Since starting this blog and sharing stories of my time as a volunteer at Newlands School & Orphanage, I’ve had a number of readers ask questions about volunteering and what you can expect from it. So I thought, why not share a photo diary of what a typical day as a volunteer was like! While all day-to-day tasks and experiences can vary from project to project, I hope this gives some insight to those who are thinking about volunteering at a local school in Tanzania.
So what was a typical day like as a volunteer?
7.15am to 7.45am
After breakfast we’d walk for around 30 minutes through the hustle and bustle of Moshi town to catch the dala dala (a public minibus) to Newlands village.
8.00am to 8.45am
We’d often have to wait around for a while before the dala dala was full to the brim (quite literally) with passengers and the journey itself could take up to 45 minutes, depending on how many stops it made along the way to pick up locals going to work. But with views like this, I never complained!
But there was the odd occasion where we’d be feeling a bit more adventurous and take a boda boda (motorcylce taxi) instead! Especially if we were in a hurry or had missed the dala dala!
8.45am to 9.15am
The children absolutely loved to sing and dance and we’d often start the day with singing various nursery rhymes in both English and Swahili to get them all psyched up for the day ahead. The whole class would erupt into loud chanting – it amazed me just how much boundless energy these kids seemed to have an a daily basis!
9.15am to 11.30am
The rest of the day was usually made up of basic English, Maths and Swahili lessons. Most of the time we would assist with helping the children and marking their work, but from time to time we’d also get the opportunity to teach the class….much to the amusement of the children!
11.30am – 12.00pm
Before the end of the school day, we would head over to the orphanage next door to collect a big bucket of porridge for the children’s lunch. All the children would then gather in one of the classrooms for the school register and prayer time, while we served up the porridge in plastic cups.
School is finished for the day, but not before multiple high-fives and hugs from the children before they tootle themselves off home!
12.00pm – 12.30pm
Next it was time to clear up the mess they’d left behind! We’d usually divide up tasks between us – some would clean the porridge cups while the others would clean the classrooms – usually with a few little helpers who liked to stay behind!
12.30pm – 1.30pm
Once we were finished at the school, some days we would pop over to the orphanage to help the staff prepare dinner for the children. This usually involved cutting up fresh vegetables sourced from the village itself, while singing along to our favourite African songs. Other days we would maybe help out with the laundry – and with 65 children’s clothes to wash…this would keep us busy! If there wasn’t much for us to do, we’d usually still hang around and spend time playing games with the children.
Home time! Usually some of the children from the school and orphanage would walk with us to the dala dala stop to await the bus home. There’s no such thing as timetables here, so sometimes we’d be waiting around for a while before the dala dala showed up. But I didn’t mind so much, as it meant we got to spend more time chatting away to the children and some of the locals as they passed by.
Are you interested in volunteering abroad? Be sure to have a think about the skills you have and what you can offer to a project before deciding what to do. If you’re prepared to work hard and give it your all, volunteering experiences can be incredibly rewarding for both you and the organisation you decide to help.
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