What made you want to volunteer with Raleigh Tanzania?
“For me, this was the opportunity of a lifetime. I had always wanted to do something similar, but due to work commitments and family life it was a goal I had not been able to fulfil. The opportunity came at just the right time for me and I jumped at the chance. I read about Raleigh International, the goals of the project I would be working on and the skills I would gain, and knew immediately that I had to apply.”
What were you hoping to gain from volunteering?
“I wanted to broaden my skill set, developing my leadership skills and adaptability. I was looking forward to experiencing working with young people and being able to guide them through the process. I have been in my industry for 16 years and saw expedition as a new challenge and a unique life experience that I could learn a lot from.”
What have you been doing during your time in Tanzania?
“When we first arrived, we had two weeks of induction. Following the arrival of the venturers, the volunteer managers facilitated four days of induction with them. I then travelled to a village called Mlanga to work on a SWASH (school water, sanitation and hygiene) project. We were in the village to build a hand sanitation unit to accompany a toilet block that had been built by a previous Raleigh Tanzania group. We also taught lessons with the school children on hand washing and good sanitation practices. The new sanitation facilities will give the school children access to privacy and clean toilets. Additionally, the young people who attended SWASH lessons will be able to take the knowledge shared with them and pass it on to their families and the wider community – enabling a shift in behaviour. We spent three weeks in Mlanga and then ended expedition with a five day hike in the southern highlands of Iringa.”
What has surprised you the most about Raleigh Tanzania Expedition?
“I was surprised by how much I missed my family during expedition. I had such an unbelievable time, and sometimes I wished my loved ones were with me to share it. The venturers in my team also surprised me every day. They were such an amazing group of young people, and seeing each venturer change in so many positive ways from the beginning to the end of project was very rewarding.”
What was your favourite moment of expedition?
“One of my favourite moments was completing the construction and being able to hand it over to the community of Mlanga. When the village leadership turned on the tap on the hand washing station and we saw water coming out, it was a real feeling of accomplishment. I also enjoyed doing my final 1 to 1s with the venturers. Having them open up to you, and watching them change and flourish was so rewarding, I know they are all going to go on to be future leaders and active citizens.”
What did you find the most challenging aspect of expedition?
“The biggest challenge for me was being away from my loved ones. I speak to my family every day and really missed them, especially my daughter. Being away from technology and having lots of time to think made me really appreciate my family and the fact that I had someone to miss whilst I was away.”
What skills from expedition will you take back to the workplace?
“Leading a team who are working on a project in rural Tanzania was a completely new experience for me, and I will take so much away from expedition that I can apply to my job. I am definitely more adaptable to new situations and have become even more of a pragmatist. I loved the challenge of leading a team in new territory and have hugely developed my leadership skills. I am looking forward to leading a team at work in the future, as I have added so much to my skill set. I have also improved my confidence with public speaking ten fold. During venturer induction I had the opportunity to lead several training sessions and this really pushed me out of my comfort zone and helped me to develop my communication skills. I am looking forward to pursuing more public speaking opportunities when I return to the UK.”
What would you say to one of your colleagues at Nationwide Platforms who was thinking of volunteering with Raleigh International?
“Do it! It has been an absolute rollercoaster of emotions, and without a doubt one of the best things I have ever done. I think it is going to take some time for me to digest what I have actually been a part of and for me to understand the impact of my time in Tanzania. The whole experience has been so overwhelming in a positive way. I would say to anyone thinking about it: 100% go for it, you won’t regret it. I am so grateful to Nationwide Platforms for giving me this opportunity. I have developed so many of my skills whilst on expedition. I am a more confident public speaker and know I can lead a team successfully even in difficult circumstances. I can’t wait to get back to work to put into practice everything I have learned!”