Anna volunteered as a teacher assistant at Watoto Wetu in Kimara, Dar Es Salaam, for 2 months and arrived in Winter 2016.
She is from Sweden and at the time she was a law student.
1. What was your first impression when you arrived?
As soon as I arrived, I was impressed by the welcoming atmosphere and the kindness of the people not only at the project, but everywhere in the country. I was treated very well and felt like part of a big family from the start. Quickly enough, I became friend with the staff and many of the children at the centre and I enjoyed teaching and participating in the daily activities.
There were only a few things that bothered me, like the heat, the rain and the muddy roads, but that was because I was not used to them.
I really appreciated having Gabriel as a project coordinator, since he taught me how to get around the city and he would always answer my questions.
2. What was your hosting situation like?
I stayed with a very friendly host family who was always sweet to me. They wanted to include me in their family activities and they always cared about what I was up to. Mama cooked really good food and I was always treated well.
I was happy to stay with a host family because it was a good and fast way to adapt to the new culture.
3. What did your typical day look like?
Every morning, I used to help the teachers at the primary school. I would arrive at the project at around 9 a.m. and I would teach for about three hours. Sometimes I would stand by the blackboard, teaching and asking questions to the children; sometimes I would give them exercises to do and help them with their schoolwork. Most of the times, I used to hold English class and sometimes Math and Science classes as well.
At noon, the school day was over, and we went for lunch. After that, a German volunteer and I used to hold an English class with the older children; the class usually lasted about an hour. Later in the afternoon, I used to socialize and do fun activities with the kids - sometimes I would play with the younger children and other times I would talk to the older ones.
My favourite thing was watching the dance team from the Mazizi Centre, which is another branch of Watoto Wetu - from time to time they would come to the project to rehearse.
I really enjoyed being at the orphanage to help out, so I would go home at around 7 p.m. in the evenings. After eating dinner with my host family, I would watch TV and play some games with the children.
4. What was the most difficult thing about your experience?
I got very frustrated to see the hardship that Tanzanians have to endure when it comes to good education and work opportunities. It is hard to accept that so many young people do not get the possibility to access basic education and have a better future.
5. What was the best thing about your experience?
To get to know so many amazing people and a fantastic culture.
Very seldom in my life I have been treated as kindly as I have been by the people in Tanzania.
6. What did you learn or gain from your volunteer placement?
I learned about the Tanzanian culture as well as how the local communities work.
I experienced so much love at the centre - this love and closeness that I think is a fundamental part of the Tanzanian culture, helps people to find joy in their lives despite the daily challenges they face.
I experienced how life is in Tanzania, what the traditional customs are and how people communicate and treat each other in general. I also learned some Swahili, and I am now trying to improve it.
In every country that I visited there was always a certain atmosphere and I definitely loved the one in Tanzania.
Overall, I am very happy that I got the opportunity to become a volunteer and I feel that I gained so much from my experience in the country and at Watoto Wetu.