Whenever Tanzania is mentioned, the first thing that comes to mind is the annual migration of wildebeests across the Serengeti-Maasai Mara ecosystem. Because of this and other fantastic wildlife systems, Tanzania has become one of the most visited countries in the world. But there is more to this beautiful nation than just the tourist attractions.
If you’re interested in volunteering in Africa, then Tanzania should be among your destinations of choice. There are many ways you can show love to communities in this country and change lives for the better. From hospital projects to women empowerment, you’ll never run out of options.
However, even as a volunteer, there are several things you’ll need to know before you start such projects. This article aims to discuss some essential tips and various must-know facts about volunteering within the Tanzanian borders.
Important Facts About Tanzania
Before you board a flight, you need to know one or two things about your destination. This way, you’ll avoid unnecessary confusion, and you will also be able to settle in quite quickly. So, apart from the widely-known wildebeest migration, what else should you know about Tanzania?
- Capital City
First, it’s important to note that the largest city in the country is Dar es Salaam (former capital city). However, despite this being one of the best-known cities in the region, Tanzania’s capital city is Dodoma. It was designated for this purpose a few years ago because of its central location compared to Dar es Salaam.
The national language used in all public offices and parliamentary sessions in Tanzania is Swahili. English is also used fairly often in the country. However, it’s worth noting that the country is multilingual, and you’re likely to come across many other indigenous languages.
- Currency and Economy
The local currency used is the Tanzanian Shilling. In terms of the economy, the country has seen tremendous growth over the past few years. In fact, in 2020, it graduated from low-income to lower-middle-income status according to World Bank.
- Religious Makeup
Tanzania is a religious country with over half of the population identifying as Christians. Islam is also popular and represents about one-third of the population. Therefore, you must keep this in mind while planning your volunteer projects to avoid clashing with the local beliefs.
Volunteer Projects in Tanzania
Now that you have an idea about Tanzania as a country, what are some of the volunteer initiatives you can start? As earlier mentioned, there is a wide range of options from which you can choose.
Here are some of the most common projects:
1. Women Empowerment
If your heart is invested in volunteering, then women empowerment might be an area you’d want to touch. Given the traditional beliefs evident among most communities in Tanzania, women still face a lot of discrimination compared to their male counterparts. You can work with great female personalities in the country and give them a voice to fight for their rights.
Of course, understanding the country’s routes will be crucial in this project. This way, you’ll know how, when, and where to cover certain aspects without appearing judgemental. Having an excellent command of English will enhance your communication with the people around you. Such projects typically run for a minimum of two weeks. Therefore, you should be ready to spend this amount of time in the country.
Health is one of the most critical factors in any human’s life. So, if you’re still not sure what your project should focus on, this is another sector to consider. As you make your plans, though, it’s important to note that the health care industry in Tanzania might be different from what you’re used to in your home country. For one, health care insurance is not as popular as you’d expect. As such, access to medical services is highly dependent on one’s income.
There are many ways to get involved in this industry and make a difference. For one, you could volunteer as an intern in some of the public hospitals. These facilities are always very crowded and will definitely use a helping hand. It goes without saying that for your course to be successful, you’ll have some experience in health service, and you should also be passionate about this work.
Our third pick in this list is the education sector. Many Tanzanians don’t have access to proper education for various reasons. First, there is the aspect of finances. Inasmuch as schools are generally affordable, some people still find it hard to pay tuition fees and still manage to put food on the table.
You can volunteer to help such people gain access to education. You might also want to chip in as a volunteer instructor in some of the schools that don’t have enough teachers on board. Of course, a TEFL certificate will come in handy in this project, but Swahili fluency isn’t necessary.
What’s the best time to visit Tanzania?
Having seen what’s in store for you in Tanzania, it’s now time to plan your visit. Like any other country, there are some seasons that are favorable to tourists and other foreigners. It’s, therefore, important that you take note of these months to make it easier for you to plan and run your projects without any distractions.
It’s recommended that you board a flight to this wonderful region between June and September. This is when the country experiences one of its driest seasons. Therefore, visiting during these months will make it convenient in terms of transport and project management. What’s better is that you’ll get a chance to witness the Great Migration as a bonus.
Volunteering in Tanzania can be an amazing experience not only because you’ll get to touch many lives but also because of the attractive wildlife. Some of the main volunteer projects that might be worth your time in the country include women empowerment, education, and health care. Understanding the local traditions and having a good command of English will make your visit to Tanzania a success.