Photo Diary – A Day in the Life of a Volunteer in Tanzania

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!

Newlands School
Newlands School
Newlands School
Newlands School
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.

 Porridge Time Porridge


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!

Our little helper

Cleaning the classroom in Newlands School

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.

Newlands School

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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  • Reply
    October 18, 2015 at 7:54 pm

    Awesome post! I’ve been thinking about volunteering for a while, just don’t know how to get started or even how to begin financing myself there! The children are so adorable though, those photos warmed my heart – thanks for sharing 🙂

  • Reply
    October 18, 2015 at 7:56 pm

    Reblogged this on onetravelbag and commented:
    Interested in becoming a volunteer in a foreign country, but don’t know what to expect? I love this visual yet descriptive post from Nikki aka WhereIsNoodles.

    Thanks for reading (:

    • Reply
      October 19, 2015 at 9:35 am

      Thanks for the reblog! I can understand what you mean about financing, but there are some affordable options out there. I researched around quite a bit beforehand and came across Hostel Hoff who I can fully recommend. The volunteer experience is free – all you pay for is your accommodation 🙂

  • Reply
    October 18, 2015 at 10:44 pm

    Great post, it sounds like a really interesting and cultural experience! I’m not good with kids so I’m hesitant about volunteering in a school, but I would like to incorporate a volunteering project in my next trip, so will definitely give it some more consideration! 🙂

    • Reply
      October 19, 2015 at 6:25 pm

      Thanks Gemma! It was definitely a rewarding experience! Still think about my time there every day ????

  • Reply
    October 21, 2015 at 8:21 pm

    I love the post! You have an amazing blog:)
    What about following each other on Instagram, Bloglovin, Twitter? Let me know:)

  • Reply
    November 3, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    Just beautiful. Volunteering is an amazing experience, often challenging but oh so rewarding. Well done!

  • Reply
    November 3, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    Just beautiful! Volunteering is such an amazing experience, often challenging but oh so rewarding. Well done!

  • Reply
    Not a gypsy...
    November 7, 2015 at 7:21 am

    This is exactly how I’m considering spending next Summer… Your post just excited me a million times over!

    • Reply
      November 7, 2015 at 7:43 am

      I can’t recommend it highly enough. If you have any questions just let me know ????

      • Reply
        Not a gypsy...
        November 7, 2015 at 11:01 am

        Thank you! …I will do a bit more research then get back to you. 🙂

  • Reply
    December 17, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    Thank you for volunteering! On a lighter note- I love the elephant pants:) My teenage girls were upset that I didn’t get them any in Tanzania- I had no idea they would wear them! I bought leopard print ones for me:)

  • Reply
    January 13, 2016 at 11:40 pm

    Yep, sounds like a classic volunteering day to me, right down to the kids living singing and taking the boda boda 🙂

  • Reply
    7 MORE Spirited Solo Female Travelers To Follow - Eva Explores
    June 3, 2016 at 2:56 pm

    […] her way from Great Britain to Africa, the USA to Oceania, and back to Africa. Tanzania, where she volunteered for 7 weeks, holds a special place in her heart. Now she’s back in England, trying not to become a travel […]

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