Betina is a Danish volunteer who just spent three weeks on our tourism and enterprise development project in Moshi, at the base of Mt Kilimanjaro.
She is now off to spend a month in Uganda at a community development and gorilla conservation project with Big Beyond.
I have met so many wonderful people through volunteering - of course the people from the different NGOs and the people from the local communities but also other volunteers. Everybody has a different story, but to take time out to volunteer seems to be one of those things that is either sparked by a change in a person's life or the desire to make a change... and I was no different.
I was at a crossroads, I guess I was looking for a different life... if not for forever, then at least for a few months. I needed to slow down, needed to get away from the stressful day to day in London to find the headspace to decide which road to choose.
But choosing to volunteer again was an easy decision. There has been a lot of media coverage lately about volunteering - or voluntourism - and all NGOs seem to get tarred with the same brush all of a sudden, which is totally unreasonable - there are some really great organisations out there, so don't believe everything you read and just do your research.
There are so many reasons to volunteer... It's rewarding to feel that you are helping others, you get to go to some wonderful destinations but most impactful to me is the way you are able to integrate, even in a small way, with the local community.
When volunteering you are able to get insight into the real lives of the people you are trying to help and support. You have the time to get to know them, to understand their culture, their beliefs and what is important to them. You very rarely get that same opportunity when 'just' travelling or being a tourist.
This time I chose to volunteer with African Impact in Moshi, Tanzania - and they lived up to all my expectations. I can honestly say it has been one of the best experiences in my life and it has been the 'different life' I was seeking.
The people involved in the African Impact Moshi project are dedicated, honest and welcoming and the strategic way in which the different initiatives are based on real needs and properly integrated within the local community means that the support given is meaningful and welcomed.
And I really do wish I could have stayed longer in Moshi... but I am beginning a new chapter in my 'different life' - more volunteering, this time in Uganda - and I cannot wait to meet more lovely people, to hear more stories and to add more special experiences