Below you will find the testimonials of former SAIDIA volunteers. Their experiences, challenges and triumphs. As they tell it.
09 Jan 2012
I came through a Swedish agency in 2011 and I worked for two months with Second chance education center on several different projects. Initially I was assigned to do environmental work, primarily planting trees, in which I got lots of help from the students and teachers at Second chance. Together we planted 80 trees along a local road, to keep the soil in place, bring water and protect a diverse fauna. As I went on I got more involved in the school’s projects for self-sustainability which I found important because the school had trouble paying for teachers. To cover these costs the school needs to rely chiefly on international sponsors. To reach these I took on the task of visiting the home of some students to gather information to send to these sponsors. It was a heartbreaking trip out to some very remote locations where the student’s families, most of them farmers, lived in exceptionally poor houses and with little or no money. We visited some wonderful people, many single mothers, who struggled to make ends meet and afford to send their children to school.
The vision for the school is to make it independent from funding and for that purpose several projects have started and others are about to start. Among those, I’ve been working with a vegetable garden, a tree nursery and a chicken project. I also got the opportunity to teach English and other subjects in some extra tuition for the students. Hopefully my stay has assisted the school in some way towards their vision of providing low cost education to unfortunate children from families unable to pay their school fees.
27 Dec 2011
A friend and I just had the pleasure of staying at Honey Badger and working alongside Jenny and Joey for two weeks. To say that they were welcoming, kind and generous would be an understatement. Jenny planned an amazing 3-day safari for us with a the wonderful guide and cook that made the experience as incredible as it was. I also had the opportunity to work with Jenny and Joey as a volunteer and feel my time could not have been better spent. The volunteer activities they planned for us were rewarding and utilized our skills as nurses perfectly. To top it off the grounds of the lodge are breathtaking and the staff are amazingly accommodating! Even though we only spent a short time with them, I know that when I return to Tanzania some time in the future, Joey and Jenny will welcome me back and another amazing Tanzania adventure will begin again :)
Thanks again for everything at Honey Badger! You both were truly an integral part of such an amazing experience for Amanda and I. You were wonderful hosts and we appreciate all that you did to make us feel comfortable and at home so far from our real homes!
27 Dec 2011
I have always dreamed of coming to Africa. It is something I have had my mind set on for years and when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped on it. The 2 weeks I spent in Moshi at Honey Badger were the best 2 weeks of my life. I cannot put into words how appreciative I am for the impact these amazing people had on me. Honey Badger is a place I will always keep close to my heart, as I immediately felt like I had become apart of a family. I would highly recommend this place to anyone who loves to volunteer and who loves to be surrounded by smiling faces. I had the privilege of teaching a first aid class to many individuals who live in Moshi. Being able to see the happiness in their eyes and their eagerness to learn, share, and participate brought tears of joy to my eyes. I can only hope they continue to share what they have learned with others. Thank you Honey Badger and the incredible people of Moshi for stealing my heart and opening my eyes to what is really important in this world.
20 May 2011
I choose SAIDIA Tanzania because of..”the community consciousness of the organisation, I didn’t want to be part of an organisation that was not connected to the community and trying to better it, so that it can one day successfully function without outside aid”
“Great food, love the staff” Pat and Johari really made me feel at home”
“Joey and Jenny were wonderful hosts, very approachable, Amos and David were helpful in organising trips and taking me to town”
“Being a teacher from the US Second chance was the logical placement. I immediately felt welcome and needed and am very happy that I could help in such an important way”“The teachers I worked with are all wonderful, motivated people. I feel really confident that they will continue to work with the new techniques I introduced to them. Having already seen great progress in each class. I am sure that they have leaned and will continue to learn more effective pedagogy”
Mary, May 2011
13 Jan 2009
As we start life here in this new place, I’ve been very aware of our creation of yet another new cycle, a new routine, for our days. Its interesting to see what parts of our daily patterns remain the same in each place we visit – and what is new again and again. One thing that remains the same, is that I want to share the cycle with all of you.
Our life in Mwanza, Tanzania looks a little something like this...
Eric and I wake up around 7:30 in Milestone House, a communal house for SAIDIA Tanzania volunteers in a neighborhood called Bwiru. We have a little breakfast at the house (our latest favorite has been African porridge) and then head to our respective jobs. Every morning, we both work for a small, grass-roots level NGOs. I’m working for BCDSA (Busega Childrens and Development Services Assistance), a group that has programs for women and vulnerable children. Eric is working for DEFESCO (Developing Free Education Services Centers for Orphans), an education project for secondary school aged youth. Both organizations are working with the absolute minimum in terms of resources. The staff at both organizations are currently working as volunteers, with the hopes of one day being paid. They daily struggle with the basics – electricity for the offices, functioning computers, paper/pens – and yet they’re both committed to helping others as much as they are able, with the little they have. It’s an inspiration. And, both Eric and I hope to be of tangible help while we’re here.
In the afternoons, Eric and I are volunteering together for SAIDIA Tanzaniza, the organization helped us come to Tanzania. SAIDIA works with 5 small, grassroots organizations in Mwanza supporting them and placing international volunteers with them. Throughout the process, SAIDIA works as an intermediary between the organizations and the volunteers, ensuring that the work volunteers do is sustainable, truly helpful and a good experience for everyone involved. SAIDIA is a fantastic program – its so practical and is truly making a difference for their partner organizations. Eric and I are helping SAIDIA to develop their organization systems, create new materials and recruit more volunteers. Speaking of recruitment, if you – or anyone you know – is interested in volunteering in Tanzania, I’d definitely recommend checking out www.SAIDIAvolunteer.org.
During our evenings and weekends, Eric and I spend time with the other SAIDIA folks, explore Mwanza and participate in some of the fun activities that other NGO-ish folks have organized (ultimate frisbee, soccer, yoga...). And, yes – Eric is the one playing frisbee and soccer and I am the one doing yoga - just to erase any hilarious images of me attempting ultimate frisbee from your minds!
Life is good here – rich, colorful, hot, beautiful – and there’s so much work to do, so much to discover, so much to learn. So much life to live in this new place.
Molly Matheson, Oct '08
13 Jan 2009
On Monday….Off we went to the other side of town – we had had a tremendous thunderstorm on Sunday, and so the streets were pretty wet and muddy – so picking our way through another lot of side streets and markets, we ended up in another ‘shop’. Again, two tables piled high with computers/monitors and keyboards. Another one was demonstrated to us, and we agreed to do a deal, - after we had bartered a bit, had a printer included, the memory increased and something else added. The deal was done at 500,000 (£250). It was agreed that Joey and I would go back in the morning, with the money (cash!) and we would then bring it to the office.
I then did some food shopping and took a taxi home. Jen then persuaded me to go to Yoga – and I am so glad I did. The yoga session was on the beach at Tunza Lodge, which is a lovely place just near the airport, on the shore of the lake. So there I was, doing Yoga (first time in ages) but what a place to do it, on the shores of Lake Victoria – which is so vast that you do feel it is a sea, and in fact there were waves following the storm of Sunday. Just as we were doing our last relaxing session – the bit where you lay back and chill – it started to rain, just drops here and there – so cooling and relaxing, it was lovely.
So Tuesday – saw the second attempt at holding our workshop. However, first Joey and I went to pay for and collect the computer. This was not a quick job – no – everything here takes more time than you think. First we had to check it was the same computer, then change something for something else, etc. etc. Then the cash had to be counted – biggest note is 10,000 Tz shillings, - It took an age – however – eventually, got the thing in the car and went to the office.
This time, everyone was there – seven people. Each with a piece of paper and a pen in hand and looking at me very expectantly as I walked in. When they realised we had the computer with us, they all stood and clapped us in – great excitement. Then it had to be installed, and it was the usual thing, everyone wanted to help, everything had to be moved, didn’t have enough cables (the same as when we get any new electrical/computer type thing at home) Good start to the workshop I thought!
Did then start the workshop – (partially filmed by Joey for my video diary!) All the participants seems so keen to write down everything I said or wrote on the flip chart (yep we had flip charts up too) that they didn’t really participate as such – and – we had the chap from the computer shop come in (Twice!!) as we had had to call him in to ensure it worked. So it was fun! I do think that we did achieve something though really – because at the end, when we had formally finished, we carried on chatting for a while, and think that they did appreciate what we did, and had learnt something too – maybe….. But then it does all come down to them finding donors – and to do that now, you either need to know what’s going on, or be able to use the internet – so then had to plan computer lessons. (CAB-er’s will draw similarities to CASE training, as I think their knowledge of computers is pretty small, if at all)
Just another little challenge.
Jane, Feb '08
13 Jan 2009
It’s hard to know where to begin describing my SAIDIA time… Initially, it was a case of web browsing and spotting an organisation that looked a bit different from other volunteer organisations, in that it was locally run and was really focused on “sustainable development” (favourite tag-line, but it’s true!). A friend and I decided it seemed interesting, emailed for more information and a couple of months later found ourselves on a plane to Tanzania! Being my first time not only in Tanzania, but also in Africa, the first few days were a bombardment of culture shocks.. Well not so much shocks, but just a feeling a bit like being in day 1 at primary school again. Our host and hostess extrordinaires, Joey and Jenny, however, were great. Flip chart Kiswahili lessons and planning of our social calendar to meet other people living in Mwanza meant it (cheesy as it sounds) did feel like home very quickly. Our dala dala riding skills improved, we could hold a conversation in Swahili consisting of nothing but greetings for at least 15 minutes and most importantly learnt exactly where to go in town to get the best curry, tilapia, chips mayai… I think our introductory few days getting to know the area and just general cultural politenesses were a great help when we began our project. We were working with Nyamagana Watoto AIDS Outreach, a small NGO working in an area just outside of the city, in which high rates of HIV/AIDS and poverty cause people to have great difficulties in fulfilling even basic needs such as food and adequate houses. What soon became apparent was how difficult it can be for a charity that is so small to be able to get government funding and generally carry out the tasks that they need to. We got involved in trying to help document the work that they do and people they are working with. I just have to mention here too that the people we met when visiting the different families were just the most amazing, kind and welcoming people, it really was an inspiration! Our daily routine varied a lot, from riding around the villages on bicycle taxis and speaking to families; to emailing potential funding bodies and typing up organisational profiles; to loading newly purchased mattresses onto a truck for distribution to the families. I think that working with a local charity made the experience very real and gave an insight into how hard it can be to try and get help to where it is needed, but at the same time how absolutely necessary the work is. Overall, it was an experience I wouldn’t change for the world. I really think that work to help communities sustainably develop (there it is again!) to try and reduce the cycle of illness, poverty, lack of education is so valuable. Although there is never going to be a quick fix to some of these problems, seeing and trying to help the steps in the right direction was genuinely rewarding. I was maybe quite naïve going in, but some of the things we saw did shock me. I think that SAIDIA has a really good set-up however, in looking after volunteers and working with smaller charities that couldn’t host volunteers themselves. It gave a good perspective of city and rural life by being able to enjoy all that Mwanza has to offer alongside the volunteering; meeting other people doing amazing work in the city too. Together with idyllic yoga-on-the-beach-at-sunset, ultimate Frisbee work-outs and having the incredible Serengeti literally a stone’s throw away (almost)... I want to go back!
Michelle Kohler, June '08
13 Jan 2009
“Off and running at MSA.” With an 18-month plan mapped out, some £100 food now purchased, and priorities set we have now crossed the starting line. We have identified the room where the Computer Education Centre will be housed. It’s good as it is right at the front of the building, and hopefully with a bit of good signage should be very visible from the main road. It was a bit of a shock when we first opened the doors. Seemingly a few cats have made the room a sort of temporary home and have left evidence both in physical form and pervading aroma of their residence, but with a bit of cleaning we have now marked out where tables, electrics, fans etc need to be located. Moshye went into town to cost out the various items, and then met up with Joey at his favourite lunchtime haunt. You climb some very steep steps and enter what really is like a large corridor with tables on both sides occupying over 80% of the floor space. You sit anywhere and can be joined if you table is not full. There is no menu; the juice is included in the price (and jolly good too), and everyone seems to know what to order. Joey always seems to have the same thing – some sort of liver and kidneys with rice and vegetables. His is what they call a ‘special’. I order nearly my usual, but instead of having samaki / fish with wali / rice I go for matoke (cooked green bananas very popular in Uganda). Anyway we polished all this up using just our right hands, washed them, and paid about £1 each for a very good meal. The lunch had a conclusion with Joey feeling we could get chairs and tables cheaper, so we arranged to go to a couple of Fundi the following day. The metal bashing one is going to make a frame so we can sit some large wooden table tops on them, and a carpenter is going to make the chairs. In the meantime Moshye has had a chap from Vodacom into the centre, and they have promised to do all the wiring / electrics for nothing. When Joey and returned from the Fundi we gave the project the go ahead, and there was a chap floating around with a tape measure. Somehow he now seems to be employed to scrape off the old paintwork, paint the ceiling, and generally get the room in a decent shape so that Joey and I can put the final touches of white gloss paint on the walls. Moshye has been tasked with designing, organizing and establishing the computer course. He will also need a teacher, but he seems to have some-one in mind. Hopefully this will be up and running by the beginning of May, but when I say this to Moshye he looks at me, unperturbed and believing it should be done quicker. Great, but ‘this is Africa you know!’
Donald Komrower, Feb '08
13 Jan 2009
The children at the orphanage are all gorgeous. They are in 2nd hand clothes no different to the rest of the village, but they are so excited to see you whoever you are. There is a huge amount of ceremony here: even I have had to learn the different greetings for an elder, and all the possible answers, and when it is right to use them, and what time of day… the children greet me with Shikamoo which is the greeting for a respected elder, and I have to say Marahaba. Although I’ve also ended up with Auntie Katie, and a lot of Good afternoons, but it’s the girls and women curtsying that gets me. The kids here are better off than the local kids in one respect: they all go to primary school. One of the things I’ll be looking at the end of next week is a sustainable plan that might involve getting some to secondary school: it is rare here: a mere 7% of children in Tz go. They are also fed 3 times a day: semolina-type porridge for breakfast, plain rice or Ugali (maize dough) for lunch, and rise with cabbage or tomato goo for dinner. They get a bit of fish every few days- and it’s fried, that’s the only option.
I’ve been surprised at how much free reign I’ve had on this project. As we were 2 days in by the time I got there I was pleased to be able to get on with it. I walked round the place (it’s a concrete block, half of which is roofed) and Joey and I did a floor plan on which I marked down all the windows as they only have bars- not even mesh or nets, same with the air vents. A massive problem is Malaria; there is no need for them to get it really, if only you can get them window nets. The carpenter can make wood frames and we can nail in mesh. I took note of the beds; they have 9 between 24 of them. They said there was a carpenter in the village, and they got him to us in an hour.
I’m pleased to advise you that we have brought bunk beds to Mkula! (And further I imagine if this carpenter has any sense and a loud enough wife). It took a good hour to describe, draw, demonstrate with old chairs & Joey to translate what on earth one was, but the carpenter got it in the end, agreed a price with ladders thrown in. We picked up the first one yesterday; it literally was 4 men with lathes, sand paper, and hand saws in the dust. How else would you make things with no electricity? 260 of your British pounds have bought ten new hand made beds.
We have also started on the second building. Part of the reason for the lack of beds is the lack of space, and the new building will accommodate 6 – 8 more.
Clear your mind of any building work you have ever seen for this one. Now imagine a dusty patch of part grass part rocks, me, Joey the volunteer coordinator, the old man that owns the land and gave it to the orphanage, one builder, and the local doctor, stood round with a biro, a scrap of paper, a pile of hand made concrete bricks, a measuring tape and a set square a hoe and a spade. Now draw some squares, and start putting sticks you broke of the closest tree into the floor, a few bricks and some string, use the set square to get right angles where you think corners should be, and where you’ve decided where you fancy doors, dig round the outside. Once you have a trench (you need a machetti, which is normal back-of your belt contents out here in the sticks, to get the trench walls straight) fill with mortar, and start the bricks. This is your foundation. Then get building! We have been able to secure two more men to do the brick laying so Joey and I can get on with arranging water. 40 of your English pounds have secured two men for 5 days. Joey and I were surprised that a lot of the funding for the build had not been arranged, so it looks like a great part of what you all raised is going to go into this new building after all.
The water is an issue. There is absolutely no way they can do without it any longer. On Tuesday I went with the children to collect it from the well. We are lucky; it is only a mile down a hill and only a mile back up… The walk down the endless dusty path is hard enough, but when we got to the bottom I found the water to be 10 meters down the well (a hole), and was quickly knocked out of my vertigo when the children (ages 4 – 9) started throwing the buckets on the tatty stolen rope, down into it. I learned how to flick a bucket that day so it falls sideways and fills up, and lord knows how such tiny things haul 12 litres back up again. The children are frighteningly obedient, not just here but everywhere, and bustle to help each other carry the buckets. Even I could not carry one alone, and had to put it on my head, it is the only way.
I did quite well by the way, and any splashes were gratefully received in the stifling heat.
Katie Tucker, Nov '07