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. Each lesson we would introduce about 4 new object names on the topic of that week and we would run through each word a few times until they were able to repeat it back. Then, we would play some competitive games to make sure the children fully understood what the words were in English.
During each class, the children that had been good had their names put in the special nani ni nzuri sana box (who has been good). At the end of each week we would pick out a name and that child would get a special prize. At the end of the class we would go outside and join the other baby and senior nursery classes and play duck, duck, goose and do some more singing and dancing (which the children were definitely better at than us adults!) before it was time to say goodbye.
During our afternoons, some volunteers would go to a local secondary school to teach about HIV or business, and some of us helped paint a new nursery building. It felt so rewarding to see the progression we’d made with it over the time we were there.
Throughout my time in Moshi, I was also able to go visit the Wazee twice which is the old people’s home. They were always so happy to see us and have conversations with us about our time here (with the help of one of our translators of course!). On our first visit, we brought them bananas, which they were all very grateful for, and we spent some time playing games with them like Connect 4 and Dominoes.
On our second visit, we were able to build a food garden for them at the back of the home which they would be able to use as their own. They were all given an individual vegetable bucket to grow in their rooms as well with things such as spinach and tomatoes.
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!