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We are so pleased to welcome our first Venturer from Raleigh Japan to Raleigh Tanzania. Shohei has been with us for the last six weeks – trekking through Iringa Region as part of our Youth Leadership programme, and promoting reforestation and sustainable use of forests in Lulanda Village as part of our Natural Resource Management project.

We caught up with Shohei on trek to ask him about his experience volunteering with Raleigh Tanzania. Scroll down for the full interview..!

Hi Shohei, and karibu (welcome to) Raleigh Tanzania! Can you tell us a little about your background, and what brought you to Raleigh?

“I grew up near Tokyo and participated in a school programme where students from the U.S came over to stay with us for two weeks. The experience really opened my eyes to international affairs and I started looking in to studying abroad. I ended up studying in Sweden as part of a one year exchange programme, and one of my professors recommended Raleigh to me. She volunteered with them in Australia when she was younger, and thought I would really enjoy it. Tanzania was my first choice because I thought there would be more opportunities to communicate with the locals, and also because I thought it was one of the only Raleigh locations which would be more difficult to visit as a tourist”.

You took part in a Natural Resource Management in Phase One. Please can you tell us what this project involved, and why it was needed?

“The project took place in Lulanda village in the southern Highlands of Tanzania. In Lulanda people depend on the surrounding forest as a source of income, and for their livelihoods. During the project Alpha Three, my group, worked alongside the Tanzania Forest Conservation Group (TFCG) to increase awareness of deforestation and try to reverse the effects of deforestation. Our project had three aspects: building a tree nursery containing 30,000 tree saplings, creating a forest line to prevent forest fires spreading, and teaching children at the local school about environmental protection.”


Shohei, centre, helping lay the foundations for the tree nursery in Lulanda

What has been your best moment on expedition?

“My favourite moment so far has been the Action Day we held in Lulanda in Phase One. We put on a mini-olympics, a dance performance and much more. There was an amazing turnout, with around 70 – 80 participants from the local community and Alpha Three. The atmosphere was fantastic too, and everyone genuinely enjoyed what we’d planned. I felt it really unified our group.”

And most challenging…?

“I’ve found it challenging being away from my own country, and at times I’ve found it difficult not being able to speak my mother tongue (English is my second language). Sometimes I find it difficult to sit and be present, and just appreciate where I am and what we’re achieving with Raleigh. That’s something I want to work on.”

What are the main things you have learned, or taken away from your experience so far?

“I’ve learned a lot about myself whilst I’ve been volunteering with Raleigh Tanzania, and have found myself in many situations I’ve never experienced in my life. It’s made me think of all the small things I take for granted at home. Tanzanians focus on positivity, and are really good at having fun in the moment and that’s something I’m definitely going to try to take home with me”.


Ruan and Shohei, getting to know community members whilst working in the tree nursery

What are you going to do when you return home?

“When I get home I’d like to look into studying International Development. My experience with Raleigh has taught me that I care very passionately about big issues and love to be in different environments, so International Development seems like an obvious choice for me. I’d also like to become a more active member of Raleigh Japan and help to grow its recognition in Japan.”

Shohei has been part-funded by the Ministry of Education in Japan, and Raleigh Japan. Keep your eyes peeled for Alpha One’s next blogpost, where Shohei and his fellow group members will be discussing the effect trekking has had on their appreciation for the environment, and environmental protection.

By Felicity, Communications Officer

Photos by Steve Freeman

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