage of the fee is passed on to the project and local community? Will you stay with a host family and eat local food they provide? How much do host families get paid? Answers to these questions will help you understand both what you can expect and where your money will go. Read reviews from past volunteers: While there will always be some volunteers who didn’t give rave reviews, the majority of organizations’ reviews should be positive. If past volunteers are going out of their way to give good reviews this is a good sign and should be taken seriously. Do check out how an organization responds to any negative reviews you might come across. Do they seem to be apologetic and open to making changes? Ideally, you can get contact information and communicate personally with previous volun- teers to hear firsthand about their experience. Communication: Once you initiate contact with the organization they should be (relatively) quick and consistent in their communication. They should be open and willing to provide answers to all of your questions, and nothing should seem unprofessional or hidden. Research how the project is helping the lo- cal community: The main goal of any organi- zation that accepts volunteers should always be to serve the local community, so do a little research on current and past projects to see if your organization measures up. In general you need to feel they are not focused on profit over helping project participants. Photo Credit: Help2kids.org
  12. 12. www.travellersquest.com 12 CHAPTER 3 : Getting ready to volunteer in Tanzania Photo Credit: volunteerhq.org Once you have been accepted on your volunteer placement in Tanzania your main focus should be on getting the paperwork in order, and any other preparation you need to do to have the best experience possible. Here are some important tips to help you: Visa: As with any country, Tanzania’s visa re- quirements vary depending on your national- ity. The rules for securing a volunteers visa are often changed so make sure you check with your chosen organization for the most up to date information. It’s best to leave plenty of time for this and be prepared to budget a few hundred dollars (or equiv). Passport: All volunteers and tourists are re- quired to have a passport with at least 6 months validity. You also must show an onward travel ticket dated to prove that you will be leaving the country within 3 months. If you are considering staying longer than this check with your volunteer placement for advice. It is usually possible to extend your visa for 3 more months at the immigration office in Dar el Salaam. Vaccinations: On top of the routine shots which are recommended for general travel, such as measles-mumps-rubella, diphtheria-tetanus- pertussis, varicela (chicken pox), polio, and a flu shot. Travelers to Tanzania are advised to have typhoid and hepatitis A vaccinations too. Stay aware of any current health concerns and advice by checking the CDC (Center for Disease
  13. 13. www.travellersquest.com 13 Control) website, which you can visit here. Flight: Whether you are a seasoned travel or rarely go near an airport it’s always a challenge to find a great flight deal. Here are some tips to help you get the best priced flight possible: ▪▪ There are many airports in Tanzania! The biggest are found in Dar es Salaam, Kiliman- jaro, Kisauni, Mwanza, and Mtwara. When searching be sure to check multiple locations in case one is much cheaper, (depending of course on where your volunteer place in Tan- zania is located.) ▪▪ If you decide to use a travel agent make sure they will alert you if any deals come up, so you can take advantage. Similarly, subscribe to cheap flight websites such as Travelocity. com or Expedia.com for flights to Tanzania. Great deals appear suddenly so you need to keep an eye on your email and be ready to buy at the right price. ▪▪ The more flexible you are with your travel dates, the better. If it is much cheaper to go early you could use that time to do some sightseeing, and get familiar with Tanzania before jumping straight into your volunteer project. Fundraising: If you need some support to fund your volunteering in Tanzania plans there are several ways you can raise some cash to cover costs. Chances are your family, friends, and friends of friends will be happy to support you. Promise your supporters that you will update them with regular newsletters or photos, and let them know how their money is making a dif- ference. Your fundraising efforts could include creating an online page (with gofundme.com, for example), setting up a fundraiser event, or starting a blog. Get creative! Suggested Reading: As a volunteer abroad to serve it is important to have at least a basic understanding of your destination country’s his- tory. A travel guide is a good thing to take with you too. Some great reads on Tanzania are: 1. Serengeti Story by Anthony Sinclair 2. Wildlife of East Africa by Martin Withers 3. Rough Guide to Tanzania and Zanzibar Packing Advice: It’s best to ask the staff at the organization you have booked your volunteer in Tanzania placement through for packing advice, as the weather does vary between regions, and your project may have a dress code. Decide if you’ll be more comfortable with a suitcase or backpack. Are you thinking of travel- ling in the region before or afterwards? Or will you feel more settled with a suitcase if you are just going to be in one place? Will you be in a place where you can purchase anything you may have left at home? Here are some tips on the key items to pack, so you go to Tanzania fully prepared: ▪▪ Clothing needs to be appropriate for the region you are visiting. The coastal areas are the hottest, while higher altitude regions are much colder. Research the regular weather conditions for your destination location, but also check with volunteer agency staff before you set off, in case of any unusual weather conditions. ▪▪ You might want to bring a mosquito net, depending on where you are going. Again, double check with your organization. ▪▪ Mosquito repellent. ▪▪ Sunscreen, a hat and lightweight clothes to protect yourself from the sun, (particularly in coastal regions). ▪▪ Find out if you need to bring the basics like laundry soap, shampoo, and so on, or if you can easily purchase these items in country. ▪▪ Books and a journal. It is important to research what the cultural and religious dress codes are for the particular re- gion you have chosen. Some are more conserva- tive than others, so check with your volunteer organization in Tanzania or travel forums to get the most accurate information.
  14. 14. www.travellersquest.com 14 Gifts for Projects and/or Families: If you are staying with a host family, you might want to bring a gift. If not, you might still want to con- sider bringing a gift for your project, (although it is not absolutely necessary). ▪▪ Monetary gifts are not generally appropri- ate, but a small gift from your hometown, or something useful for your family or project would be a very nice gesture. ▪▪ If you are working with children you could bring some toys and/or games. If you are living with a host family perhaps bring some- thing your host mother could use in the kitchen, or something decorative for the house such as a clock or picture frame. ▪▪ Your volunteer organization should be able to provide information about what is and is not appropriate and/or expected.
  15. 15. www.travellersquest.com 15 CHAPTER 4 : Information You Must Know About the Project Photo Credit: volunteerforever.com By this point you will be pretty much set to leave for your volunteer project in Tanzania, but to help make sure everything runs smoothly from the start take a little time now to double check you have all the information you need. Here is a handy checklist of important things to ask about (if you haven’t already): Project Details: First and foremost get all the key information about the project that you need. This includes the name and street ad- dress, contact information of someone reliable and connected to the placement, and key de- tails on things like airport pick-ups and the date you’ll start work. What to expect when volunteering in Tanzania: The best way to get some insight into what lays ahead is to direct your questions to your vol- unteer placement organization. They should be happy to answer all of your inquiries, so that you have a good idea of exactly what you will be doing. Additionally, be sure to read past volunteer reviews and speak personally via email or phone with past or present volunteers, as sometimes they have a firsthand take on things that the project organizers might not be able to provide. Investing in a good travel guide is also worth your while. Learn about your host family: If you have an opportunity to stay with a host family put in the time to learn about them before arriving. This can be as simple as learning their names and
  16. 16. www.travellersquest.com 16 their children’s’ ages, (also useful if you want to bring appropriate small gifts), and ask your vol- unteer agency about any linguistic religious and cultural norms you may need to adapt to. Local Support: To put your (and your families’) minds at rest, get the contact information of local support in and around your volunteer placement in Tanzania. This could be a coordi- nator/support worker connected directly to your organization, and/or your local embassy. Get in touch with this person before you travel to establish a connection, and know how to get a hold of them if you have any general ques- tions, need support or have an emergency. Make a final call before leaving: No matter how many times you might have connected and communicated with your volunteer organization in Tanzania, you should make one final call, just to be absolutely sure that all details are con- firmed. If someone is picking you up at the airport, (which is typical), double check they have your correct flight information, and ask who will be picking you up at the airport and how to rec- ognize them. This will make your arrival much smoother and less stressful!
  17. 17. www.travellersquest.com 17 CHAPTER 5 : Arriving and Volunteering in Tanzania Photo Credit: Yearoutgroup.org As a volunteer in Tanzania you will be looking to make a difference in the lives of individuals and communities in need, while also having a fun, and rewarding time. There’s little doubt that both these things are more than possible, but it is wise to be pre- pared for a few bumps in the road too, espe- cially when you first arrive. Whether you have extensive travel experience in developing countries and are prepared for what you might see, or this type of adventure is entirely new to you, it’s rarely easy to be ex- posed to the inequality and injustice that exists in the world, and find yourself staring straight into the face of a very different kind of poverty. Preparing yourself as best you can will help ease this transition. How to make your volunteer Tanzania experi- ence rewarding: Embrace the culture: There will inevitably be moments of challenge and frustration which may leave you feeling well out of your comfort zone, but you will truly get the most out of your volunteer experience in Tanzania by accepting things are going to be very different and truly immersing yourself in the culture. Learn at least some basics of the language, ask questions about why things are done in the way that they are, and share customs and traditions from your own country. Overall, accept every- thing you are faced with as an opportunity for growth. Be sure your main goal is the volunteer work: Anytime we are abroad there are so many new
  18. 18. www.travellersquest.com 18 experiences and adventures to be had. Set aside part of your trip to allow yourself this time, but always bear in mind that your main focus of energy should be on the volunteer project in Tanzania you are about to start, and the people you are there to serve. Make everything else secondary. Stay positive: When you are in an unfamiliar country and culture for a certain amount of time it’s possible that you will begin to feel a little irritated by constantly bumping up against cultural differences, language barriers, and other frustrations that can come up. If you go into your volunteer adventure abroad experience having done some research about what to expect you are more likely to see the lighter side of things, or at least use them as learning opportunities. Safety while volunteering in Tanzania: While Tanzania has a kind and generally hospi- table culture there are always risks and dangers when traveling abroad, just as there are in your own country. When a country has a high level of poverty it’s inevitable that crime rates for theft of money or valuable items are higher than av- erage. You can keep yourself safer by being street smart, being aware of your surroundings and us- ing these general safety tips during your volun- teer placement in Tanzania. ▪▪ Keep valuables on you at all times when traveling. They could be in a money belt or safely secured in a small purse worn in front of your person. Never put important docu- ments, money or valuable items in a back- pack or suitcase that is out of your sight. ▪▪ Once at your volunteer placement inquire as to whether a safe is available for your use. Place cash, traveler’s checks, and passport/ important documents in the safe for the du- ration of your stay. ▪▪ Research and purchase travel insurance. This should at the very least include evacuation insurance. These policies are not typically very expensive, and well worth it. ▪▪ Carry a photocopy of your passport and visa with you at all times instead of the original documents. ▪▪ Register with your countries’ embassy in Tanzania. ▪▪ Dress appropriately, according to cultural and religious norms. Here is the US Department of State travel warn- ing website. http://travel.state.gov/content/ passports/english/alertswarnings.html Do’s and don’ts in Tanzania: DO: ▪▪ Travel in a group or with one other person ▪▪ Be conservative in dress and behavior ▪▪ Use common sense/street smarts ▪▪ Be aware of your surroundings ▪▪ Call for help from local police, your volun- teer placement contact/coordinator, or the embassy for your country, if you need it. ▪▪ Respect the local culture and traditions ▪▪ Travel ▪▪ Spend time with your host family and local people ▪▪ Greet everyone in a room, or that you pass on a corridor in your workplace – even if you don’t know them DON’T: ▪▪ Drink alcohol excessively ▪▪ Walk alone at night ▪▪ Walk alone in a very remote or rural area ▪▪ Drink tap water or eat street food, (or be prepared to suffer the consequences) ▪▪ Kiss, hold hands with or hug people on the streets ▪▪ Criticize anyone in public, this is thought to be seriously bad manners ▪▪ Forget to wash your hands before and after eating
  19. 19. www.travellersquest.com 19 Culture Shock: how to overcome it For most people culture shock is an inevitable part of spending time overseas, especially when in a country where the way of life is quite dif- ferent from the one you grew up in. It may be unavoidable, but culture shock doesn’t have to dominate your time abroad. Here are a few tips on ways to either lessen or learn to deal with culture shock: Expect the Unexpected: You’ll get the most out of your Tanzanian adventure if you can get com- fortable with being surprised, or maybe even challenged by some things you’ll experience. No amount of prior research can fully prepare you, so learning to roll with things will make for a richer experience in the long term, and leave you with lots of stories to tell. Be grateful: Constantly remind yourself that serving abroad is a privilege. You have the re- sources and opportunity to travel the world, see and explore new cultures, and help out in com- munities less fortunate than your own, which many people around the world will never be able to do. Don’t expect the same ethics, norms or forms of communication in the workplace that you are used to: Whether we realize it or not, every country has very culturally specific workplace norms. In our birth culture we rarely consider such things, simply accepting them as standard. Since you are embarking on your volunteer trip to Tanzania to work you are likely to be faced with different interpretations of the terms punctuality, direct communication and efficien- cy. This may be challenging, but being prepared for such differences will help you adapt much more easily. Focus on befriending local people: This is es- pecially important if you are planning a longer term volunteer experience in Tanzania. Focusing your energies on making friends and connections with local people is beneficial, as short term volunteers come and go quite often. While connections with other foreigners are important, especially when emotional support is needed in your own language, spending qual- ity time with locals will help you to feel more rooted and part of the community where you are working, and help you to understand and adapt to cultural differences much faster. Don’t feel bad about negative emotions: It’s natural to experience a range of emotions as you undertake this volunteer journey. These might include feelings of judgment, loneliness, frustration, guilt, injustice, privilege and power. It can be difficult to acknowledge these feelings but they are natural and part of the personal growth process volunteers go through. Be honest with yourself about whatever it is you’re feel- ing, and what triggered them. Find someone in your host country or at home that you can talk to openly, and perhaps seek advice and guidance from if you need to. Things to do in Tanzania: One of the perks of volunteering in Tanzania is the opportunity to explore this wonderful coun- try. From day trips and weekend breaks to ex- tended periods of travel – there’s an abundance of places to see and things to do. Here are some of the most popular places to visit: Climb Kilimanjaro: Africa’s highest peak, Mt. Kilimanjaro has 3 peaks, which vary in level of difficulty so there are various options to choose from, depending on the level of climb/trek you’re looking for.
  20. 20. www.travellersquest.com 20 Additionally, the area surrounding the mountain is an UNESCO wildlife reserve, so if you prefer not to hike and just to enjoy the beauty this is also a great option. Serengeti National Park: There are several ways to enjoy the wonders of this national park, which is famous for the annual wildebeest mi- gration and home to zebras, gazelles and many other exotic animals. Why not take a balloon ride over the park? Don’t worry if you have no head for heights as you can drive through it too. Ngorongo Crater: This is a truly spectacular destination. Created by a volcanic explosion between 2-3 million years ago, this crater has become home to lions, zebras, rhinos, wilde- beests and more. There are plenty of tour com- panies that offer different options to see this wildlife and natural beauty, and it definitely is a must-see. Zanzibar Beaches: These picturesque white sand beaches are ideal for rest and relaxation. On this gorgeous island, you can decide if you want a more rustic/less touristy experience, or a slightly more popular and developed beach getaway. The east coast of the island offers incredible coral reefs, while northwest beaches are better for swimming. Stone Town, Zanzibar: If you feel like venturing from the beach visiting Stone Town on the island of Zanzibar is a great option. This historic site is a Swahili coastal trading town, famous for ex- otic spices and historic architecture. This is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which means its historic relics are protected by a local NGO. Mafia Island: An island predominantly populated by fisherman, this coastal destination is famous for scuba diving - with options for both begin- ners and more experienced divers. Mafia Island is also known for its amazing coral reefs and marine life. Selous Game Reserve: This protected reserve covers 5% of Tanzania’s land mass, and can be seen by boat safari down the Rufiji River. The Selous game reserve is home to an impressive array of animals, including elephants, leopards, buffalos, wild dogs, wildebeests, hippos and tons of bird life. Maasai tribe: For a unique Tanzanian culture experience consider taking a cultural tour of the Maasai tribe. This community is world famous for their beautiful dress and traditions, and is located near to the game reserve. You can even do a homestay with them. This is an amazing, one in a lifetime opportunity to live with the 2,000 year old tribe, and learn firsthand about their daily life and customs.
  21. 21. www.travellersquest.com 21 CHAPTER 6 : Completion of Project and Follow-Up Photo Credit: abroaderview.org Although some people decide to stay on in coun- try, perhaps choosing another project to help on, or even finding a regular job, most volun- teers have to face the end of their placement, and leave Tanzania. This can be a difficult experience both for your- self and the people you have served, and you will probably experience a range of emotions. However you feel, it is helpful to your organi- zation and to future volunteers if you can give honest feedback about your experience. Such feedbacks help other aspiring volunteers dedi- cate themselves into the noble cause. One way to ease this transition is to continue supporting your organization, perhaps by organ- izing an event where you can share stories from your time abroad, and maybe even recruit oth- ers interested in volunteering. This could be in the form of say a slideshow and presentation with typical Tanzanian food and drinks for your friends and family. Here, you would have the chance to share with them the amazing work your organization does and the role you played. If you feel comfortable with the idea you could make this event into a fundraiser for the or- ganization as well. Your passion and support for your volunteer organization in Tanzania does not have to end upon your arrival home.
  22. 22. www.travellersquest.com 22 CHAPTER 7 : Most Frequently Asked Questions From Volunteers How will I get from the airport to my host family/volunteer house? Your Tanzanian volunteer organization should arrange for someone to meet you at the airport and take you to wherever you will be staying. Be sure to confirm this with the organization before leav- ing. Will there be support from local staff in Tanzania? Yes, there will be at least one support staff member available to help you on the ground in Tanza- nia. Be sure to get this person(s) contact information before arriving, and verify that they will be available. How many other volunteers will be participating with me? This completely depends on the project. Some only have the capacity for a small number of volun- teers, (especially those run by small organizations), while some might be hosting many volunteers at once. Check with your volunteer organization to see how many volunteers will be joining you, and wheth- er or not you will have a roommate if using a homestay. Will my host family be able to speak English? Swahili and English are the two official languages of Tanzania but in daily life there are many other native languages spoken. It’s best to check with your volunteer placement in Tanzania to confirm the most popular languages spoken at your destination. Can I travel to other cities on my days off? Definitely! As long as you are completing your expected hours and tasks with your organization you should take advantage of your time abroad to see the many sights of Tanzania. Do I have to bring my own bedding and mosquito nets? If you stay with a local family bedding will be provided. Depending on the time of year you go and the season, mosquito nets are recommended. They help to protect you from disease carrying mos- quitoes and to sleep peacefully at night. Ear plugs might not be a bad idea, as well. What if I don’t speak the native language? As English is one of Tanzania’s official languages you should be able to get by, even if most people are not fluent speakers. Don’t let this deter you from making an effort to learn the local language though. Go prepared with a phrase book and/or dictionary, and perhaps even a smartphone app that does
  23. 23. www.travellersquest.com 23 not require an internet connection. How will I get to my project every day? This depends on the project and where you are staying. With some placements, you might be living right there on the premises, or with a host family within walking distance. If not, you will need to ask someone at your organization if you need to take public transportation, or if they will provide rides back and forth. Can I speak with a volunteer who has completed a placement? Yes, and you should if at all possible. Ask your organization for the contact information of past and/or current volunteers. As a second option/last resort, be sure to carefully research past volun- teer reviews. What does the accommodation look like? Can I see pictures? You can ask your organization if there are any photographs available, but in general you can expect something much humbler than you are used to. If you are placed with a family be prepared for potentially rustic conditions, and that your homestay conditions might not be as nice as another volunteers. You should ask about/check that you will be staying somewhere clean, with filtered water, a fan, a lock on your door and so on. Where will I be working? Again, this depends on which project you have chosen. You might be in an urban or rural setting, working outdoors or indoors, or maybe even on the beach! Research the specific location where your volunteer organization is, and also what is available in and around that area. This is important not only to plan weekend travel, but also to know what kind of amenities you can expect, and how conveniently you can buy items you might need, like toiletries. What kind of food will I eat while I’m there? Tanzanian food is always delicious, though the staple dishes vary between regions. On the coast you will find spicy foods made with lots of coconut milk, while on the mainland most dishes feature rice, corn, meat or a variety of beans. Many Tanzanian dishes have an Indian influence, due to the influence of immigrants, and you’ll find chai tea is a popular drink, typically enjoyed throughout the day. Are there any treks or excursions I can join in my free time? Depending on where you are volunteering, there might be opportunities for hiking, trekking, and (almost definitely) enjoying nature. Tanzania is home to many wildlife reserves and parks, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding outdoor adventures.
  24. 24. www.travellersquest.com 24 This free eBook is just written to help volunteers. So please use this book just as a general reference or source of information. We cannot guarantee the validity of information as changes in the field can be sudden. As it is impossible to provide a definite or authoritative guide it is vital you verify information directly with a relevant and up to date source. We cannot be held liable in any way for damages caused should you choose to overlook this advice. How many hours per day will I be volunteering? This should be established with your volunteer placement well ahead of time, so you are both on the same page about what is expected. Some volunteer organizations ask for a full 40-hour work week, while others expect only a half day and allow you the rest of the time to explore and relax. If you are working in agriculture or construction you may well have a very early start and finish, while some other types of projects may need you to start later in the day. It’s always best to check directly with your volunteer organization about the specific details of the project you will work on. How much money should I bring? This depends partly on what is included in your volunteer fees. Are all of your meals provided for free, or are you responsible for buying some? Is transportation to and from your placement cov- ered? When you have this information, you’ll need to decide what other activities and travelling you plan to do in Tanzania, and look around the Internet for up to date information on what these things will cost. Don’t forget to include a budget for daily living expenses such as bottled water.

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