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Give a Heart To Africa

About

Give a Heart To Africa (GHTA) is a grass roots volunteer organization located in Moshi, Tanzania. Our aim is to empower adult women via education and entrepreneurship. We offer them a one year course in English, Business and Vocational skills. All 3 subjects are taught by international volunteers and translated by former graduates. GHTA is 100% run by volunteers so we truly need and value your help. No prior teaching experience is necessary as we have detailed lesson plans available. Every Friday we visit one of our students in their home, meet their family, share a meal and learn more about each others' lives and culture. Volunteers from all walks of life are welcome, just bring an open mind. Thank you for considering to volunteer with us

Founded
2009

Reviews

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Wandering
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I left my heart in Tanzania for the first time in 2013. Since then, I have traveled back to Give a Heart to Africa, four more times. During my most recent visit in the summer of 2019 I was in awe of how much impact this program has had. It has grown from a school, and a business cooperative, to a school with expanded programming, and three local businesses that grew out of GHTA, employee GHTA graduates, and continue to benefit from mentoring from volunteers and the local staff. I loved the teaching, there are lots of resources and supports to help. I also truly loved experiencing the local culture, which included weekly home visits to the students homes to meet their families. If you are looking for something that has impact that you can see, this is the place for you.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Don't be afraid of the teaching if you have never taught.
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Karen
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I spent 4 weeks at GHTA in 2011 and I always remember the words of Monika, the founder, as she personally dropped me back at Killi airport and saw how sad I was leaving. She said kindly, “you’ll be back”. Well she was right. I’m writing this in 2019 from the GHTA school itself. Probably the biggest reason why I returned is the integrity and impact of this NGO. I saw first hand how volunteer skills are maximised and our fees directly fund the running of the GHTA school, empowering women’s though education and the support and security of every volunteer.
Moshi is in a romantic location at the foot of Kilimanjaro. It’s is a mid sized town with tourist business opportunities but unfortunately there are still a few hardships experienced by some of the residents, particularly women who, for various reasons, couldn’t complete their schooling and may have little or no work but have mouths to feed. This school is specifically for these lovely women who actually have huge potential (and smiles), teaching them English, business and vocation skills.
As a volunteer you live in the school. Sounds odd but that cuts out any travel hassles. We work Monday to Thursday mornings teaching and spend afternoons reviewing or helping at local business, started by ex GHTA students, organising extra tuition for those that need it or on Fridays we have home visits which is a great way to see how the ladies live. You don’t need to be a teacher to volunteer but thinking on your feet a bit helps. Moshi isn’t a raving social town from a foreigner perspective but there are some nice coffee shops and local restaurants to try. The curry here is actually really good. There is also a new 4 star hotel with a roof top bar here if, like me, you need to get your tourist vibe fix on occasion. You are also 5 hours away from Norongoro National Park (amazing), Tarangeri NP and 7 from the Serengeti. It’s easy to organise safari weekends while here and even bolt on a Zanzibar trip if you fancy. I’m here for 6 weeks as part of a longer trip through Africa and it’s going so fast! I know I will be sad to leave again. The women have been so wonderful and my experiences at GHTA have enriched my life.

What would you improve about this program?
Very little to improve upon. I would LOVE WiFi here but quite frankly electricity and hot water (which we have both) is the priority. 4G is available to buy in town and its pretty quick.
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Adair
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I chose this volunteer placement after extensive searching. I did NOT want to end up in a program catering to Gap Year students, rather one that is geared to adults with workforce skills. I DID come to this very concerned with my own safety, as i had never travelled solo in Africa. The fact that GHTA caters to women's education and economics (my career and passion) and is at the foot of Kilimanjaro (I am a mountaineer) sealed the deal. I decided to drop in for six weeks, live and work in a safe place, get the lay of the land, gain some knowledge of local ways and language, and take off for travelling adventure.
Instead: I spent my entire African stay of five months at GHTA, and extended as long as my life in the States would allow. At GHTA i was able to work closely and meaningfully with local women; spend long afternoons driking tea in their homes, meeting their families, playing with their children; live long enough in a town that i learned my way around and felt at home; met some fascinating young people who have become long distance friends; travelled to stunning safari and hiking locations on the weekends; spent long evenings in the hot humid dark talking with GHTA staff members about their lives and mine. Aide work is humbling and complicated. We will spend our lives wondering if we made a diffference in our students' lives. But one thing for sure: the students and staff of GHTA made a huge difference in my life. I long to return (and will do so!) and encourage anyone looking for a program deeply embedded in a community to check out GHTA.

What would you improve about this program?
Since i worked at the school the curriculum has been overhauled, which was overdue. I hope to return to work with it!
Lucy
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

My two months volunteering at Give a Heart to Africa (January-March 2017) were more amazing than I can put into words. Organizations like GHTA are hard to find. Educating and empowering women in developing countries is sadly not always a first priority. When I was researching organizations to volunteer with and I found GHTA I was thrilled. An organization that not only educated women in subjects like English and math, but also vocations and business, was exactly what I was looking for.
The application process was simple and very informative. I talked to everyone involved in the organization and I felt very safe about my traveling plans.
Before I knew it I was landing in Tanzania! This was my first time traveling alone internationally so I was pretty nervous going somewhere completely new. However once I landed and met the people I would be working and living with for the next couple of months I knew that it was exactly where I wanted to be.
GHTA started feeling like a second home within a matter of days. Everyone involved in GHTA, especially the women who are the leaders of the organization, are more than passionate about helping not only women, but anyone in need, in and out of school. Over the years GHTA has been in Tanzania it is clear that they have worked and continue to work effortlessly towards empowering and bettering the lives of women in need. The change is clear. GHTA creates a huge impact in bettering the lives of their students and the community.
Volunteering for GHTA is an experience I would highly recommend to anyone who is interested. I made so many relationship and met people that I will never forget. Moshi is a safe community filled with the kindest people. Teaching at the school is a large responsibility and it is crucial that all volunteers commit their time and are serious about school, however outside of classes there are lots of opportunities to go on day trips, hiking, safari trips, exploring town, and many more things.
Volunteering at GHTA is an opportunity I am so unbelievably grateful to have experienced. If you have the chance, please please please go. It will be worth every minute.

What would you improve about this program?
I dont think there is really anything the program needs to improve, everyone involved in the organization does an amazing job.
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Danielle
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I volunteered with GHTA for a month in January 2017, and it was hands down the best month of my life. This program is truly amazing, and the people you meet in Moshi will forever change your life.

I decided to volunteer with GHTA after a friend of mine told me about the program, as she had volunteered a few years prior and absolutely loved it. I just graduated college in December 2016, and decided that I wanted to go to Tanzania for the month immediately after. I traveled with my best friend, as we were both passionate about women's education.

The women that are in this program are some of the most inspiring and determined women I have ever met in my life. For many of the students, this program is one of the only ways for them to gain a better education, and provide for their families. Everyday, I woke up with excitement to see these women and talk with them about their lives and their families. I was working in the vocations classroom, and had amazing conversations with them surrounding current global issues, and women's rights in Tanzania. Although I was teaching them English, they also did a fantastic job of teaching me Swahili.

The program is also run by a fantastic woman, Rhiannon. I have never seen someone who genuinely cares so much about giving back to others before herself. She wants each and every one of her students to succeed, even if that means being strict on them. She inspired me every day, and was also so fun to spend time with when class was not in session. She is the heart and soul of GHTA.

The town of Moshi itself is beautiful and filled with such kind people. My best friend and I walked to town nearly every day, and always felt safe. Kilimanjaro is also the backdrop to Moshi, although we did not get to hike it while we were there.

There is so much to do in Tanzania, and so many amazing people to meet. If you have the time, go volunteer for GHTA for at least two months. One month for us was not enough, and we were heartbroken to have to leave. I love the people and the organization so much, and I hope to go back to this program someday.

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

Adair Dammann

Adair is a lifelong learner and adventurer, organizer for economic justice, and advocate for social change. She lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband and two dogs, hosts her granddaughter as often as possible, and dreams of her next trip to Africa.

Why did you choose this program?

I combed the internet for months looking for an opportunity to live in a community in Africa, offer my skills and energy in whatever way could be useful, and humbly learn from the people with whom I work. I wanted to find a program that is genuinely nested in a community, and which is deeply respectful of the people it serves. I quickly learned the difference between a good website and a good program! I learned to look for volunteer reviews on each program I was considering.

The way that Give A Heart to Africa described the expectations and responsibilities of its volunteers first sold me: GHTA conveyed such respect for the cultures of their adult women students. Then I found a volunteer review that said “six months was not enough time here”, and I knew that I had found a place where I could do meaningful, eye-opening, and rewarding work.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

GHTA has an extremely thorough volunteer handbook that helps incoming volunteers anticipate just about everything, from voltage requirements of electrical devices to security arrangements at the volunteer house. Most reassuring to me as I prepared was knowing that the school and volunteer compound has 24/7 security on site, and a cook who makes dinner 6 nights a week.

This helped me feel comfortable traveling “alone” halfway around the world and dropping into a new community. I had to make my own flight arrangements, but GHTA arranged airport transfer. A Skype interview with the school helped me prepare to deal with passport, immigration, and visa particulars.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Pack less! Going to a faraway land, you may think you need to bring everything, but that is just anxiety talking! Travel light; you can find, rent, or buy almost anything you actually need.

Once there, avoid spending all your time with other Western travelers – find ways to mix and meet with people in the community you are visiting. Seek out adventure! Find some folks to take day trips or weekend trips with. Spend for a safari! Visit museums. Visit schools. Attend church services or classes. Ask for recommendations from others.

When walking around the neighborhood and markets, leave the camera behind. It stands between you and the local people – they do not like it, and they will feel used. Instead, feast with your eyes and ears and nose. Take it all in. Ride the packed buses, and laugh!

Finally, you will get homesick. Being in a foreign culture is exhilarating but exhausting as well. Breathe. Take some quiet time alone, take care of yourself, and get back to it!

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

From Monday through Thursday, we spend half days teaching, and the afternoon is for doing a mix of teaching, tutorial, laundry, trips to the market for groceries, or the wifi café, and some time for exploring. Then, dinner with fellow volunteers follows.

In the evening, we do class preparations, movies, reading, or hanging out with staff. Friday which is everyone’s favorite is for a field trip to visit a student’s family which can sometimes be a long journey. Then you get “tea” time which lasts hours and may involve several courses, visits from all the neighbors and family members, and some very moving conversation.

Weekends are for travel; safari and hiking opportunities are numerous. You can also go exploring town, watch local soccer tournaments, visit restaurants, museums, or whatever.

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I worried about whether I would feel useless, as a Western volunteer in an undefined situation (Certainly, many voluntourists report that experience.) However, I was deeply engaged in making our school work for our students. GHTA volunteers work hard and have to bring a lot of creativity and ingenuity to the work. I tried my hardest to be a good teacher of English, and worked as hard as I have worked at any job.

The students’ gratitude was boundless. It’s hard to know whether we, volunteers, make a difference in our students’ lives, but they certainly made a difference in mine!

What special challenges face older volunteers?

None! (At least, after finding a good placement designed to work with volunteers long past our “Gap Year”.) Elders hold special status among traditional cultures where I worked, which was pleasant. I think bringing some age and perspective to our mix – both among school staff, students, and other volunteers – made a good experience for us all. Curiosity, an open mind, humility, and generosity will carry you into and through the adventure.