Volunteer ethically and affordably in a TZ orphanage!
98% Rating
(12 Reviews)

Volunteer ethically and affordably in a TZ orphanage!

The Small Things is an NGO working with Nkoaranga orphanage in Tanzania, which holds 30 children from newborns to 5 years of age. We also run a children's village with family-style homes for kids who have aged out of the orphanage, and an outreach program which keeps children in families through economic empowerment and reducing maternal mortality. We welcome enthusiastic, dedicated and hardworking volunteers to join our team!

Our program includes volunteer socials, Swahili lessons, accommodation in a beautiful safe village, and more. You work directly with orphaned kids in our care, ranging from newborns to 9 years old, as a support for the local mamas. These kids will change your life! Let us know if you have special skills, like healthcare, education, social work etc.

As a charity, 100% of proceeds from volunteers go to the costs of your stay or towards improving life for our kids, and no profit is ever made. Visit our site for more on why this matters.

Locations
Africa » Tanzania » Arusha
Africa » Tanzania
Length
1-3 Months
3-6 Months
6-12 Months
1 Year+
Language
English
Housing
Host Family
Hostel
Starting Price
$0.00
Currency
USD
Price Details
Accomodation: $65 a week pays for your room with en-suite bathroom, hot shower, basic internet access, 24 hour guard, kitchen, bedding, mosquito nets, a social area, bi-weekly volunteer socials, a t-shirt, Swahili lessons, and more!

We can also arrange for you to stay with one of our host families located directly behind the volunteer compound for the same amount: $260 a month. $200 goes directly to the family, while the remaining $60 covers your airport pick up and drop off, Swahili lessons, basic internet access at the volunteer compound, and volunteer socials.

What are the costs of volunteering?

Since we are a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting the community, we are less costly than other alternative volunteering organizations in the Arusha area. Currently, volunteer fundraising goals are based upon length of stay; up to 8 weeks,$100/ week. With longer stays than 8 weeks, your fundraising target is reduced, again depending on how long!

For example, if your volunteering stay is 8 weeks:
Accommodation for 2 months: $520
Fundraising target for 2 months: $800
Total $1,320. This is MUCH lower than many organizations charge for accommodation and program fees! 100% of your accommodation goes to paying our rent and light bill; 100% of your fundraising target goes directly to the kids!

While we understand that fundraising can be a little daunting at first, we want to help you help our kids. TST’s fundraising committee and development staff will be more than happy to assist and support you in achieving your fundraising goals.

Questions & Answers

Program Reviews

  • Impact
    94%
  • Support
    92%
  • Fun
    95%
  • Value
    77%
  • Safety
    93%

Program Reviews (12)

Default avatar
Clotilde
Female
21 years old
Milan, italy
Other

You will fall in love with these amazing kids and mamas!!

10/10

The day i arrived in Nkoaranga my grandad passed away. It was a very hard beginning for this kind of experience, that take you out of your comfort zone in every possible way, but this place it's just magic and those wordeful kids and people helped me so much to go on that i will be forever gratefull to them. The orphanage is a wordeful place to go volunteering, the kids will full your heart of pure love and joy, I promise!

Default avatar
Naomi
Female
Thetford, Vermont

Wonderful Place to Volunteer!

10/10

I absolutely loved my time volunteering for The Small Things! The children are beautiful, happy, and loving, and the staff is fantastic! The town of Nkoaranga is sweet and everyone is very friendly too. I would definitely recommend this trip. Tanzania is amazing!

Default avatar
Jef
Male
42 years old
Cheltenham, UK

My time at Nkoaranga Orphanage

9/10

I think we all have personal reasons as to why why we embark on such journeys/adventures. For me it was about taking myself out of my comfort zone. And in the process i fell in love with a bunch of kids. I wouldn't say they were any difficulties as such, things can be a little frustrating but you learn a lot about your tolerance levels. The language barrier was an obvious one, but not insurmountable. One of my best experiences to date

Default avatar
Damien
Male
24 years old
Melbourne, Australia

Best experience EVER

10/10

Changed my life. Beautiful people, beautiful village, beautiful compound, beautiful staff, beautiful Childeren. Your view on your first world life will change when working here. The small things will force an amazing experience. I highly recommend this orphange to anyone.

How can this program be improved?

Nil

Default avatar
Emily
Female
24 years old
Antwerp, Belgium

An experience you will never forget!

10/10

My time in Tanzania has been the most wonderful, exciting and useful experience in my life. We (my boyfriend and I) didn't know what to expect when we went there, it was all left to our imagination. The first day we met some of the volunteers en they went with us to the orphanage for an introduction. In the beginning it was a little overwhelming. Everything was do different then I am used to in Belgium.
Nevertheless in a couple of days I fell in love with all of the children. The are just wonderful and like every other child the love to play, laugh and just be kids. Some of the days you feel exhausted because all of the work in the orphanage, the noise and the running around. But every day was so rewarding!! The kids will find a way to your heart and stay there!

I can't think of anything I would really want to see improved/changed about the program. We didn't stay at the volunteer's compound so we can not really comment about that. We did go there from time to time to hang out with the other volunteers and enjoy the wifi. The housing looked quite basic but they've got everything you need.

For people who are looking to volunteer with TST at the orphanage we have some quick tips:
- Try to take initiative when you're at the orphanage.This way the mamas (women who work there)and the children will get to know and trust you.
- Learn some basic Swahili. The basics are not that difficult and it will help you a lot in you day-to day communication.
- If you're planning on gifting some stuff (toys, clothes,..), ask in advance if they need something specific.

We really loved our stay in Nkoaranga. We met some amazing children and people in general (both locals and other volunteers)!

An experience you will never forget!
Go help the Small Things :-)

Emily & Didier

Default avatar
Lorenzo
Male
24 years old
Milano, Italy
Other

Best experience of my life

10/10

I'm writing this review because the time I spent volunteering in Nkoaranga with The Small Things has been amazing. Everything was just perfect: accomodation (even though It's not what a volunteer is looking for, I ensure a confortable bed really is what you need at the end of the day!), people (all the volunteers and the staff are some of the best people I've ever met) and - last but not least - the kids are incredible. I've been home for three months now since I left Tanzania and I still miss them like the day after I left. I wish I was there to hug them all the time :)

I not only suggest this experience to anyone who is choosing if to go there or not, but I encourage you to write me to ask for opinions privately :) I'll promise I will answer as soon as possibile so... what are you waiting for? :)

Lorenzo

Default avatar
Quentin
Female
19 years old
Boston, Massachusetts

More than I could have hoped for!!

10/10

Volunteering with The Small Things has got to be one of the most surreal and amazing experiences of my life. I didn't exactly know what to expect coming in since it was my first time visiting Africa and also volunteering abroad by myself. However, all of my worries were squashed when I was welcomed into the community with open arms. Everyone- from the other volunteers to the Mamas, staff, and Nkoaranga locals- make sure that you feel right at home! Within weeks, you will feel settled and already have fallen completely in love with the babies and kids (seriously, they're adorable). I highly recommend this program for anyone who wants to experience the rest of the world in the friendliest environment anyone could ask for!

How can this program be improved?

I know this sounds pretty cheesy, but I wouldn't really change anything. Sure, it would have been nice to know a bit more Swahili when conversing with the Mamas, but I wouldn't want to change my experience in any way.

Default avatar
Mark
Male
42 years old
Currently in Turkey, previously from Colorado
University of Georgia

7 Weeks in Nkoaranga

9/10

Since I'm a teacher, I worked both with the older kids at their school and pilot house, as well as the orphanage. Both experiences were well facilitated and rewarding. The kids are generally well behaved and certainly enjoy having you visit. I stayed with a local family who were immensely kind. All the accommodations and facilities were clean and comfortable (flush toilets, beds, hot water, electricity, etc) -- well beyond what I'd expected. It's certainly worth the investment of time and money to be a part of TST.

How can this program be improved?

Getting used to the culture can be hard if you're not used to traveling. It's hard to admit you don't have all the answers and can't fix everything. There was a lot to learn and things seemed disorganized or inefficient at times, though a fair amount is cultural. Also, If you're looking for a place you can party while you're volunteering, this is not it. I don't say that as a negative at all though, just an fyi. The community is a great place to be.

Default avatar
Amy
Female
57 years old
Brooklyn, New York
Oberlin College

Are You Ready to Challenge Yourself?

10/10

I was ready for a challenge when I went to Nkoaranga, and I found it!

Many who volunteer there are young, but I came as an 50-year old who had taken a leave of absence from my job to do this. I wanted to work hard and feel that my work was meaningful, not just to myself but to the people I was helping. I found what I was looking for at the orphanage. Why? The work is hard, but it is also energizing and rewarding. You arrive for your 3-hour shift(s), which can involve everything from changing diapers, dressing, and feeding the children their morning uji, to putting them to bed at night, draping the mosquito netting over their cribs and saying "lala salama" to each one. There are many children, and often lots of noise. It can be chaotic. They want your attention, your affection, your energy - and you want to give them everything you have. I thought it would take me weeks to get to know their names. I knew them all within three days, because I quickly realized they are not just "the children," but individuals, with their own stories, their own personalities. And they are incredible, resilient and wonderful little people.

The mamas who care so expertly for the kids, and whom the kids adore and obey, are friendly and kind but were not there, I quickly realized, to babysit me. Part of my challenge was humbling myself to ask for help, and make my own way a bit - to seize an opportunity to do tasks that needed to be done without being asked, and to fit into the orphanage's culture with as much respect and care as possible.

I was there in the fall, and there were no other volunteers in the volunteer compound with me after the first week of my stay. I thought I would be lonely, and sometimes I was, but it was also wonderful. My room was comfortable and private. Shabani, the compound's guard, was a friendly presence who helped me with my Swahili (helpful hint: bring a Swahili phrase-book). I made a few friends within the tiny village. Again, it was a challenge. I was a mzungu - a tall, blond one at that, so I stood out! I made an effort to learn how to greet people with respect, and they were friendly and responsive back. (Helpful hint #2 - visit Baba Gertrude's village store. He will always greet you warmly and will help you with anything you need. He may invite you to his home for a wonderful dinner!)

The village, located in the foothills of Mount Meru, is lushly surrounded by coffee plants, banana and avocado trees and all kinds of gorgeous flowering plants. It is not known for its nightlife - you have to go to Arusha (about 20 minutes away) for that. But if there are other volunteers there you can easily make your own nightlife because the compound is like your own small campus. Again, with a little effort the joys of being in Nkoaranga reveal themselves.

I think that being an older volunteer made this experience even more meaningful for me. As an example, I was able to use my years of experience as an educator to help the teacher in the orphanage's school. I know there are some older adults (although younger than I) who are planning to volunteer there this summer. I anticipate they too will find it very rewarding. If you bring to the opportunity as much of yourself as you possibly can, it makes it great.

I still miss the kids every day.

How can this program be improved?

The one thing I would change has just been changed! There was no wireless at the volunteer housing compound when I was there, and my phone service was sporadic, so communication with home was tricky. Now there is wireless, which is terrific and life-changing for the volunteer.

Default avatar
Adam
Male
24 years old
CT
Bryant University

Amazing kids

10/10

Orphanage kids are incredible. You will end up wanting to take all of them home with you. The Mama's and staff are welcoming, the guest house is nicest place to stay in the area, and the organization makes it a painless stay. Met so many great volunteers and locals. This is not a program for people searching for a good nightlife scene. This is a program for people who really want to make a difference in kids lives and in the community while living in REAL Tanzania. Not Mzungu paradise!

Default avatar
OliviaLee
Female
24 years old
Utah and California, United States
Brigham Young University

Is it what you're looking for? That is the question.

10/10

You're with the kids usually 3-6 hours a day. Feeding, changing, playing, and keeping them from fighting! It will test your patience and it will show you that you can love more than you ever thought possible. These kids probably won't remember you, but they need the loving hands and laps you have to offer. It's hard to see kids who hunger for attention and barely get it, but it can teach you so much about the world and yourself. The more you get to know the mamas (and, if you're studying medicine or have a medical background, the hospital staff!) through your work and interaction with them, the more you'll learn about Tanzania. Put yourself out there and learn all you can. Be humble and willing to see things from an angle you don't normally use to look at the world.

How can this program be improved?

I wish we could stay with a family because I know I could have learned a lot more and been a lot more immersed that way. But I think it's really hard to find good, safe, friendly, welcoming host families who can provide living accommodations and other supports.

Another thing you should know is if you're not used to or comfortable travelling, you might want a program with more support and supervision. This program assumes that you're a pretty independent adult. I appreciated this aspect, but I've done some travelling and am really independent. Bekka, the on-site coordinator, is a wealth of knowledge for those of us who don't know much about Tanzania, but you have to ask.

I rated the social low because there's no guarantees; it really just depends on the other volunteers who happen to be there at the time! If there aren't many other volunteers in Nkoaranga orphanage, there may be some in Nkoaranga hospital or at nearby orphanages. There aren't exactly many opportunities to "go out", but if that was your priority... I don't know what to say. Also! If you like adventure, try out the amazing wildlife and nature opportunities. I went on a short safari and climbed Kilimanjaro, and they were incredible.

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Romany
Female
24 years old
Uxbridge, London
Brunel University

The great thing is...

9/10

The great thing about volunteering with The Small Things at Nkoaranga Orphanage is you know you are definitely helping and work there goes far beyond spending hours sat with a baby on your lap. You often start the day as the sun rises, walking through the orphanage gate to hear the first murmurs of the babies and from there it is: nappy changing, drying children from their bath, finding clothes, finding shoes, feeding uji, cleaning, putting out laundry, potty training… and then repeat. The Mamas who work there have a lot to do and there is always a way to help them and make their job easier, even just by entertaining the children. If you are interested in volunteering and helping a worthwhile cause, I couldn't recommend working with The Small Things it more. Also, they are flexible and encouraging of you to really experience Tanzania during your stay, so your visit could include climbing Mount Kilimanjaro or going on safari (like mine!) as well as getting to volunteer with the beautiful children.

About The Provider

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We are a small but rapidly growing nonprofit working with orphaned and vulnerable children in Tanzania. We are seeking volunteers to work in our orphanage and children's village, which involves primarily childcare for children 0-8, as well as access to our outreach program. We are

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