This traveling duo has left behind the concrete jungle to embark on the adventure of a lifetime. They are traveling around South-East Africa through 14 countries, starting in Mombasa and finishing in Cape Town. All of this will be done in their beloved Honey Badger, a modified Landcruiser 76 equipped with a 40L aluminium water tank with pump and shower, 2 fridges, Viper alarm system, and so much more. This African adventure was sparked through their mutual love for the outdoors and a sense of adventure. In addition to their love of adventure, this couple is traveling to volunteer at several teaching and conservation projects and support the charities associated with these projects. Check out their blog post about their experience at our Zanzibar Teaching & Community Project.
Stiff after climbing Kili, worrying slightly about leaving our beloved Honey Badger in Dar es Salaam, and sea-sick after a two-hour ferry ride in a squall, we finally made it to Zanzibar feeling fragile. Our self-pity was to be short-lived, however, and when we arrived at Jambiani we were welcomed by a highly energetic group ranging in age from 17 to 40. Mark and Pauline, the Regional and Project Managers, helped us settle in to our separate dormitories and gave us a quick introduction to the teaching structure and volunteer rules and regulations.
A good night’s sleep was followed by an early bike ride on two rusty bikes which were to be our transport for the next two weeks. Our first ride through Jambiani Village to Sirajatil nursery school was an uncomfortable reminder of bicycle seat purgatory, but the village was beautiful and full of a smiling and welcoming community. We quickly felt at home until we arrived at the school where we were greeted by 50 nursery school children jumping up and down, screaming “Teacher! Teacher!” Within minutes we had become a mobile Jungle Gym. James, the human tree, rarely had fewer than 4 children hanging off him as he walked into the school grounds. Mira had mistakenly worn a skirt and spent her first few minutes battling to keep it on amidst the playful chaos. Somewhat shell-shocked we sat down to watch Rob, a veteran volunteer, run the first lesson. Thankfully African Impact has a robust structure for teaching English, practicing motor skills, singing, etc., so once the children had settled down everything fell quickly into place.
We had a daily schedule of playing, reading and singing songs at Sirajatil, followed by the Nutrition Programme (porridge and snacks) at Ibrahim nursery school, then teaching English, drawing and writing until lunchtime. By midday we had finished with the delightful whipper-snappers and were ready for bed. However, a lunchtime dip in the Indian Ocean watching the ndolphins offered some respite and then we were off to the adult English classes.
The adult lessons were another groin-splitting bike ride away at Kikidini School. The 1.5 hour sessions were rather more relaxing than the nursery schools and also a highly motivating opportunity to meet people who were driven to improve their English and develop their employment prospects. Ages ranged from 17 to 70 years old and most of the students came from Jambiani. Some were hoping to pass Government exams by bettering their English, others were keen to learn how to befriend tourists and sell them souvenirs on the beach. Mira took level 3 and James levels 4 and 5. Each week focused on a new subject, like tourism or global conflict, and a grammar topic such as pronouns or the conditional tense. Lessons were planned a week in advance, supported by the African Impact team and a wealth of text books, but we were also given a lot of freedom to address the needs and learning ability of each class. We both found the Adult classes incredibly rewarding because the tangible impact on the community was so easy to see.
At 5:00pm we started the last lesson of the day. Mira would head off to a women’s teaching project called the ‘Kanga Girls’ and James shared his time between Kids’ Club, a continuation of the human tree experience from the morning, and irrigating the African Impact vegetable patch. By 6pm we would all be back at the house, filthy and exhausted. Most evenings included a group game of Werewolves or the Belgian game. Despite the significant age gap within the group we all got along very well, and James had no issue fitting right in with the teenagers.
Aside from the teaching there were a number of other duties and voluntary activities like harvesting the African Impact garden, collecting rubbish from the beach and helping the staff with whatever they needed for the day. Mira was also out of bed every day at 6:00am to join the morning exercise with the local women on the beach. A full, but extremely fulfilling daily routine.
Weekends began on Friday afternoons, but this was no opportunity to reduce the tempo. The entire group was ready to explore and we started with an Ngalao (small wooden trimaran) trip with snorkeling and fishing for octopuses along the reef. The next day was called ‘Aquaholics’ and was brilliant. We started with scurfing (wakeboarding on a surf board), subwinging (check the Tanzania video for an example), snorkeling and surfing. James was mesmerized by the subwing and could easily have spent the whole weekend gliding through the corals on it – a fantastic invention.
Our second weekend was spent diving at the Mnemba Atoll which is home to an aquarium-like coral reef with fantastic visibility. Unfortunately James’ camera broke and Mira’s dive ended with nausea and loss of balance after catching a cold from the nursery children.
In conclusion, our first African volunteering experience was an ideal combination of hard work, fun, and a clear benefit to the local community. We have every intention of returning to Jambiani and would like to thank the African Impact team for making it possible.
If you would like to support the teaching and community project in Jambiani you can find out more about volunteering here: http://bit.ly/1lAVINM
Alternatively, donations can be made through us here: http://www.gofundme.com/thehoneybadgerdiaries; or directly to The Happy Africa Foundation here: http://www.happyafricafoundation.org/project-detailed.html?pcode=4.