SIC is a NGO that works to empower rural communities in the fight against HIV/AIDS through awareness campaigns, free HIV testing services, and by providing basic care and support to HIV positive individuals.
I decided to volunteer with Support for International Change on a whim. I'm not pre-med or public health, but I had an interest in community development and had always hoped to travel to a non-western country for my abroad experience. SIC is one of the most affordable volunteer abroad experiences and after it all, I definitely feel like every penny was worth it.
Before leaving, SIC staff both in the U.S. and in Tanzania were very helpful in guiding me through/arranging the logistics (air travel, resident permits, ground transportation, etc). Everything was already taken care of and pre-arranged prior to my landing in Tanzania, which made me feel really secure right from the start.
Once in TZ, we had a two week orientation which can feel a little long at times, but really helped us U.S. and U.K. volunteers get to know each other and our Tanzanian counterparts. This allows our whole program to get close and bond before we a split into smaller village teaching groups.
In country, staff was always really responsive to any of our concerns or needs. If we were sick--we were taken to the clinic promptly. When I dropped my cell phone (provided by SIC) down the choo, they got me a replacement as soon as possible. Anything we needed within reason while out in the field, SIC staff does their best to accommodate.
In my village, I had an amazing home stay experience and I even cried when I had to say good-bye to my host mom. Living in the village with families made me feel so connected to the community. I became close with my family and my neighbors and their children etc. And because of it we all felt more invested in teaching HIV/AIDS to them. Learn to pee/poo in full squat and practice your aim. End your teaching days with a very warm bucket shower. Enjoy a high carb, but delicious diet. It is rural life, so these are things to expect. It takes getting used to, but your host families make it incredibly easy for you to adjust. You really shouldn't bank on your host family speaking much English--but this is great as it forces you to learn more and more Swahili--which only helps when you're out teaching.
Your teaching group has a lot of independence and freedom in setting up teachings. The schools expected us, but we set up our schedules, and we sought out other community groups to arrange other teachings. This helped us feel our age as college students and our agency in doing this work. It forced us to take initiative to reach our goals.
We also had weekends off for extra travel. I was able to spend 4 days in Zanzibar and go on a safari. SIC made the arrangements for us at discounted prices. And the U.S./TZ exchange rate is VERY kind to the volunteer pocket.
All in all, I want to go back and I want to stay involved. I'm sure that says it all.