Giovanna volunteered at Watoto Wetu in Kimara, Dar Es Salaam, for 1 month and arrived in Autumn 2013.
She is originally from Italy and at the time she had just completed her Master Degree in Media and Development.
1. Why did you choose to volunteer?
Volunteering abroad has always been in my mind. I knew I wanted to feel useful so, once I finished my Master degree, I felt I was ready to embark in such an important experience for me.
1. What was your first impression when you arrived?
As soon as I arrived, I was amazed by Tanzania - everything was so lively and different from home. I immediately fell in love with the country.
The one thing that impressed me the most from the beginning, was the kindness and generosity of the locals, who were giving me so much even if they barely knew me.
2. What was your hosting situation like?
I was living with a host family composed of host mum, host dad, host brother and two other volunteers.
I became really good friends with my host brother and the volunteers - we would hang out when I was at home.
The host family would prepare breakfast and dinner for me, following recipes of the Tanzanian cuisine.
3. What did your typical day look like?
In the morning I would wake up at around 7 a.m., have breakfast and go to the project by 8:30 a.m.
Together with two other volunteers from Germany, we would hold English, Math and Science classes to the kids at the Nursery - we would teach them the numbers, the alphabet and names of the animals. During class I was helping the kids to do their homework, or I was checking their assignments. Classes would run from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. with half an hour break in between - I used this break to play with the kids since I soon established a strong friendship with all of them.
After lunch, I would go back to my favorite activity - entertain the kids. I would leave the project at around 5 p.m. and enjoy my free time.
4. What were you up to when you were not volunteering?
During my time there I got to know so many people - some were volunteers, some others were locals - so when I was not at the project we would meet up somewhere around the city to hang out.
The places we went to the most during weekends, were the mall or one of the many beaches around the city. At night, we would go out to clubs or bars, which Dar is so full of.
One piece of advice that I would give to anyone who wants to do a similar experience, is to bring some nice clothes! People may not necessarily expect it, but Dar and the other Tanzanian towns have clubs and bars just like we have in Europe.. only with better music 🙂
We also spent a whole weekend in Zanzibar, which was unforgettable.
5. What was the most difficult thing about your experience?
I would say that adapting to the different living conditions was the hardest thing I experienced. The shower only had cold water and I didn't have the same facilities I had at home.
Although it was tough at the beginning, I forgot about it all very soon.
6. What was the best thing about your experience?
The best things about my experience were working with children and meeting local people. Everyone I met taught me something fundamental - that we must be kind and generous to each other and everyone deserves to be respected, no matter what their color, religion or social status are. I changed my way to see things and remembered what the important things in life are.
I also appreciated the fact that everyone was so relaxed in Tanzania, with their ""pole pole"" (slowly slowly) phylosophy. This was such a welcomed change from busy London, where I currently live.
7. What did you learn or gain from your volunteer placement?
Volunteering in Tanzania helped me to become a stronger and more independent person.
It opened my mind and taught me so much about the Tanzanian culture. It also helped me to learn how to deal with people from different backgrounds and with different personalities, which is now a very useful skill in my job.
Being a volunteer with United Planet Tanzania changed my life in a way I would have never expected and was definitely the best decision I ever took in my life.