It was over five weeks ago now that I arrived on Mafia Island to start the volunteering programme in Marine conservation, and I have had the time of my life. It feels like I’ve only been here days but at the same time I have enough memories to fill a lifetime. The work is hard but satisfying and everything is an adventure, whether it’s teaching English to the primary school kids on Chole Island which lays the basis for them to go to secondary school and study further, or diving and surveying on the gorgeous coral reefs to collect data which will help to preserve and protect them. And that work is in an incredibly diverse environment which is like nowhere else in the world. I’ve seen dolphins, turtles, and huge reef rays – and a shark! I’ve been caught in a tropical thunderstorm out on the boat, and fallen asleep to the sounds of bush babies in the trees. The locals are friendly and accepting, this is the first time abroad I’ve felt completely free of the tourist bubble and integrated into the community. And if the volunteer lifestyle of living it rough and attempting to break through the language barrier ever gets too much, there’s a picture perfect beach lined with luxurious tourist lodges a couple of minutes walk from camp.