Volunteering in Tanzania
I was in Tanzania, Africa for a total of three months, working as an international volunteer with Cross-Cultural Solutions. My job was to work side by side with local people to help support sustainable
community-led projects. My work was with children ages two to seven, teaching basic English and math. Of the 35 kids, approximately half of them had HIV and a number were children whose parents had died from AIDS.
I was put in charge of five of the kids—Rehear, Amani, Irene, Jacob, and Lujiso. I set myself a goal that by the end of my three months, they would know the whole alphabet and be able to count to 10 in English,
and it was a mission accomplished.
The resources at the school, although good for Tanzania, were fairly bad by our Western standards, so anything you bring for the kids is welcomed with loud screaming and mass hysteria. I handed them out crayons and
then turned round for a second to get the coloring book. I turned back round—crayons gone. Okay, some of the kids have a tendency to put things in there pockets, so politely and in my best Swahili I asked them to stand up and empty
their pockets. They did, and to my surprise, nothing. Again, in my best Swahili I apologized and asked where are the crayons? Then they all smiled. There was a red smile, a blue smile, an orange smile, a green smile, and a gold smile.
Crayon mystery solved.
For More Info
Cross-Cultural Solutions offers
three types of programs: Volunteer Abroad, Intern Abroad,
Gap Year Abroad, High School Volunters, and Group Programs. Programs are available in
Costa Rica, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, India, Morocco, Peru, Tanzania, and Thailand.
Contact: Cross-Cultural Solutions Headquarters,
2 Clinton Pl., New Rochelle, NY 10801; Tel. 800-380-4777; firstname.lastname@example.org, www.crossculturalsolutions.org.
Ben Gerrish is 19 years old and lives in Manchester U.K. After graduating from high school in 2004, Ben took a gap year, during which time he volunteered for Cross-Cultural Solutions in Tanzania
and again in Bangkok, Thailand. He is now studying human rights and politics at Kingston University in London.