Tanzania student volunteering

Tanzania student volunteeringTanzania! My African Diaries – a volunteer program

I was very excited when I was chosen to represent my college volunteer society in an overseas volunteer project to Tanzania. It’s a thrill going somewhere far away from the Irish travelling norm. I was teamed up with 5 other students from the college and we prepared for the journey. We also had a team leader, a college representative joining us on the trip.

Tanzania Preparation

involved fundraising for the charity which we would be forking for in Tanzania. We were all blown away by the generosity of friends and family in our local experience.

Tanzania student volunteering

Day 1, Dublin airport

We arrived in Dublin airport and it was one of the first chances the group of volunteers got to know each other. We had only met a couple of times prior to our adventure. I was happy to find that everyone in the group was sound as a pound and I was looking forward to getting to know this new group of people better over the next few weeks.

Travelling to this Tanzania was very intense. Planes bus’s taxi’s more buses and a couple of days my fellow volunteers and I finally arrived in Twa Twa Twa village, Parakuyo, Morogoro, Tanzania.

Tanzania student volunteering



Twa Twa Twa village

The village is resident to people of the Masai tribe. We found the locals to be very kind and welcoming. “karibu sana” was a phrase we became very accustomed to. The Swahili for very welcome.Tanzania student volunteering

Twa Twa Twa is a wonderful place. It is so remote that there is barely a road going in and out of it. The focal point of the village was the church, where there would be singing and dancing going on until the small hours of the morning. There are also primary and secondary schools and a cluster of small shops in the heart of the village. We stayed in a basic guest house. Nothing but a bed covered by a mosquito net in our rooms. This did us just fine. we weren’t there for luxury. We were there to get work done! The seven Irish volunteers where then teamed up with group of Tanzanian volunteers and we all lived together in the house. 

The Work

Tanzania student volunteering
Our working days consisted of various activities. Renovating the local primary school and teaching the students different subjects in the secondary school. We brought with us paints and man power to paint up the primary school. The children were fascinated with us. For most of them we were the first white people they have ever seen. In the secondary school we taught classes. We gave our two cents worth in what we were good at and taught subjects we did well in from our own secondary school days. The students study their curriculum through English so they benefited from having English speaking teachers. Towards the end of our time we donated a dell computer to the school for the students to use. They were very grateful and the students were delighted now to have the opportunity to learn to use a computer. tanzania6



Learning Experience

Our time in Twa Twa Twa was also spent integrating within society and spending time with the locals. This involved the likes of going to the market, popping to the local bar for a beer, going to Sunday mass. In order to do this we had to learn some Swahili. This was made possible by our good friend, and local priest, Ibrahim.  Learning the language facilitated some form of communication which helped us to get to know the local people.  tanzania7

There was also a huge educational factor for us and the locals. The elders of society were able to talk to us about masai culture and teach us about their strongly held values and beliefs. They were also very interested in learning about Irish culture and the differences in society norms between one culture and another. For example, some could not get over the fact that, at the age of 22, I still was not married and the concept of monogamy was very foreign to them.



Tanzania Tribal Ceremony


We were very lucky to be invited to the Masai “coming of age” ceremony for a group of boys who were being initiated into society as men. It was a great experience to be part of and one of the highlights of the trip because it was such a diverse cultural and traditional event. Basically what goes on is the young men are circumcised prior to the celebration. tanzania9All the men within the community do be sitting around the woods eating and drinking, they invited us up for some food and a Pepsi. Meanwhile, the woman within the community are down at the houses singing and dancing to wish the young men prosperity and good fortune in their new life as men. We joined them for a song and dance. After this event the young men are now free to choose a wife and get married. The young men arrive and everyone gathers and they all have another big song and dance. 


Masai BBQ


Another cultural experience we got to take part in was a part the Masai threw for us on out last night. They killed a cow for us to BBQ and eat as a way of thanking us. For the party we all dressed up in Masai traditional dress.

Towards the end of my time in Twa Twa Twa and the rest of Tanzania. I reflected on my time spent there. It was one of the best experiences of my life to date. I formed friendships with the Irish who I traveled with and also the Tanzanian volunteers along with the Twa Twa Twa locals. I had learned so much about cultural diversity and the Masai tribe. I had a great sense of achievement and felt like I was giving back and doing some good in the world through the work in the schools. I really loved it.tanzania11

Our work was completed, the primary school was looking spic and span and the students in the secondary school seemed to have benefited from and enjoyed the classes we gave. It was time to move on from Twa Twa Twa.  We spent the next week on the road and travelling through Tanzania to see some of the sights. http://www.maasai-association.org/maasai.html


Tanzania Safari


Our first stop was Mikumi national park. We were setting off on an African safari. The park was stunning. From what I heard from other travelers we chose a great location to set off on safari because other parks seemed to be pretty over packed with safari vehicles stacked up in traffic. In Mikumi we rarely bumped into another safari car on the way around. This gave us a better experience of being out in the wild on safari in Africa. The sun setting over Mikimi was a very beautiful sight. We spent one day on a game drive and then returned to our “luxury tented accommodation” for a night spent by a bonfire. We then set back out on a second game drive the next day. We saw many wonderful animals in their natural habitat in the wild. My personal favorites were the giraffe, hippopotamus, warthog and baboons, amongst others.

tanzania15After our safari experience we made our way to the capital of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam. We found a bed for the night in the YMCA. You couldn’t find a nicer place for the equivalent of about a 5er a night. But I personally didn’t have a great experience in Dar es Salaam. We didn’t get up to much that night. We got a taxi out to a place the lonely planet told us we would get a beer. But we soon as hoped in another taxi straight back to the YMCA I don’t think it is the safest of places for travellers at night.



The next morning we hoped on a ferry. Destination Zanzibar!! We spent our first stop was the capital of the island, Stonetown. I loved Stonetown. It has a great African feel. One member of the group got chatting to and befriended a local man. This was great because he then showed us around the place and told us things we wouldn’t have otherwise known. He brought us to some interesting places including the Zanzibar slave chambers and the town market. It was fascinating wondering through the narrow streets and alleyways. We stayed in a very nice, very reasonably priced, hostel called Jambo brothers. 




The next morning we set off for Kendwa Rocks. A tropical beach resort in the north of the island. It did not take long to get there and we say some interesting small towns on the way. We stayed there for 3 nights and it was a perfect way to round off the trip. We spent our time swimming in the Indian ocean and lying out on the beach. We also went on a snorkeling trip to a corral reef followed by a BBQ on a tropical paradise beach. That was splendid. We met some very interesting people in our time Kendwa rocks and there was a great beach bar to hang out and chat at night time. On our last night we went for one last swim as the sun was setting. I really love Zanzibar.tanzania18


We spent one last night in Dar es Salaam before we begun the journey home to Ireland. I had many great experiences in Tanzania and came home with very fond memories. The whole volunteer and work abroad thing is something I will most defiantly partake in again. As a 22 year old fresh out of college it was a great experience for growth and learning. I gained so much more from this experience than I would have if I had just gone on a travelling holiday to Tanzania. It opened my eyes to a lot and I learned so much form living and working directly with people in Tanzania. 



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About Sandra

Just a girl from Ireland who wants to live everywhere. Not a planner, a winger when it comes to travel. I don't even like people who plan too much. Without spontaneity there is no depth. A jack of all trades. A great friend, loyal and passionate and I expect the same in return. Always ready for the next adventure at a moments notice.
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