Author: Sasha Forbes
As part of my gap year, I’ve spent the last 8 weeks volunteering with African Impact in Moshi, Tanzania, and I can’t encourage people enough to do something similar - something completely different and out of their comfort zone. I’ve built a lifetime of memories, and every second is worth it. I promise.
Everything about this trip has been incredible, interesting and insightful so it’s going to be super hard to sum it up in only a few paragraphs! All the projects are amazing, but the one that has stood out for me is the Maasai Literacy program. It is so unique and special. I’ve had the privilege of working with around 15-20 students from the Maasai tribe – a local tribe in the Kilimanjaro Region with a fascinating culture and traditions. They are some of the nicest, friendliest, eager-to-learn people that I have ever met and they have welcomed me and the other volunteers with open arms and gave us a great insight into their life.
Many of the students are illiterate so the project focuses on Kiswahili literacy (reading and writing), which is a second language for most of the students whose mother tongue is Maasai. We also teach basic English conversation using flashcards and games, as they are eager to be able to communicate with volunteers and tourists.
There is a huge range of abilities in the class: from learning to write names and recognizing the alphabet to writing full paragraphs in Kiswahili. The group is split into their different abilities, so each person can get the help and focus they need to progress.
The students are so focused, determined and grateful. It’s incredibly rewarding to see people who work so hard, progress and improve. You are able to communicate with the group through other means despite the language barrier, and it’s amazing how much Swahili and Maasai you will just absorb. The students also have a great sense of humour and love to crack a hilarious joke!
My time here has very sadly come to an end. It’s come around so much quicker than I ever thought it would. Although I’m very sad to be leaving these amazing people and new friends behind, I have experienced something I could never have imagined. Although I was the ‘teacher’, they have also taught me a new culture, a new way of life and given me confidence.
I have experienced a new type of happiness, where I feel completely, entirely happy – just like the smiling people around me. I will miss everyone terribly, but I am so glad and feelso lucky that I got the chance to meet them. I will certainly remember them all. I will be back. I promise.
If, like Sasha, you are interested in volunteering in Tanzania, find out more about your options by checking through the following project pages, or contact us to find out more!