Volunteer at children's village in Tanzania

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About

If you are looking to take part in a challenging and worthwhile programme on your gap year, this is the perfect program for you.

Based in a children's village in the Rift Valley in Tanzania, you will work alongside a team of dedicated volunteers dedicated to providing a permanent home for nearly 100 local children. Your main role will be to lead fun activities. to teach English and to help with the day-to-day care of the children.

You will live with other volunteers in private, shared accommodation in the village. You will have access to a western bathroom and a communal area to relax in the evenings. You will be well supported by our team before departure and throughout your time in Tanzania.

Surrounded by beautiful scenery, this is a fantastic project for people looking to experience real Tanzanian culture. You will have Sundays free and most volunteers use this time to relax at the local safari lodges or to shop in Karatu - a great way to get to know the area and the team!

Highlights
  • Experience real Tanzania as a local
  • Contribute to a fantastic project, working tirelessly to help local children
  • Live in a vibrant children's village with a brilliant team
  • Eat delicious, home-cooked food
  • Explore the area and all that Tanzania has to offer

Questions & Answers

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Reviews

9.27 Rating
based on 11 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 90.91%
  • 7-8 rating 9.09%
  • 5-6 rating 0%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 0%
  • Housing 7.8
  • Support 8.7
  • Fun 9.5
  • Value 9.4
  • Safety 8.3
Showing 1 - 8 of 11
Default avatar
Amy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Supported and safe yet independent stay in beautiful Arusha

I spent 6 months living in Arusha through Oyster Worldwide, working as an English teacher in a local primary school in the mornings and with disabled children undergoing and recovering from life changing surgeries in the afternoon.

The work was very hard. This was no extended holiday. Taking on a class of 50 ten year olds with minimal English skills and attempting to control them without the use of a stick (the standard punishment there) was very daunting. But after a few days both the children and I settled into it. They respected the effort I was putting in to help them and loved the change in teaching style. I fell in love with them and yearned to see their faces light up when they got something right. Go armed with lots of sparkly stickers! The standard method of teaching involved the children learning sentences by rote, without necessarily understanding any meaning. By the time I left, just being exposed to somebody speaking to them in fluent English had improved their confidence and competence in holding an English conversation ten fold. Half the class (including me) wept at our goodbye party.

The problems children had at the home I worked in were very distressing and ranged from cleft palates to burns over the entire body, club feet to knocked knees so bad the child had never walked. Essentially, my role was to provide them with entertainment and some basic education. The staff there were hard working and loving but their time was taken up with cooking, cleaning and finances. For the first few days I was a climbing frame and could only get through to the youngest children. However, after a while my Swahili improved and I started building true relationships with the older children and teaching them to read, write and do basic arithmetic. I feel that on both placements I made a real difference to the children's lives.

Throughout the experience, an Oyster representative was there to support us. Tracy became a true friend, having three of us over for a sleepover while our housemates climbed Kilimanjaro, taking us to dinner, showing us around Arusha and welcoming us into her lovely family. Her Tanzanian partner gave us Swahili lessons and many contacts around the town so that we always felt we had somebody we could trust.

Oyster provided five of us with a clean and nicely furnished little house just outside of the centre of town. The school was a 3 minute walk away and the children's home was a 300TSh (12p) bus journey away. A man was hired to keep the premises clean and safe and we had a large locked gate, which made it feel very secure.

Plantain, mangoes and papaya grew in the garden and we could see Mount Meru from the track outside.

Arusha is a fast paced, exciting and interesting town. Once people are familiar with you they go out of their way to make you feel welcome and comfortable. After a couple of weeks of always walking as a group (5 of us) two of the boys went to the post office alone to cries from the usual punters ("come buy beautiful paintings!" "You need taxi?") of "Where are your sisters!".

Arusha is the main stop off point for tourists who go to Tanzania to go on Safari (which simply means journey in Swahili), and so the locals are used to bewildered people in khaki trousers, throwing money around and shouting 'Jambo!'. They therefore really respect any visitors who make a real effort with the language and culture. The support Oyster provided meant we felt comfortable going into local cafes and ordering slightly scary looking dishes.

Overall I feel that Oyster Worldwide provide a very secure safety net for travellers which enabled us to independently go through the experience and discover Arusha. They tailored the experience to each of us and I cannot imagine how it could have been any more rewarding or worthwhile. Thank you Oyster!

Default avatar
Ellen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Teaching English in Tanzania!

My time in Tanzania was probably the best experience I have ever undertaken!

Oyster organised everything perfectly and prepared you fully for the trip through the pre-departure course (where they told you everything from facts about the Tanzanian culture to what to pack in your bag), the Swahili lessons and the orientation days in Arusha. It was very comforting to know that everything had been taken care of so thoroughly and that there were people waiting for you to get you settled in Arusha and to sort any problems you had during your stay. This was particularly reassuring for my parents!

I spent my mornings teaching English to 2 classes of 70 children. Although, it was very difficult to control the children at times, I had a fantastic time and really felt that I made a difference to their English. In the afternoon, we travelled to a local rehabilitation centre for children who had just undergone different forms of surgery. This was the most amazing place that I have ever worked and truly cemented my love for Africa! Here I really felt that we made a difference and I have since returned and continue to support the development of this amazing place!

I would thoroughly recommend doing a placement in Tanzania and the only thing that I regret is the fact that I only stayed for 3 months and not for 6!

What would you improve about this program?
It would be nice if we were given more guidance and help to organise after school clubs
Default avatar
Jess
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Tanzania

Living and working in Tanzania for 3 months is something that will never leave my memory. It took me a while to settle in the first week and i was convinved that i was going home, however i am SO glad i decided to stick it out as 7 months later and i am back in Tanzania for the second time this year! The actual voluntary aspect is both fun and rewarding, and the social life in Arusha is amazing! I met some great people here who I am back in Tanzania with now.

What would you improve about this program?
The support from England was brilliant, however the support from Tanzania was not so good so I started to rely on local friends to help rather than the help that was provided.
Default avatar
J
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Gap Year Experience

I couldn't have asked for a better gap year experience. One of the great things about choosing Oyster as a smaller company for my gap year meant that I personally knew the individual staff organising my trip and who were responsible for my well-being in Tanzania. They were extremely helpful, both pre-departure and whilst I was based in Tanzania (especially when I decided to extend my stay by another month because I was having such a great time.)

I chose to undertake a teaching placement, which I think does make you feel like you are being thrown in the deep-end a bit in a foreign country, but because I was sharing a house with other people having similar experiences we were always able to support each other when we had difficult lessons or children constantly misbehaving. By the end of my placement my classes were much more attentive, and it had become both rewarding and a joy to teach them (well most of them at least!) We also had the chance to set up after school clubs, which we created in music and drama, and the kids really enjoyed learning songs with actions like 'London's burning' with us. One of the great things about the placement was that we had the opportunity to do extra things like this, which were always gratefully received. My housemates and I bonded with the teachers at our school, who invited us for meals, and we really felt like part of the school community. So much so that two of us climbed Kilimanjaro to raise money to buy textbooks and start a small library in the school.

As well as teaching and volunteering at a local orphanage and an amazing place called 'Plaster House' which provides a home for Tanzanian children undergoing corrective orthopaedic surgery, we found time to explore the country. We visited Moshi and the amazing waterfalls, Zanzibar and the beautiful beaches, and went on Safari to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater. We had to organise these trips ourselves but it was fairly easy to do in-country, and the previous volunteers gave us tips on what bus/tour companies they had used. We were also lucky that our in-country contact worked in the safari business so Oyster helped organise our safari trip at a great price for us.

There's a great sense of community with the other volunteers. I met some fantastic people, and being split up in a few houses around Arusha meant that we explored the city and met regularly for social events, both going-out and meals, which you could take part in as little or as often as you liked.

The experience I had with Oyster in Tanzania has been pretty formative in my career choice - I've been working for international development and human rights charities for the past year, and am undertaking a law conversion course in September with the aim of becoming a human rights lawyer. I'm not sure I would have ended up on this pathway without my incredible Tanzanian experience, and I'm so grateful to Oyster for making it possible!

What would you improve about this program?
I had a fantastic experience with Oyster so it would be difficult to suggest something substantial that should be improved.
Default avatar
Katy
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteering in Tanzania in 2009

My trip to Tanzania is probably the most valuable thing I have ever done in terms of my own personal growth and my current career. I have just started my first year as a primary school teacher and part of the reason that I have come to be in the place I am now I believe is due to my experience in Tanzania. The experience gave me such valuable skills in terms of teaching but also life lessons and challenges that have made me stronger as a person. It was a few years ago now that I went to Tanzania but it still often comes to my mind and the memories are still very clear and will always stay with me. I kept a diary when I was there which I would highly recommend! There are so many things that happen day-to-day, its good to get them written down so you don't forget when you look back in years to come.

My experience in Tanzania was one of the most enjoyable things I have ever done. I lived in a house with 4 other volunteers and it was just really good fun and we all supported each other. We also met up with some of the other volunteers who lived in other areas at the weekends so there was always a really strong support network of people who are going through the same experience.

Day to day, I was teaching in school in the morning. I would then usually go home and mark a big pile of books! Then in the afternoons we often went to volunteer at one of the orphanages. We also set up a creative club one day a week after school which the children loved. The house we were living in did not always have running water but it made it all the more satisfying when we did eventually get to have that shower (even if it wasn't always hot!). When it was the school holidays we went on a trip to Zanzibar which was absolutely amazing. We also went on a safari which was an unforgettable experience seeing all of the Big 5 and staying in luxury accommodation!

One of the main challenges I found was just being away from friends and family for such a long time as well as living in very basic accommodation. But this did become easier as time went on and I would recommend staying as long as you can as I found that when I got home it was more of a disappointment than anything! Once your home you can't go back so make the most of it while you can.

Overall I think Oyster is great if you want to volunteer in somewhere like Tanzania. You feel more of a sense of security and it means that everything is organised for you when you are there as well as having other volunteers to share the experience with. I would highly recommend it!

What would you improve about this program?
The induction weekend was in England and I'm from Scotland so it meant that I had to travel quite a bit to get there but I'm not sure how this could be avoided! Maybe there could be some kind of alternative online or options to meet in other parts of the country as well. I also felt there could have been a little bit more training and advice in terms of the teaching but I suppose you can only prepare yourself so much for that until you get there. Other than that I was happy with all that Oyster had to offer.
Default avatar
Alice
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Oyster are great!

The Oyster volunteer programme was perfect for me. Once the initial induction, we were left to our own devices, and were given full independence. If something went wrong, we knew who to call and the help was immediate. I had an absolutely fabulous time.

What would you improve about this program?
I wish I had stayed longer....does this count?
Default avatar
Fanny
8/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Helping in Secondary School in Arusha, Tanzania.

I went in Tanzania this past winter, just to live something special. And I was not disappointed! Africa has to be lived like this. Going for a bit and live day by day with local people. Enjoy the problem with electricity, water, accommodation. And learn how lucky we are.
When I have a problem now, I just shut my eyes and remember myself the happiness from everybody there...
A great experience of life.

Default avatar
sinead
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Tanzania adventure if fun

Went to Tanzania September 2008.
Based in Arusha a busy town, making money from the safari industry.

We spent a few days in a hotel before we were thrown in to the deap end.
Massive class sizes and minimal resources pushed you to really act on your feet. Was a good challenge.
And living conditions were basic to help you understand how your students are living.
Super cute children who really want to learn.

Had some fantastic trips to the coast/safari/zanzibar.
Swahili was an easy language to get the basics of and people appreciated you trying.

What would you improve about this program?
Tricky to think of much, ideas of general weekend activities. List of things to do.