I volunteered at GHTA for 2 months as a Maths teacher, and I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to make a real difference in a community that needs it. GHTA is a relatively small organisation in Moshi where everyone's individual contribution really mattered, and this was perfect for me - you really get out what you put in.
* My review turned out longer than I expected, so I've broken it up into sections for you:
Teaching the Mamas was both a joy and a very humbling experience, as they were just so keen and eager to learn. Each volunteer teacher is paired with a local translator who is familiar with the course, and together we taught the Mamas from 9am-12pm, four days a week (Mon-Thurs). It was challenging at times, trying to figure out how to help them best understand a concept, but patience, perseverance and creativity won through every time. It's particularly rewarding to see how pleased your Mamas are when they realise how much they have learned - especially given that many of them haven't studied past standard 7, and most haven't been in school for many many years.
Every Monday and Thursday from 2-4pm, we ran a play group for our students' children as well as other children who live close to GHTA. Together, we would play football, hopscotch, skip, dance, build lego structures, make arts and crafts, read, colour and draw, and just generally have a good laugh! I really do miss the children, they are funny and energetic and beautiful and so loving.
Fridays were reserved for home visits - this is where we spend the morning visiting a Mama from our school, to meet and get to know her and her family in her home, and observe first hand her living conditions. These home visits gave great insight into how our Mamas lived and I really enjoyed getting to know our Mamas better.
2) FREE TIME
I found that I had plenty of time to experience Tanzanian culture. We volunteers usually spent our weekends exploring Tanzania: We went on Safari to Tarangire NP, Serengeti NP and Ngorogoro Crater (super highly recommended), went to Zanzibar, did a day hike of Kili (though if I had my time again I would have done a whole week hike and skipped the day hike), visited Arusha and Marangu waterfalls. I also visited our watchman's Masai village past Arusha which I found fascinating. During the week, we would hang out in Moshi at the local shops, pools, restaurants and bars, etc... Personally, I loved watching local football matches - there were some at the university next to our school (the winning team won a cow!), as well as a league that my translator played in 20 minutes away from our school. I also bought a guitar from a shop and spent a chunk of time teaching others how to play the guitar – my students were friends of GHTA, our watchmen and even some Mamas! I loved these more personal experiences, and made some really good friends along the way.
3) GHTA - THE ORGANISATION
Monika runs GHTA, and she looks after her volunteers well. She gives us enough guidance so that we have an idea of what to expect in terms of volunteering and living in the volunteer house, but also gives us a lot of independence and freedom to do our own thing. I really liked this approach. Our volunteer house was comfortable and safe and had everything we needed (although electricity and water did turn off every once in a while, but this is a Tanzania wide issue). Monika is honest and a straight shooter, and she'll do her best to help you out. At the same time, it is also up to you to ask her questions and bring things to her attention if you need anything.
I also particularly liked how 100% of my volunteer fee went to supporting the school. The only paid staff are the Tanzanian translators, watchmen, cook and cleaner, and Monika really does try to run the school as efficiently as possible. And the volunteer fee is really very reasonable ($300 a week for the first 4 weeks, and $150 for every week after that).
What also impressed me was how donations to GHTA for particular purposes actually went to those particular purposes. (Eg. Sponsorship intended for supporting a past student's further education actually was used for the past student's further education). As a small organisation, it is easier to track these donations, and I feel comfortable donating money to GHTA because I know that nothing is lost in overhead costs, and will actually go to the 'cause' I ask for the funds to go to.
Sorry for the essay, but I really did love my experience at GHTA and wanted to give you as much information as possible! In short, Moshi and these Mamas are a community that will benefit so much from your decision to volunteer there. It is a welcoming community, and if you immerse yourself into the experience, you will make such a difference and feel incredibly rewarded at the same time. I highly recommend volunteering with GHTA, and am happy to answer any questions you may have - just give me a shout.