When deciding to sign up for Raleigh Tanzania, many of us thought about the altruistic side of volunteering. We thought about the communities we would be helping and the potential impacts we would have. Here in Nundu, that means working with the local community, alongside our project partners Southern Highlands Participatory Organisation (SHIPO), to not only build an all female latrine block but instigate lasting change through School Water Sanitation, Hygiene (SWASH) education. And, on International Volunteer Day, it has become clear that volunteering does not simply benefit the community that we are working with, it is a hugely beneficial experience for us.
Firstly, volunteering with Raleigh gives us a real sense of achievement. Marina, one of our international volunteers, explained “Teaching SWASH lessons at the school has been even more fulfilling than I thought it would be. To see the children so excited and enthusiastic about knowledge we take for granted, knowledge that can significantly impact their health, is really touching.”
Carla, another international volunteer, felt inspired by the children’s commitment to what they had been learning: “The fact that the kids chose to come to an action day in their free time to take part in challenges that tested their SWASH knowledge was incredible. It made me so happy to see that what we are doing as volunteers is really making a difference to the kids and hopefully the wider community too.”
Volunteering also enables personal development. The skills and the experience we have had whilst volunteering with Raleigh are incredibly valuable to us for the future. Fredy, one of our host country volunteers, believes that this experience “has made me more confident. Before, speaking in front of people was a real challenge. Being a leader was therefore really hard for me. However, now I have volunteered with Raleigh and have been supported in taking on different roles and responsibilities, my confidence has increased.”
Volunteering is also a culturally enriching experience. Tunosye, another host country volunteer, describes her experience of volunteering as a great cultural exchange. “I have gained confidence in speaking English and interacting with people from outside of Tanzania. I have enjoyed learning about different ways of life.”
Members of the community are also working with us on a voluntary basis. Joyce, a local from Nundu village, believes that the community volunteers as they want Nundu to be better. She explained that she knows working with organisations like Raleigh and SHIPO can make this happen. “It makes me happy and I think it’s good that we are all working together.”
Working so closely with others on a voluntary basis gives you a sense of belonging that is hard to describe. Ultimately, you know that you have chosen to use time and put in your energies for something more important than financial reward. You are working to improve lives and in doing so you learn from each other, form wonderful friendships and improve yourself. Mimi, an international volunteer said it best, “My experience really does makes me feel like I am a global citizen.”