Tanzania

Frontier

There’s no doubt that Mafia Island is absolutely stunning. From the moment you step off the plane, its clear that Mafia Island has been able to slip through the net of globalisation, and remains a stunning untouched gem in the Indian Ocean and boasts some of the best weather and most amazing views on the planet, both on land and underwater.
Frontier certainly got the location right.

They do a fantastic job in helping the local cooperative schools and hosting separate English lessons for both adults and children alike by providing not only a platform for future teachers to learn the basics of their professions, but also an essential link between Mafia and the western world. Undoubtedly Frontiers work here is very important and the locals appreciate that immensely, there’s a warm vibe that runs through the community and Frontiers relationship which is something that should be cherished and developed.

Frontier also helps with fish and coral conservation, which spans from conserving the beaches of this stunning island to identifying and noting down fish types and numbers through controlled and well assisted trained dives. This work is undoubtedly excellent in excelling both awareness of the issues surrounding global warming and the destruction of the coral reef and helps to engage young people in nature. Frontier got that right too, because there’s nothing more important than caring for the earth that surrounds us.
Its almost unnecessary for me to review the camp in a sense, because this project isn’t about me necessarily, it’s about the people on this Island and the beautiful surroundings. The camp is basic, yes, but I knew that before I got here and I made that commitment so it’s not really for me to pass judgement on the camp. All I’ll say is that the camp does well in respecting the cultural norms of the surrounding village and is humble enough for it to not be a source of conflict with the local villagers. Frontier does however provide around the clock security in the camp by hiring local people, which can only be a good thing in blending the community and Frontier together and helping to boost the local economy.

The support is excellent also. The staff consists of a wide range of people from the Project Coordinator to the Dive Officer in providing support to the sometimes young volunteers right up to the older volunteers. I found this was extremely reassuring as my first time travelling and I think Frontier does provide the support needed in helping many to adjust to new surroundings. For the most part, people get on well together here and there’s a good feeling of friendship and support here amongst like minded people who have a common aim. I’ve only been here a week and a half and yet its clear that the camp full of friendly and lively individuals who know how to have a good time, but remain focused on the sometimes difficult task ahead.

My only real issue would be one of a lack of price transparency. At a first glance, the website offers a fantastic deal to travellers, with cheap accommodation, food costs and support. However, as time went on I found that money began to fritter away into hidden costs, including the $120 charge to get from Dar Es Salaam to Mafia Island and the high price of Insurance. Bearing in mind that Frontier is a not for profit organisation, I found it slightly inappropriate that they used every possible opportunity to compete with the wider market in offering products ranging from medical kits to mosquito nets. As helpful as these products are, I’ve yet to see where the cash is going exactly as food costs and water costs are extremely low out here as well as teaching materials. Frontier needs to ensure that it’s transparent and efficiently puts the money they gain into the cause they stand for – the local communities they help. Also, I found the general field briefs and the specific ones were somewhat contradictory, including having to ask doctors to prescribe unnecessary drugs that are already out here. This meant more excess costs and although I was able thankfully to cover them, poorer families may not and Frontier should ensure that it remains orientated around its goal of inclusion and helping others in all aspects of its dealings.

If someone asked me again if I’d come here, the answer is yes. The project has frankly bankrupted me and that’s something Frontier needs to work on in the future to ensure everyone gets a fair chance in changing the world in their own small way. That being said, I love it here. You can’t put a price on the joy and help the locals receive from Frontier, and you can’t put a price on the beautiful stars shining over a star spangled blue ocean in the evening. As I said before, I’ve only been here a week and a half into my four week project, but I know that if the last week and a half are anything to go by then they will be fantastic too.

Program: Gap Year
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Jul 25, 2012
Overall:
8
Support:
10
Value:
7

Comments

Hi John, I'm a journalist trying to get in touch with a former conservation volunteer who can give me a rounded view of their experience - the highs and lows, advice for other volunteers and so on. Might you be able to contact me at pjacks@ttgdigital.com? I work for a travel industry magazine called TTG (ttgdigital.com) and would be really interested to hear your views! All the best, Pippa

Institute for Field Research Expeditions - IFRE

My experience in Tanzania was fantastic. Deo is very dedicated to making sure that each volunteer has the best time possible while here. He comes and checks in on us very regularly and is willing to schedule outings for us. Eva and Rosie make the house extremely friendly and I am so sad to be leaving them. They are so nice and happy all of the time, it is impossible to feel uncomfortable around them. They cook great food and are wonderful hosts. Working at Upendo was exhausting but extremely rewarding. The children there are all so sweet and well-behaved, and the women who work there clearly love the children and do everything they can to make sure that the children get what they need. IFRE was not super helpful in setting up this experience though. I had a hard time getting my payment for the program accepted by them and having them acknowledge that they had indeed received the payment. The hassle of IFRE is still worth it to have this experience in Tanzania though. I will never forget my time here, and have enjoyed every moment.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Jul 23, 2012
Overall:
10
Support:
9
Value:
10

Frontier

I have been here almost 2 weeks now and am just settling in on the
island. On arriving at Dar Es Salaam airport, we were met by lovely
Stella with a big hug, who helped us sort money, sim cards and took us
to the domestic airport. We took what seemed like an old WW2 plane
over to Mafia, which was awesome. Our first two days were very
chilled, spent on the beach, playing volleyball. I started my teaching
on the Thursday with adult classes. I was anxious at first, but now I
have settled into the teaching role and I find it very enjoyable.

There is quite a large group of us here at the moment, it is a very
busy period and everyone tends to be all over the place. However, the
evenings and weekends are spent together, either at Mapenzi bar or
reading (we’ve got a large book club going!).

The island is beautiful and I have already had the opportunity to go
snorkelling and experience the marine life a little. Although I
strangely miss home already, the time is going quickly, especially
when I am teaching and I have made many friends here. Everyone is so
friendly.

Access to internet is very unreliable and can be difficult the
majority of the time. We do however have Tanzanian phones here to
contact home, but of course that then costs home a lot. I have 5 weeks
left on Mafia and I will be teaching for 4 of those weeks, I hope to
see my classes (children at Utende Primary and adults) progressing
before I leave, as this was my intention of coming out here.

Program: Gap Year
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Jul 16, 2012
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
7

Quest Overseas

Spent five weeks in a beautiful country and was able to fully emerse myself in the culture along with 12 other friendly and enthusiastic volunteers. Working with locals we helped to construct various school facilities including repair work, building a toilet block, laying classroom foundations, constructing key-hole gardens etc. We also spent a night with a local family helping them with their daily routine and learning about their lives. This was a truly rewarding experience and I would recommend it to anyone who's prepared to put in a bit of hard work to share an amazing experience. I would also recommend the optional Kilimanjaro climb which was the toughest but one of the most incredible experiences of my life. Quest is a great company/charity which truly helps to benefit everyone involved in their trips.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Tanzania
Posted: May 29, 2012
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Quest Overseas

Last summer I went on a Quest Overseas trip to Tanzania for a month. The project involves building a toilet block for a school, and the foundations of another classroom. It was really brilliant - the company have very good pre-trip training with a specially designed day to meet other people on your trip and get to know each other. Once in Tanzania, there was a good balance of leisure time - relaxing by the lake and in the evenings, a safari, a last night party - and working on the school building site. There was a massive involvement with locals which was excellent. A week at a sight without electricity was amazing - cooking on an open fire and eating by torchlight is actually really fun! The fairly small group sizes means you become really close to the rest of your team in a very short space of time. Not only this, but the company holds a reunion night a few months after summer giving everyone the chance to see each other again. I would recommend Quest Overseas to anyone.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Tanzania
Posted: May 28, 2012
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
9

Global Crossroad

I had always wanted to go to Africa, and after much researching I chose to head to Moshi, Tanzania and work at an orphanage through Global Crossroad. Our housing was simple, but more than adequate and Hannah, the coordinators wife always had a nice, hot meal on the table for us. The orphanage was well maintained and the children were absolutely beautiful. Communicating simply through facial expressions and touch was an easy way to bond and give love to these remarkable toddlers and young children. Also, navigating around Moshi was fairly easy, there were days I travelled to and from the orphanage by myself and felt completely safe. I also would go for runs along the dirt roads of our village after my shift, and while I may have gotten a funny look or two, I always felt safe. I will briefly mention that our coordinator in Moshi ended up leaving us abruptly; however, the head of Global Crossroad quickly had a coordinator from a nearby city come and reorganize everything as soon as he was informed of the situation. Global Crossroad was very prompt in assessing the situation and responding and that was very reassuring . I loved my time in Tanzania, and hope that I can return in the near future!

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Tanzania
Posted: May 12, 2012
Overall:
8
Support:
9
Value:
9

Institute for Field Research Expeditions - IFRE

Overall my volunteer experience in Tanzania was very good after getting settled and adjusted to life here and how things work. The week long cultural and language class was very beneficial and helped in the work at Msamaria Center where I did my volunteering. The actual volunteering at Msamaria was not very specific and I had no particular duties, it was up to me to organize anything. Organizing activities was difficult without help from a native Swahili speaker, and with the kids ages so varied it was almost impossible to organize any sort of educational activities. The kids themselves were absolutely amazing and I could not have had a better time with them. With my trip ending now I don't really know how much I have helped them and feel like I more or less just spent the last 3 months playing around with them. I have also been thinking about the amount of volunteers that come through the center for 3 month periods and then leave, this does not do so well for children from the street who have dealt with abandonment in their lives. I don't feel as if this is the best thing for the kids here. As for Moshi town it is a nice place to stay with enough activities to keep you relatively busy, at a cost of course. Plenty of nice places to get a drink on the weekend nights. Town can also be overwhelming with the hawkers and people trying to get you to there shop, where they will for sure try and overcharge you. As for the people working with IFRE in Tanzania, they were very helpful. Some of the very few people here that I could trust. Deo was here for anything I needed or any concerns I had at all. He took care of getting my C permit without any issues which was great. He visited me at the center to see how things were going there, always checking to see if I was feeling ok and could always recommend a nice new place to eat in town. He also helped us book our Safari which was a perfect experience. As for Eva, I could not have asked for a more welcoming and pleasant person to live with for the last three months. She took care of everything, she was always cleaning to house, cooking food and serving our meals very timely. I could have done without spaghetti as much as it was served but for a 3 month stay here that is the only complaint I can come up with. Besides that every other meal was delicious and she was always home to greet me where ever I was coming from. It would have been to be able to give her a break as I felt she was always here everyday cleaning and cooking without a chance to go to town for herself or leave Moshi if she had liked but she never showed signs of disappointment for how hard and how long she worked. She was just lovely. The house I lived in was very nice, modern and quite comfortable besides the heat on some nights but that was expected for a trip to Tanzania. I was lucky enough to have other volunteers here at the house with me for my whole stay, but to be here alone in the house would get quite lonely. With my circumstances, the trip went very well and was happy with my volunteer placement and Msamaria although there was the lack of specific duties. I would recommend this trip to others, just expect an adjustment period.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Tanzania
Posted: May 1, 2012
Overall:
8
Support:
9
Value:
5

Projects Abroad

I volunteered through Projects Abroad at a hospital outside of Arusha, Tanzania. It was a wonderful and life-changing experience and I highly recommend recommend the program. The staff at Projects Abroad were supportive throughout the application process, and in the country. At the same time, the structure of it was such that you can do what you want in your free time, which I also appreciated. I was placed with an amazing host family, although my house was quite far from both town and my placement. (Personally, this wasn't something that bothered me, but it was also not my first time living and working in Africa. Had I not had previous experience on the continent, it may have been overwhelming to be that far away.) Working in the hospital itself was a very humbling and eye opening experience. I would definitely recommend it for anybody interested in working in the medical field- so long as you have a strong stomach! It was at times greusome, and you will be asked to do a lot more than you might expect. Overall, I felt like I made a positive contribution, I am happy I went, and I would definitely do it again.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Mar 19, 2012
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Institute for Field Research Expeditions - IFRE

The program was excellent. The support staff were really good and ensure all volunteers have a great time.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Jan 27, 2012
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

Institute for Field Research Expeditions - IFRE

I had a great time volunteering in Tanzania. The house I stayed at was really great, and I made so many friends with others living there. We were well looked after with Eva and Rosie cooking amazing food, cleaning and providing a lot of support when it was necessary. Deo was also really great in providing support, taking us to town and showing us the ropes. He would often pop round for a chat, even when he was really busy. I got sick at one point and he and Eva both accompanied me to hospital to make sure I was ok.

The volunteer work was really good, the kids were very cute and it was nice to help out. I would have like to stay longer.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Jan 27, 2012
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
10

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