Dedication and Commitment
Before you start working, it is important to think carefully about your reasons for volunteering and your expectations. By volunteering you have made a decision to give to a community and although this may prove difficult at times the community is relying on your commitment and dedication. Volunteering is hard work and you may find yourself in challenging situations that may take you out of your comfort zone.
Volunteering is a character building experience… if you let it be. You will get out of your experience what you put in. Overcoming obstacles will provide you with immense satisfaction and will provide your project with the commitment and the continuity that they need and deserve.
Obviously it may happen that you want or need to change projects; this should always be done in cooperation with the Project Coordinator so that we can ensure that all of our projects are provided with the help that we promise.
You should be prepared to use you own initiative while you are working on your project. You will need to plan activities for the children such as games, sports, and music lessons.
Be proactive and plan ahead. Proper lesson preparation is necessary to conduct successful classes. Information, ideas and materials are available, just talk to the Project Coordinator. You are also encouraged to help with renovation projects such as cleaning, painting, or building furniture, which are always appreciated by the community and will prove rewarding for yourself. If you need assistance in initiating these activities, the Project Coordinator will be more than happy to advise and assist you.
This is Africa
In comparison to what you are used to, things can seem slow, disorganized and illogical; this is a part of the Tanzanian culture and like it or loathe it, it is something that you will need to accept as part of your experience. These issues can be discussed with the other volunteers and Project Coordinator during the weekly meetings.
Morning & Afternoon Projects
When volunteering in Moshi, you are typically expected to undertake a morning and an afternoon project. You will discuss your project options with the Project Coordinator to see where your skills and interest will have the greatest impact on the community. The local community relies on our support from volunteers, so it is important to show dedication. Morning projects are typically teaching orientated with focus on the local schools at the nursery, primary, and secondary level. Afternoon projects have a bit more range from teaching Adult English classes to conducting sports lessons.
Morning Projects – Overview
General School Information
Assisting and teaching in schools in Tanzania can be a fantastic experience. Volunteers will have the opportunity to learn more about the Tanzanian school system by working in one of the schools with which Art in Tanzania partners.
As resources in Tanzanian schools are so limited, any kind of materials that the volunteer can provide to the pupils or the school is very welcome from pens and pencils to notebooks. Anything that you can use that will aid teaching such as workbooks, arts and crafts materials, reading books and flashcards will prove useful to you during your time at the project.
Teaching is a highly appreciated job, and the teachers dress accordingly. Volunteers should respect this and dress in clothes covering the shoulders and knees.
The children attending Nursery Schools in Tanzania are mostly between the ages of three and six. The majority of Nurseries are private, as few public Nurseries exist due to the government not being able to afford to establish them. The private Nurseries are often established by teachers, dedicated to teaching young children, and the pupils may have to pay a small fee to cover the rent expenses and the teachers’ salaries. Some children can afford it, but those who cannot often attend the classes for free. This means though that the schools have very limited resources.
Nursery education is typically conducted in Swahili, though some schools have English as the language of instruction. The volunteers we place in Nurseries assist and teach basic English and Math, such as counting from 1 to 25 and the letters in the alphabet. Teaching the children nursery rhymes and games, as well as simply providing them with some attention and affection will also be included in your activities. The Nurseries are usually open in the mornings from 8:00 am until 12:00 pm.
Primary Schools consist of seven standards with students between the age of 7 and 14. Sometimes, due to lack of teachers, pupils from different standards are in the same classroom. The classes are usually quite large, with classes ranging from 30-80 students. Government schools, which are essentially free, still require students to pay for certain materials and uniforms, which is often too much for some families to pay, therefore resources at the school are at a bare minimum.
The language of instruction at most of the Primary Schools is Swahili. Our volunteers teach English and sometimes Math to the Primary School students, and volunteers who feel confident enough are encouraged to teach other subject such as Geography, Science, Music or Sports. If the school has a curriculum, the teachers will work with our volunteers and show what is expected of them. Some schools do not have any curriculum in place. Therefore, we advise volunteers to come with lots of ideas on topics to teach. The teachers are also keen to learn methods of interactive teaching from the volunteers. We encourage our volunteers to work closely with the teachers at the school and introduce positive reinforcement as a method of discipline as opposed to the corporal punishment currently in use in many schools.
Lessons usually begin at 8:00 am and finish by 3:30 pm from Monday to Friday. Volunteers will be teaching only certain subjects and will be given a timetable of lessons that s/he will be asked to attend.
A large number of children finish their formal education after Primary School. There are very few government Secondary Schools and only those finishing Primary School with the highest grades are able to attend. Most Secondary Schools are private and require students to pay high school fees. Those attending Secondary Schools take the opportunity to study very seriously. Secondary Schools consist of four forms (A-levels) with two additional forms for specialization (O-levels). Those attending Secondary School do so formally from the age of 14 to 18 but many students are older due to various circumstances.
The schools are open from Monday to Friday from 8:30 am to 3:30 pm, but the volunteers working hours will depend on the subjects that they will be teaching. Volunteers will receive a timetable that will tell them their hours. Most volunteers teach English to the O & A level students, so the level of study may be quite in depth. Volunteers with knowledge to teach or assist with the teaching of Math, Physics or Geography are also greatly appreciated. We encourage volunteers to use interactive teaching methods to help the students’ learning process and aid in the development of the teachers’ teaching techniques.
Afternoon Projects – Overview
Afternoon projects require a great deal of initiative from our volunteers. Often classes are conducted solely by the volunteers and material is limited which requires volunteers to use their creativity! As our afternoon projects depend highly on the skills of the volunteer and the needs of the community, not all afternoon projects are available year-round. You can discuss your interest and skill set with the Project Coordinator to see where you will fit best in assisting the community.
Don’t be surprised or offended if your project approaches you for money or sponsorship. You have to understand that their perception of Westerners is of wealth and in comparison to them we are wealthy, simply the fact that we can afford to fly here makes us wealthy beyond their dreams.
Some volunteers though have opted to financially help individuals, schools and projects within the community. Although this is not the purpose of volunteering, the fact that previous volunteers have done this has created certain expectations within the community. The individual here has nothing to lose by asking you but will understand completely if you explain that you are not in a position to give them money and explain that you are there to give your time and knowledge.
Art in Tanzania has an open donations policy. If you are interested in sponsoring an individual or donating something, please discuss the details with the Donations Supervisor, who will be able to advise you on beneficial donations as well as monitor and track your donation once you have left the country!
Previous volunteers have done some incredible work building classrooms, toilets, providing desks, benches, and blackboards, and assisting in paying for school uniforms, food, and school fees.
Many volunteers express an interest in fundraising. Past volunteers have fundraised by throwing parties and by doing quiz, karaoke or poker nights at the volunteer house. It is a fun way to celebrate for a good cause! If you are interested in setting up a fundraising event, you can discuss with the Donations Supervisor or Project Coordinator.