Volunteering in Tanzania at the Kilimanjaro Teaching and Community Involvement Project

Posted by: Jen H.

I first found out about GoEco when one of my university lecturers forwarded an email about the kinds of volunteering they organise and a teaching programme in Moshi, a town at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania. I signed up for 2 weeks of volunteering at the Kilimanjaro Teaching and Community Involvement Project this summer and was both excited and nervous – I had never been to Africa before or done anything like this before, but I thought I might as well try it this summer otherwise I’d never end up doing it! Everything was all very organised by GoEco and they gave me a ton of pre-departure information, what I needed to bring and what would happen when I was there.

I arrived on Monday the 7th and was introduced to all the other volunteers (there were around 12 of us in the house during the time I was there) who were from all over the world. We were shown round our house, which was lovely – much better than I was expecting – and it was right in the middle of the school community which meant by the end of the trip we knew the community really well. On our first day we had an induction where we learnt how the volunteering programme would work and the kinds of things we’d all be doing.

I was lucky enough to be teaching the Masai, who were adults in the local tribe trying to learn to read and write Swahili and speak small bits of English which would help in the tourist industry. Many of them worked as guards or for a local hotel which meant it was good to know some English as well as Swahili. They were all lovely, and were always excited and willing to learn; it was amazing seeing how happy they were after we would tell them they had got something right.

I also taught the junior nursery class which is for 4-6 years old.  We were teaching them English, focusing on a different topic each week, such as clothing and food. At the beginning of the lesson each child would come up and introduce themselves to us in English, answering questions such as how are you, what is your name, where do you come from and how old are you. Most of the children did this very well which was impressive seeing as how young they were. We also sang some songs such as “head, shoulders, knees and toes” and “5 little monkeys” which the children especially loved with the actions we taught them alongside each song.

We had our weekends off when we were there and there were many trips available for us to do. I was lucky enough to do a 2 day safari and visit the waterfalls there. Also, some days all the volunteers would go out for dinner in town together which was lovely, and explore Moshi’s a bit more – and of course do some shopping!! This free time, outside of teaching, was a great chance to get to know the other volunteers better and by the end of it we were all very close.  It was hard to have to say bye to them and the others in the community we had got to know even after just two weeks! I was also lucky enough to be there whilst the project was celebrating being in Moshi for 1 year.  There were lots of events on for us to be involved in. We got to see traditional African dancing one night and even the Masai put on a demonstration of their jumping for us: it was amazing.

Overall I had a fantastic time volunteering in Tanzania and would definitely have gone for longer if I could have – I’m already tempted to go back next summer! It was an amazing experience, and I met so many lovely people when I was out there too.  Everyone was so welcoming and grateful for us being there and it was great to see the difference we were making in the community. I would definitely encourage everyone and anyone who is considering something like this to go visit Moshi!