Fadhila from Kilimanjaro, Tanzania, volunteered with Raleigh in autumn 2014. Her team worked together on a water and hygiene project, building a gravity-fed water system to bring safe water to a rural village and raising awareness of good hygiene practices.
“Before volunteering with Raleigh, I was a student at the Institute of Social Work in Dar Es Salaam where I studied how to help communities with social problems. I saw that Raleigh had similar aims – to address issues at a community level, working with communities to make them more resilient and helping them to solve their own problems. I hoped that through volunteering I could increase my skills and knowledge in this area, as well as gaining experience of working together with different people from Tanzania and other countries.
My team was based in Gongoni, where we worked together on a safe water and sanitation project. One of the aims of the project was to help the community dig a long trench as part of a new gravity-fed water system which would bring safe, accessible water to the village for the first time in three years. I helped to dig the trench alongside my team.
The first day when we went to dig the trench, we noticed that the community members hadn’t come to join us. At the end of the day, we had a meeting in our team to discuss how we could encourage them to take part. The next day, a man came over to see us when we were digging. I told him why we were digging and he said he wanted to make sure people came to help us. He did, and over the following days more and more people came. Cooperation is good – when we cooperate together, we can do more.
As well as building the gravity-fed water system, my team worked to raise awareness of good hygiene practices, building tippy taps and showing people how to use them and teaching children songs about hand washing. We also built energy-efficient cooking stoves called ‘rocket stoves’, as well as putting on an event to celebrate International Children’s Day and leading debates in the local secondary school about gender equality.
Meeting with the women’s groups was one of my best moments. We had discussions together about different issues, such as how to how to start and improve a small business. We also talked about how using a rocket stove can reduce time spent collecting firewood, and how this can empower women by giving them more free time for other things. I enjoyed this because I have a strong belief that there should be equality between men and women.
Raleigh helps people learn new skills. I have learnt about the importance of hand washing, how to build tippy taps and raise awareness of social issues, and how to gain cooperation and respect within a community. I have gained leadership skills and I now understand the responsibilities of being a leader and how to manage a group. I also have learnt how to be strong, especially during trek and through constructing the water system. I am more confident in myself; I felt this when we led the debate at the secondary school.
The knowledge I have gained from Raleigh, I can share with other communities. I can help to teach people how to build and use tippy taps, and how to wash their hands properly to prevent the spread of disease. In the rural villages that my team worked in, I saw that the children have a lot of health problems, such as diarrhoea and vomiting, and there are higher rates of HIV in comparison to the area I come from. There’s little education and equal opportunities need to be improved because most girls don’t have the same opportunity to go to school as boys. To educate women is to educate society, because it is the women who will pass on their education to their children. I found out that there is no social worker in one of the villages, so I would really like to work there in the future as I think I could make some positive changes in that community.
Volunteering is very important because it helps people to develop their knowledge and skills. I’ve seen this for myself – as a volunteer I’ve learnt so many things, so I feel very proud of this. Whatever I do in the future, I’m sure that through this experience I can bring positive change to society – Raleigh has given me this confidence and belief.”