My Raleigh experience was sparked by the inspirational work of my classmate Acley Mremi who volunteered with Raleigh Tanzania and encouraged me to apply. I started my time with Raleigh volunteering on a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) project in Hydarer, Manyara back in July 2015. It was an experience seeing how rural communities are in need of clean water and sanitation facilities and during my time I was able to build leadership experience in a team of multicultural volunteers.
This experience was so useful and in September 2015, Raleigh Tanzania was looking for a Program Researcher and I was luckily accepted onto a six-week internship. My responsibilities were to find and analyse potential project partners that Raleigh will work with, as well as providing information about the areas that the project will take place in, for example how many people have access to water and how far they have to walk just to get it. I experienced a part of Tanzania I hadn’t known so much about before, including how many people live in poverty in rural Tanzania.
I learnt so much and at the end of my internship I became a Volunteer Manager (VM) on an Early Childhood Development Project in Didia, Shinyanga. We were building a centre with a classroom, playground, kitchen, office and toilet for young children aged 4-6 to come to and learn. This centre would not only mean the children get an education but also that the families are then able to work or get education themselves during the day. During my cycle we completed the construction and the next group followed on with plastering, painting a mural and building a fence. I was lucky that I had the opportunity to visit when the centre was opened in May, which is amazing.
After such a great three months as a VM I then applied to be an ICS Team Leader (TL) and worked on a WASH project in Igenge Village in Njombe from January to May 2016. As a TL, and as a VM, all eyes are on you and I learnt to lead by example and find alternative solutions to any challenge or problem that arose. I also found it really important to encourage and motivate the volunteers to learn outside of their comfort zone, which is a useful managerial tool. It was such a successful project, with the end result being a fully constructed toilet building and setting up a SWASH club (School led Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), at Igenge primary school. I believe having taught the importance of hygiene this will lead to behaviour change about hand washing, which is a great accomplishment.
I knew I wanted to continue working with Raleigh so I applied for a Deputy Operations Manager (DOM) position, an administrative and managerial role overseeing the Expedition program. The Expedition program involves a WASH project, Natural Resource Management (NRM) and Youth Leadership, which is a trek. The main responsibilities of my role are to prepare and deliver training to Volunteer Managers and venturers across the three projects, provide support through weekly conference calls and go on project support visits during each phase.
This cycle is coming to an end and I am pleased to say I have gained so much experience with Raleigh, facing and overcoming challenges. I have developed brilliant friendships with people I have met on my journey and some of us have started project called ‘Didia Civic Pride’. Our aim is to financially support students from poor families to give them better education, so in turn they can support their community. We are currently finalising plans with banks and will then start fundraising to be able to give support. Together, we are really keen to continue to do great things in this world. I have also been working with a friend to set up Rau Eco & Cultural Tourism Program, an eco-friendly tourism and conservation enterprise raising awareness of environmental conservation in the Rau Forest Reserve in Moshi, Kilimanjaro.
I would encourage anyone to volunteer, as the experience is so beneficial. You’ll create a network of friends, learn so many different things and explore the world, a world that right now needs people to devote their time to support others and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. Volunteering with Raleigh has been an amazing experience for my personal and professional development and I am so happy because it has shown me I can bring positive change into this world.