ICS volunteer

Sidney from Bristol in the UK took part in Raleigh’s International Citizen Service (ICS) as a volunteer in Tanzania to work on a project raising awareness on water, sanitation and hygiene in partnership with local NGO MAMADO. Working in the rural village of Chipanga, Sidney’s team were delighted to find out that the simple and sustainable ‘tippy taps’ they built together were so warmly received by the community that children and adults taught others how to make them, and eventually the hand washing facilities swept through the village!

Sidney’s confidence grew enormously on his ICS placement and he wanted to continue his personal development while raising awareness of the issues he faced in Tanzania by presenting to his local community as part of his Action at Home project.

“ICS has opened my eyes to the world of international development. Before the ICS programme, I wasn’t sure on what career path to choose after I graduate, but my experience in Tanzania has definitely had a positive impact on my plans for the future and I now see myself working in development.

I have also learnt about personal development and leadership. I was also very self-conscious before my placement, but now I can stand in front of a school of 200 children and confidently belt out a song in Swahili, without feeling silly.

I have learnt to speak some Swahili and Gogo, immersing myself into the Tanzanian way of life and living in the heart of an agricultural and farming community.

Our group worked in the central region of Tanzania which is the poorest and driest region in the country. We conducted research in the community which confirmed that one of the main issues facing the village was a lack of water and sanitation.

Working with project partner MAMADO, we ran a number of activities in line with WASH principles (water, sanitation and hygiene.)

The results of our research told us that although almost everyone in the village had a family latrine; they were not used by children until they reached the age of five, and hands were not washed before or after use. Our research also told us that people did not treat their water or wash their hands before or after cooking.

Although the local school already had latrines; they were of a poor standard and many were broken. There were no doors on the latrines themselves and there were no hand washing facilities.

Lack of water, sanitation and hygiene means there is a higher chance of spread of disease and illness such as diarrhoea and worms. The risk of outbreak was particularly high in the school, with so many children learning together.

We decided to start a “SWASH” (School water, sanistation and hygiene) club in the primary and secondary school, involving the local teachers at all levels in the hopes that teachers will continue to teach WASH principles in the school and community. It was wonderful to see that children had learnt the SWASH song we taught them and were now washing their hands after going to the toilet.

Another step we took to try and address the issue or poor sanitation and hygiene was to build demonstration “tippy taps” for the community. These are simple, easy to build hand washing facilities using just a few cheap and readily available materials. After speaking to community members we agreed to build several demonstration tippy taps in public locations to offer a higher level of exposure. Asking permission to build them gave us an opportunity to discuss sanitation and hygiene in more detail. We asked that they invite their friends and family to the construction of the tippy tap so that we could also pass on knowledge around safer sanitation and hygiene practices.

The highlight of my experience was when the concept swept through the community and many people in the village built and started to use their own tippy taps.

The concept of volunteering was something some community members struggled to understand at first. They did not know why people would work so hard for no money and the village had never seen Tanzanians and “Mzungus” (foreigners) working together before. However, having national volunteers here to help and explain why we were a mixed group helped the community to change their opinion.

“Jwa nili waka sani” is a motivational phrase we were taught by the community which means “the sun shines a lot.”

It was wonderful to learn about the realities of development in real time and the general issues and constraints of undertaking such work in one of the poorest countries in the world.

My confidence grew in leaps and bounds during my ICS experience in Tanzania. I thoroughly enjoyed leading the awareness raising sessions in front of 200 children. I wanted to give a presentation in front of my local community to follow through with my personal development and public speaking.

I organised the presentation evening at my local church and spoke about my Raleigh ICS experience, the Millennium Development Goals and health and sanitation issues in Tanzania. My aim was to inspire other young people to do something similar in development work, and to encourage others to get involved. I also wanted to show my sponsors where their money had gone.

Many young people at my presentation told me they felt inspired by my experiences. Abigail, a student said: “Sid’s presentation really gave me an insight into the lives of those in countries less fortunate than us.”

I plan to continue to raise awareness about Raleigh ICS and the issues I faced in Tanzania at my university by getting involved in societies.

Young people offer a very unique role in society, as a generation who are enthusiastic about the prospect of change in their communities and their world. The national volunteers in Tanzania were passionate about the eradication of corruption in their country and the children in the schools valued education and progress. I think the ICS programme is vital because young people have a very important role in society however in the current economic climate, it is increasing difficult for young people to be in a position to make a valuable contribution.”

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