Lottie went volunteering in Tanzania with Camps International on her Gap Year, and below she has shared her memories. Lottie with a happy helper Leaving my parents at Heathrow airport was potentially the scariest moment of my life as I had never been properly away from home before, but I was finally on my way [...]
It’s the end of the year and our gap year volunteer program in Tanzania comes to an end (but not for long!). It’s been a year of tremendous achievement for the little village of Mwambani in Tanga. We have finished so much and set our targets for next year including setting up a little community centre in the heart of the little village. Asante Sana to everyone that worked so hard to make such a difference to this little community…
So we’ve come to our final week in Tanzania and it’s time to say goodbye to each other and all the friends we’ve made here in Tanzania. We’ve already said goodbye to three of our gappers; Rose who’s gone off to Zambia, Josie who’s returned home to the UK and Laura who’s currently climbing Mt. Meru.
We’ve been very busy over our last few weeks; mountains have been climbed, choos (toilets) have been built, the nursery has been roofed and we took a trip to the Usambara Mountains!
Chloe Therese and Josie finished Mt. Kilimanjaro in 7 days and made it right to the top. Very tough but very rewarding!
Hugh climbed a coconut tree.
The jiggers have hit Mwambani Village with Steven and Matty being the first victims.
Amelia, Will, Maud and Therese had a week in Zanzibar.
We all took a trip to Usambara in the mountains for 4 nights and 4 days. We had a great time and the weather stayed beautiful right up until the last day and then the heavens literally opened on us. The tents we were staying in got flooded and our stuff got soaked. We stayed at Emau Hill and it was very self sustaining, with no electricity only solar power, no running water, bucket showers and composting toilets. Whilst there we helped out with a few local projects, putting a roof on the school staff room, painting offices, local road maintenance and working with the Amani womens craft group. We really enjoyed helping out in the workshop with the local women, stuffing toys, sewing on the old school machines and cutting fabric. All profits from the items sold goes to funding the workshop and benefits local women of Amani. Steven is definitely an inspiration.
We went to a football game, Tanga Vs. Dar Es Salaam. We all got into the sporting spirit and made it onto the local radio ‘mzungus (white people) in yellow shirts getting rowdy on the sidelines’.
We also held our own match against the villagers of Mwambani. We didn’t win, but we didn’t lose either; it was a draw and we played very well considering none of us play professionally!
Today we handed over the last house to Mama Saum. It was very emotional, but great to see how happy Mama was and all our hard work paying off! We had a big celebration and many villagers came along as we passed the house over. Mama gave a speech to us saying how much she appreciated the work we’ve helped with and how happy she and the family are.
It’s also our last day in Tanga today; tomorrow we are travelling to Moshi and we will then be leaving for our homes. We had a small celebration at Mama Dahabu’s house with Mama Dula. Together they prepared us some African food and we all sat in the garden with many of the villagers. After eating we all had a dance and a sing and laughed a lot. The people in the village have been so lovely and welcoming and it was very sad when it was time to say goodbye.
Our journey in Tanzania is now coming to an end and we’ve had the most amazing time and have literally thousands of photos to take home with us. We’ve all become so close and as Eliphas said, we are like a family now. It is very emotional in camp and saying goodbye will be very hard, but we already have plans to meet up once back home. A big thank you to Anderson, our camp manager, Eliphas, our project leader, Donald, our chef who cooks us gourmet meals, Ashura, not only our bar lady but our friend as well and of course the Mamas, who have looked after us so well.
They have all been amazing and our stay in Tanzania would not have been the same without them!
Jambo from Tanzania!
We had two birthdays in the same week (Josie and Kaitlyn) in September so we had celebrations and cake in camp. At the weekend the American family, that lives next door, took us out on their boat to snorkel and a trip to the sandbank. We saw puff fish, lobster, blue starfish and ‘Dory’ fish (not sure of the actual name)! It was amazing. Then we were off to the sandbank that only emerges when the tide goes down – it was stunning with its white sand and clear blue waters!
The week after we were machetting one of the houses in preparation to render, as well as digging the rendering sand – it’s hard work digging in the sun but all worth it in the end. We also began rendering the first house, which was something new to learn!! Wednesday night one of the girl’s tents (Laura, Alix, Chloe and Josie) woke up with ants in their bed in the middle of the night so ended up sleeping on the sofas – all part of the African experience. For the rest of that week we carried on rendering, trying to perfect each wall as best we could but Eliphas is always there to help us and do an annoyingly good job!
The Friday of that week our group had organized to go to Zanzibar for 5 days. We’d checked in advance if we could get a few days off project and as we’re here for 3 months and we’d worked for 1 month so they were happy to let us go and explore. It was an early start catching the 6am bus to Dar and then a ferry to Stone town. It was an amazing few days and our hotel in Nungwi was right on the beach. It was great to explore somewhere new and relax for a few days. We bartered in the local markets and bought lots of different souvenirs.
When we got back the new group had arrived so we got to introduce ourselves and then got some rest before we went back to project. At the weekend we were invited to the local primary schools graduation ceremony. It was a great! The kids performed a sketch, some rapped and we also got to see the school choir. One of the teachers made a speech and thanked Camps International and past groups for the work they’ve done at school.
After the School function, it was back to work once again. One of the houses was completely rendered so this week we have been white washing and it’s now ready to hand over to the Mama tomorrow afternoon! The other house still has some walls to be rendered on the outside but should be finished by the 1 monthers by the time we’re back from Kenya. We leave for Kenya for 2 weeks this Saturday with the 2 monthers from the new group to meet the Kenyan group, then we go to Tsavo to take part in wildlife conservation projects and go on our Safari! Yay! Everyone is so excited for Kenya.
If you want to know about how you can take a gap year abroad in Tanzania feel free to give us a call now on +44 1425 485390 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Throughout all our education projects globally, the ultimate goal is to improve the overall standards and performance of the students in the schools. That’s not easy but we believe it can be done and we have a lot of successful stories to prove it as long as there is a long term sustainable commitment from us as well as the management and community stakeholders. With the recent launch of the Mantanani Community Learning Centre, we have a lot to shout about.
In Tanzania, we were really really proud to receive the letter below from one of the schools that we have been working with over the past two years. Not only do the students have fairly decent classrooms, adequate toilet facilities thanks to everyone’s hard work but the best part of this is that performance in the school has dramatically improved and in last year’s National Exams, Mwakadilia School came first out of 40 schools in its District!
Work hard and play hard. We love our Gap in Tanzania Program!
The first night we spent in a hotel near Kilimanjaro airport. We all met up the next day and started our long drive down to Tanga. The views on the journey were amazing but a good few hours were spent sleeping. We got to camp bleary eyed 8 hours later and were warmly welcomed by Anderson and the SDX group. Early nights all round!
Jambo! After our first week I think it’s fair to say it hasn’t been easy, but it has been rewarding. We started off digging to gather sand in order to make mud for 2 houses, which we hope to complete by the end of our placement. After 5 days of shoveling, bagging sand, pick axing and using a machete to clear the foliage we’re now ready to start turning sand into mud, ready to make the outer layer of the first house. We had to use what the locals call a wheelbarrow (basically a pickup truck with no engine) which ran over Laura’s foot and Kaitlyn was hit with a fish (?!).
We’ve also been running a teaching program in the afternoons, helping to develop the English skills of some of the local villagers. They are all eager to learn, testing the knowledge of the teachers!!
It hasn’t all been hard work; the camp site is located on the coast line giving us one of the most extraordinary views of the ocean, visible from the first step out of the tents. Our camp cook, Donald, is now our best friend; his cooking skills are amazing, especially cooking for twenty people, three times a day. We had our first African clubbing experience Saturday night; we got home at 3am in very jolly spirits! Every weekend we venture into town to walk around the markets and try our hands at haggling with the locals – we probably need a bit more practice though. Lizzie was chased by a cow. We’re all slowly becoming fluent in Kiswahili, and have learnt a few cheeky words, thanks to the locals
We’re excited to be blogging here from camp and will keep you all posted, with photos to follow! For now though it’s our bedtime as we have to be up bright and early for work tomorrow!
Lala Saalama! (Sleep tight!)
After collecting the sand we used it to make matope (mud)! We did this by making a crater in the middle of the pile, adding water and then stomping around in it to mix it up – who needs a cement mixer when you have 12 pairs of feet! Josie has been the camp jukebox, she has quite a cheesy taste in tunes! Matty and Rose (aka the Dutchies) are human machines – we couldn’t do it without them. The rest of the week was spent throwing mud at the walls of the house.
After a stress ridden week with no clothes, Chloe’s luggage finally arrived on Monday! She now how has clean underwear YAY!
Tuesday night was quiz night and two groups went head to head, with Lizzie and Davina acting as the buzzers. It was great fun but it wasn’t your usual pub quiz and the general knowledge round had everyone stumped.
Thursday afternoon we took the time off work and went down to the local school to play a game of volleyball against the SDX group – it was their last week and the sports day they had all been working towards. WE WONNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN!! Good hustle guys! D+J were born.
Friday night was a ‘bad taste’ themed fancy dress party for the SDX’s last night! We had fun rummaging around the local market to find some hideous dresses! On the night we had a fashion catwalk – Kaitlyn in her Christmas themed waistcoat came 3rd and a cross dressing Steven came 2nd! Hugh made a memorable appearance in his Little Miss Giggles undies!!
We went to the local resort on Sunday for an afternoon’s relaxation and a swim in the river. It was deeper than we all thought and Josie ended up spluttering around due to Davina jumping on her back!
We have just completed our first Sports Development Expedition in Tanzania which has gone very well. Big thanks to the team who laid the foundation for many more sports coaching programs to come…
August 20th -September 19th
Seven of us arrived at the Keys Hotel in Moshi and traveled together to Camp Tanga the following day to begin our experience. Once we arrived, we were briefed on the month ahead and introduced to the local village, Mwambani and Tanga town.
Our first task was to build a netball court for one of the local schools where we would be hosting a sporting competition and coaching different sports including football, volleyball and netball. Building the court was harder than expected as we were using tools that we had never used before, leveling out the court, digging up the grass and shoveling the mud but seeing the final court at the end was a proud moment. We were then split into groups and taught theory of the three different sports to two different classes within the school as well as practical lessons and putting together school teams for the final competition against another local school in which we did the same.
The kids loved the sport and picked up the skills and techniques fast; the only difficulty was the language barrier and was overcome by our project coordinator and friend Eliphas translating and also, the use of demonstrations. We all worked well as a group and planned the practical and theory sessions the night before all together. The freedom given to us to plan our own sessions allowed us to adapt each session according to the progression of the children in each sport. We were amazed at how much the kids had picked up in our coaching sessions when put in a game situation, which brought us ever closer to the competition we planned to run at the end of our month.
On competition day, we organized to have the chosen schools’ sports teams compete against each other for sports equipment, which we funded, as rewards. We will be refereeing football, netball and volleyball matches, as well as playing a friendly volleyball game against the other gap year students staying at Camp Tanzania, for entertainment for the kids.
However, it wasn’t all work and no play. We kept ourselves entertained by going to the beach which is 3 minutes away, interacting with the locals and their traditions, taking trips into town at the weekends where we could contact home via internet, stock up on goodies at the local supermarket, bank as well as enjoy the markets’ many stalls, but our most enjoyable nights were the Saturday nights where we would go to “La casa chica” the local club and boogie to the unique and unforgettable African Macarena. Our free time was a great opportunity to spend quality time with our camp managers and staff who accompanied us on our many outings and we soon became close marafiki (friends!).
We all feel that this experience was life-changing and a real eye opener, as well as making amazing friends on the way, we come to the end of our trip, feeling sad that we are leaving but happy to have started an ongoing project in this community.
Asante Camps International!
From Sandra, Sarah, Katie, Ellie, Becky, Matt & Aaron.
Treena was a Gap year volunteer with us in Tanzania and she has very kindly sent us a blog with some great photos. Thanks Treena!!
Upon booking my trip to Tanzania, I felt a surge of excitement as I knew I was about to embark on one of the most incredible journeys of my life. However, as the trip drew nearer and nearer, the feelings of exhilaration were swapped for tummy-turning nerves. The prospect of spending one whole month, in a different country, with people whom I’d never even met, was daunting to say the least. So it was with shaky hands, and a high heart rate that I arrived at the airport.
The buzz of the other volunteers was contagious though, and my nerves slowly began to dissolve. Nevertheless, I have always had a shy personality and didn’t feel confident enough to approach the others. Luckily, when I did meet them, I realised just how lovely they were. This instantly caused my nerves to subside.
We spent the airport wait and the drive to camp getting to know each other, and by the time we arrived, it felt as though we had always known each other. Our first project involved building a kitchen for the “mamas” of the village. We had to get our hands dirty, and throw the mud onto the outside walls – it was so much fun! A specific highlight of the trip for me personally was not only completing the kitchen (and feeling an overwhelming sense of accomplishment) but being able to hand over the kitchen to the women; it was hugs, pictures and smiles all around.
Another highlight of my trip was the safari. It was by far the most astounding experience of my life. The sight of elephants, zebras and giraffes together at the waterhole was truly breath-taking. My absolute favourite part was seeing the prides of lionesses so close!
Still, my favourite part of being a gap year volunteer with Camps International, is the sense of community I was able to experience. I had the privilege of actually knowing the locals, rather than merely being another tourist. Seeing how little they had, yet how much they appreciated was heart-warming, put into perspective the importance of “needs” as opposed to “wants”.
Returning to the cold and gloomy days of England hasn’t been particularly easy. However, I have not only been left with post-Africa blues; I have also gained a newfound confidence. I’ve learned just how quick you can adapt to different surroundings, and how much fun it is to immerse yourself into a different culture. I know that this confidence will help me next year, when I leave for university. I’m so glad that I went on this expedition; it has allowed me to not only learn a lot about the African culture, but also a lot about myself.
This really made me “tabasamu” Tanzania! (thank you Georgia Leonard!)
And also just received a first hand account from our gappers in Tanga so big thanks to everyone who keeps us all smiling….
Life in Camp Tanzania has been tiring yet rewarding as we complete various projects.
Our first task was to complete the kitchen for the mamas of the village. Work on the kitchen had already begun so when we stepped into our jobs finishing the construction of the wall, which involved mixing the mud using our bare feet and throwing it at the wall – dirty work but a lot of fun! We then had to plaster and paint the kitchen while others assisted the mamas with weaving to make makutis for the roof, with help from the village children. We personally handed the kitchen over to the mamas with the inscription mtaji wamasikini nguvuzake mwenyewe kazaro ufike – “poverty is dependant on how hard you work” and an English inscription Service with a smile.
We completed the kitchen at the beginning of the second week and after a lot of celebration we moved onto the main project of constructing a nursery for the local children. This was back breaking, blister making, mentally and physically exhausting work but support from the volunteers and locals alike helped us along.
But it wasn’t all hard work! Camp life has been lively, eventful and especially memorable. We were lucky enough to attend an African wedding which was a magical, festive experience full of fun, laughter and lots of African dancing! We also got to enjoy a relaxing weekend at Peponi beach resort. Once the boys finally managed to pitch their tents with help from the girls we were free to swim in the pool, stroll along the beach and eat pizzas (a rarity in Camp Tanzania!). We also all got the chance to go snorkelling and travel on a traditional African boat to an isolated sand bank, despite a bit of sea sickness we all enjoyed the experience!
Weekends were much anticipated to stock up on our weekly chocolate fix at the local supermarket and use the internet to contact family and friends. We also got a taste of the African nightlife at a Tanga nightclub. The boys got involved in football matches against the villagers and we all took advantage of the beachfront location to soak up the sun and sea!
We are now beginning our final week of project work with the added bonus of partaking in traditional village work and are very excited about our two day safari to round off our trip. We’ve had an unforgettable experience and have plenty of stories to share with our family and friends.
From everyone here -
Amy, Line, Lotte, Thomas, Issy, Kayleigh, Treena, Hannah, Tall Ben, Small Ben, Sarah, Sebastian, Bruce and Konstantine
Win £100 Cotswold Outdoor Vouchers! May Prize Draw.
If you’re looking to book your expedition with Camps International this month we have a fantastic prize draw on offer for anyone who confirms their place by the end of the month.
Book any Life or Gap trip with Camps International this month to be in with a chance to win £100 Cotswold Outdoor gift vouchers!
Save yourself £100 of essential travel equipment. Just choose your Gap or Life destination and book before the end of May 2012 (5pm GMT on 31st May 2012) to be included in the draw.
As usual with our monthly prize draws, we will choose the winner from a hat and post the video on our Facebook page so that you can see the draw. The prize draw will be held on the 1st June 2012.
So what are you waiting for? Enquire now to find out more about the trips available to you, or book online now! You can also give us a call on 0844 800 1127 to have a chat with one of the team. This prize draw only applies to new Gap and Life bookings made during April 2012.
I know we have been a bit quiet on the Tanzania front but that certainly doesn’t mean we have not been as busy as ever. Anderson, Eliphas and the Camp Tanzania team have been running the show in Tanga while Tommie has come back to Kenya to support the overall operations in East Africa. So here’s the story straight from the camp and what our gappers have been up to…in Tanzanian village.
This year we kicked off with construction of a nursery School in Mwambani, Tanzanian village where Camp Tanga is located. The village comittee in Mwambani has really been asking for support as the closest school is a 6km walk to school. Imagine doing that every day at our age let alone when you are 4-6yrs old. Most of the kids here in Mwambani village as you can imagine end up staying at home until they are old enough to go to primary school and therefore have no educational foundation when they start. There was no question that we should help support to put up a nursery school and once a plot of land was identified and kindly donated by one of the villagers, we got cracking. We have had an amazing group of very hard working gappers so progress is well underway
And of course we haven’t just been building; ongoing support the mamas who depend on their seaweed harvest is such a critical component of our support. Increasing the harvest, simply means a little bit more money for one woman to support her family….
For us one of the most important aspects of our program is to be able to share our Tanzanian hospitality with visitors. The villagers love to show and share whatever little they have so we often so we often spend a bit of time learning how to make local Mwambani food such as chapatis, vishet (made with wheat flower) and vibibi (made with rice flower). The afternoons are often spent sitting outside with one of the mamas in the village learning to make natural roof thatching from coconut leaves and helping to increase her production as well.
A small helping hand goes a long way. Women in most rural places in Africa spend a fair portion of their day either fetching water or firewood for cooking so simple tasks where we can help reduce the daily burden for a woman goes a long way too and its also a great way to get to know people. Of course, the men have the pleasure of harvesting coconuts so we make sure we get a chance to scuttle up the trees with them too! After all this is the real Tanzania!
And we can’t let the Gappers go without getting to know the local cows really well. Before we go to the bush we wake up in the morning and milk the cows. It’s actually really fun and honestly, you can see the cow smile after she has been milked! After milking we take the cows out for grazing, herding them and learning how the Maasai walk with the cows. This takes roughly two hours. Out lot here decided to go the Full Monty Maasai!
And we have discovered that we also have so much to offer by simply setting up a chalkboard underneath a mango tree. Adult illiteracy is very prevalent in the village so we have found that a lot of young and old adults are really keen to learn how to read and write…
Not so far from our main camp are the Usambara Mountains which we know for a fact are one of the most spectacular range of mountains in the world. Look them up for yourself on the internet. Our three month volunteers get a chance to stay at Camp Emau for five days where we help to support various projects run by the Amani Women’s Group. We join this group of dynamo women making little African dolls and get a chance to learn how to sew. As the camp is in the heart of the Amani Forest Reserve, there are some spectacular nature walks and so much to learn from the guides at Camp Emau.
That’s all for now and looking forward to having many more volunteers join us at Camp Tanzania!
Anderson and Eliphas