Charlotte, aged 19, from Cambridge, traveled to Tanzania on a Raleigh International Expedition in 2017. Charlotte took a gap year after her A-level results as she wasn’t sure whether she wanted to go to university or what course to take. She is now preparing to go to the University of Exeter in September to study Geography.

Charlotte, 19, from Cambridge, volunteered on an Expedition in Tanzania in 2017.

“After I completed my A levels in 2016, I wanted to take a year out as I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to go to university or what course to take, so I took a year to experience other things before university. I studied geography, psychology and biology at A level and intended to apply for 2017 entry.”

Charlotte volunteered in the villages of Chimlata and Ihanu in rural Tanzania, where she and her team worked on environment and water and sanitation projects.

“In Chimlata we were building a toilet block in the school as the facilities are limited currently. At the end of the project there will be 12 toilets with disabled facilities and a menstruation room. There are a lot of girls who stop going to school because of inadequate facilities so the menstruation room will provide a clean and private environment for them to feel safe and comfortable whilst at school, and help generations to come.

In Ihanu our goal was to build a tree nursery – to aid the replanting of trees – and increase knowledge of the importance of trees and their role in reducing climate change. Working with the community on the importance of reducing deforestation and protecting trees in an area where each home depends heavily on timber for everyday activities. We worked with the Tanzania Forestry Commission Group who helped us engage with the community who were all welcoming and took it in turns to spend time at the project site, which was great. We took local children to the project site, as well as building an additional nursery at the village school. This was really importance as it will be these children who will be continuing the care of the nursery in 10 to 15 years, ensuring the project is sustainable for the future.

The best thing about volunteering with Raleigh is they are definitely in it for the community, for the long-term – they don’t do the ‘bulldozer effect’. I definitely felt like we were working with the community rather than just doing something for them”.

Through her impactful project in Tanzania, Charlotte built up a number of valuable personal and professional skills whilst also a developing stronger sense of direction for her future career.

“Before going on Raleigh, I was excited to meet people that had the same interests as me in international development and being passionate about creating lasting change in a sustainable manner. It also allowed me to see if this [development] is a career path I want to go into.

I’ve learnt so much on Raleigh that you can’t learn in a classroom and skills that will prepare you for the workplace in terms of communicating with people and motivating yourself.

I’ve definitely built up more of a ‘can do’ attitude. Nothing seems too big for me now. On the Expedition you push yourself and use your initiative to be as helpful as possible. Just getting on with things and being really helpful and seeing where help is needed is quite good. I realised that when I am not feeling great I am able to pick myself up and find motivation to get on with the task at hand.

The main thing about a Raleigh Expedition is that you really do go into the heart of the community. If I’d gone and travelled by myself, no way would I have trekked through these remote communities, gone and lived in and really been part of the community. I think that’s the best way to learn, actually living with local people, as you learn their ways of life and you gain a greater understanding of how they think about things. You really can’t go wrong with first-hand experience.”

Follow in Charlotte’s footsteps and volunteer on a Raleigh Expedition

Find out more and apply

Related blog posts

Hygiene must be inclusive for all