Tanzania

Frontier

The Tanzania Dive, Teach & Wildlife project has been informative and hilarious. I not only learned about the defence mechanisms of nudibranchs but also about sharks and fish and stuff. On top of this I also feel i learned more about myself and became more rounded as a person. The staff were really good and made me happy when I was sad and were professional at all times.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Sep 26, 2012
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
8

Frontier

Camp life was basically what it was described as in the briefing, so no surprises there. The staff members have been for the most part, very accomodating & very nice to work with. There were some problems with the initial Project Coordinator, but after she left staff co-operation has only gotten better.
There were several times when simply not enough food was made, but when 35 people are on camp, it can be difficult to provide perfectly everytime.
Diving and camp morale was great and everyone got along well on camp.
Camp duty is a good way to pitch in around camp and do your part, and for the most part everyone did a great job. Overall - loved my time here. The people, especially the staff, were awesome. I am really glad to have spent 4 months on camp. A lot of things can be improved, but again, overall camp life went smooth.

Program: Gap Year
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Sep 17, 2012
Overall:
9
Support:
10
Value:
7

Frontier

Really is just like I expected and better here. The small camp is situated a short walk from the beach, and the communal feel means everyone gets to know everyone else really quickly. The food is basic but tasty with plenty of small shops in the village to supplement with chocolate if you need it.
The best part of the trip is the diving, which is incredible. So far have been diving nearly everyday with a wide variety of dive sites, and when not diving we have been to turtle beaches on nearby islands.

When I arrived I was met at the airport by Frontier staff and guided to my hotel, and then taken to the airport again the next day for the connecting flight to Mafia island where the camp is situated. This is very re-assuring if you aren’t too well travelled or don’t know anywhere good to stay in Dar Es Salaam

Life on camp is relaxed and friendly, with a fair bit of spare time to relax, see different things or just chat to people. Often times people pop down to the beach to swim or to play Frisbee.

Overall the camp works well to create a very friendly, sociable communal feel, with everyone working together to make sure it all runs smoothly. People should be prepared that the camp is quite basic, but this is to be expected and part of the charm. After worrying that there is no TV, you soon start to realise that evenings seem to be better without it. All the other issues that you find inconvenient in your first few days just become forgotten as they just aren’t important

The diving is brilliant and the small island we are situated on is quiet and beautiful.

I would really recommend this project for anyone who is interested, for the experience, the amazing diving and the great people you meet.

Program: Gap Year
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Aug 28, 2012
Overall:
9
Support:
9
Value:
8

Frontier

Overall I thought the project was good and I feel that I have learnt a lot. I liked the fact that we had to do training for the surveys and I thought that the staff made me feel welcome. The food was better than expected and I enjoyed life on camp. I did more dives than I expected to do. Some suggestions that I would make would be maybe to change the webpage for the project because I feel that some of the things advertised on there do not actually happen on the project. Also in the field brief I think it would be a good idea to emphasize bringing a decent roll mat for sleeping on and bringing enough snacks and drinks like hot chocolate. Also it would be nice to maybe have a few more lectures about the research being carried out here because I am quite interested in the science and would like to learn more about the importance of the marine park. I have really enjoyed my time here and 4 weeks was definitely not long enough!

Program: Gap Year
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Aug 28, 2012
Overall:
8
Support:
8
Value:
8

Cross-Cultural Solutions

I spent 4 weeks during the summer of 2012 in Bagamoyo, Tanzania with CCS. I am still trying to figure out how to describe my time there. It was fun, enriching, rewarding, challenging, motivating, awesome. I was placed at a local primary school and taught English to 10 and 11 year olds. They were so welcoming and so much fun. The in-country staff is outstanding and supported us in so many ways. They were friendly and caring and definitely created a home away from home. The programming included awesome events, guest speakers, and field trips. CCS provides a well-rounded experience. I thought I was traveling as a volunteer, but the CCS program was much more than that. I have learned so much about the country of Tanzania and its people. I would highly recommend volunteering with CCS.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Aug 25, 2012
Overall:
10
Support:
10
Value:
9

Institute for Field Research Expeditions - IFRE

In general the experience was quite positive. It seemed that the Kilimanjaro Primary School was not really set up to make very good use of volunteers. However, I believe that we were able to be of some help. We think that the staff did an excellent job of making us comfortable and assisted competently in meeting our needs.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Aug 7, 2012
Overall:
8
Support:
7
Value:
7

Institute for Field Research Expeditions - IFRE

This has been a very interesting and valuable experience to learn more about the developing world and the issues and problems which exist. I have lived in Africa before, so the experience was not entirely new. I volunteered at Kilimanjaro Primary School so was able to view the school system in an intimate manner. The needs were apparent, as the condition of the building was poor, and the supplies, materials and equipment lacking in all respects. Some of the staff were very discouraged, and a teacher's strike occurred during our tenure there. However the staff were eager for our help, and allowed us to have some good experiences with the students. I believe my experience was valuable to me, and helpful to the students and staff. I do believe the experience could have been better if our time there had been anticipated by the school staff.

Program: Volunteer Abroad
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Aug 7, 2012
Overall:
8
Support:
10
Value:
6

Frontier

Frontier Project Reviews

Mafia Island- Teaching and Beaches

Landing on Mafia Island I had complete culture shock! Not in a negative way at all. It was just far from anything I had ever seen. The airport was basically a little shed! Haha. But I arrived safely at camp and ready for the next 6 weeks in Utende Village on the coast of Mafia Island. The village was really small, all the houses are made from sticks, mud and woven palm leaves. They have no running water in their houses and few houses have electricity! One local described it to me as "developing... and developing". The people were some of the friendliest and most welcoming people I have ever met.

I taught English classes at Utende Primary School three days a week to Grades 5 and 7. The school is tiny and the class rooms are really basic, with only a few desks that the children all somehow manage to squeeze on to and a chalkboard. Initially, it was a massive challenge as I spoke little Swahili, but in my free time I prepared lessons and translated them to Swahili and the children seemed to really enjoy the interactive lessons. For some strange reason they love exams and actually asked me to give them a test on telling the time! All of the children came from very poor families and most of them didn't even have shoes or a piece of paper to work on. Before leaving for Tanzania I was able to buy some stationary for the children with some donations to use in my classes as well as some exercise books- which they went CRAZY for!!

I also taught at Chole Island Primary School which out of my whole experience I found this the most difficult. Some of the other volunteers found the students were not as willing to learn as those in Utende, but it was later realised that this was only because the children haven’t received the encouragement that we have through our lives. All they needed was support to give them that confidence boost.

There were only 11 students in my class and only two teachers at the school of 250 students. Although this class proved to be the most challenging it was actually very rewarding teaching grade 7. As this is the last year of primary school, in order to go to secondary school the children must pass their English exams, so it involved a lot of responsibility on the volunteers part. Their understanding of English was far below the level of the syllabus, but after our 6 weeks in the school we had all helped massively in their level of understanding and I was beginning to make the lessons more difficult before handing the class over to the new teaching volunteer. The type of feeling you get from helping a bunch of children learn to tell the time or understand English tenses helping them on their way to a better future is such an indescribable feeling which I had never had. It was amazing to see them develop and grow in such a short time. As long as the project can run with Frontier, these children will be far from the poor life path they set out on.

Sadly, those that don't make it to secondary school begin working at such a young age with an extremely low pay. I had found that I had some free time between teaching and planning lessons so I decided to set up English lessons on camp for anyone in the village that wanted to learn- which would help them get better paid jobs. Over the weeks the attendance grew more and more and I had people of all ages coming along. It was sometimes difficult teaching various levels of English but in the end it worked out perfectly as the more advanced students helped out the beginners which boosted their confidence in using the language. One student I taught called Freddie walked an hour and a half to come to the lessons- once in the torrential rain!! As well as the village lessons, I also taught the two guards on our camp and adult lessons on Chole Island- they were all so grateful for the help.

As well as teaching, we shared camp with the Marine Conservation volunteers, so I had the chance of going out on the boat into the bay every week to help out with the divers tanks for their fish surveys. It was great because the I could go for a snorkel and check out all the tropical fish which was out of this world!

On my last week on Mafia I gave my students lots of presents that I brought from home like sweets, stickers, paper, sharpeners, pencil cases etc etc! But they got sooooo excited for the calculators that I literally had children hanging from my limbs as I walked out the class!! It was so nice to see that something so small to us makes them so happy! I just wish I had brought loads more. Now I am aware that some airline companies allow a charity bag on to the hold section (usually 20-30Kg) for free- on my next trip I definitely plan on bringing a lot more goodies!

Bahari Beach Orphanage, Dar es Salaam

I absolutely loved my time at the Orphanage in Dar es Salaam and I was so sad to leave! The money I paid to Frontier helped in enabling the orphanage to begin to extend the building and improve the facilities they provide. I was able to work with the builders on the construction site painting, plastering, sanding, building walls etc! I told them I was studying architecture and they thought I was a professional and keep asking me for advice...! Hahaha... Within the orphanage there are 37 orphans ranging from 3 months old to 16 years old. Initially it was upsetting to see the living conditions, as due to the lack of funding from the government the building cannot be cared for. Some of the bedrooms on the grounds are made from corrugated iron sheets and most of the beds do not even have mosquito nets. Luckily with the help from Frontier and the volunteers the orphanage will help create a more comfortable and homely place for the children to live. It's already looking so much better and the children are so excited for it to be finished!

Despite their hard lives, the children are so excitable and really enjoy the volunteers company. In the afternoons I went back to the orphanage after they finish school and play games and learn english. They are very friendly and very loud and always greet me like they haven't seen me in weeks! The children always run up to me and give me the biggest hugs. We have art lessons, play football, read stories and they plait my hair everyday (and make my eyes water!!).

Overall this has been such an amazing, rewarding, and overwhelming experience. After taking part in these projects I have not only helped the children and community I worked with but also I have discovered things about myself and the way I live my live. A lot of people think it is a cliché to say it’s life changing, but there is no other way to describe it. These memories will be with me forever. I appreciate the life I have been so lucky to have had so much now and I know I want to devote a large part of my future life to help people that live in poverty.

Kilimanjaro Climb

The Kilimanjaro hike was the most mentally and physically challenging thing I have ever done in my life. But it was, as well as the volunteering, the best thing I have ever done. I am so happy I chose to do it whilst in Tanzania- it would have been a big regret if I hadn’t! I am not a hiker but I trained a little before doing it and I did find it hard but not to the point where I ever felt like giving up. It was a hard slog over 6 days (including coming down) but overall such an amazing achievement, showing dedication and determination!

On summit night we headed for the top (6 hours from Kibo hut) at around 11pm. We trekked for hours in a zigzag pattern in temperatures around -17 degrees! We started to see snow on the rocks which really showed how high we are for there to be snow in Tanzania! Unfortunately, I suffered badly from altitude sickness on the way to Gillmans point (1 hour from the top!) but my determination overthrew all sense and I continued to Gillmans point with my very caring guide. After scuffling up the last few rocks I made it to Gillmans point!!! I had walked 19,230 feet! I was SO happy, overwhelmed and exhausted! The combination of reaching the goal after 4.5 hard days, being at the highest point in Africa as well as being in awe of the huge crater and glacier below me was incredible. That view was something I only ever imagined was in pictures or on TV. Seeing that view with my own eyes was unreal. It was a very emotional experience. We also located Kenya to the north of us and the town of Moshi to the south (we couldn’t see them, only see a thick bed of clouds for 4 days!). If that wasn’t enough, as sunrise began to peek through the clouds in line with the top of Mwenzi peak (a peak to the east of the mountain) I stopped and watched it rise. The 4 days was so worth it for those view moments. On our way down, through the layers of clouds far below us we saw aeroplanes flying low, which really hit just how high in the sky we were!

After the big climax of reaching the top, my friends and I made our way down the mountain that day with all of our guides. Reaching the bottom took 2 days of walking. Despite being extremely tired we were all on such a high from the whole experience and it is something we will never forget. If anyone is contemplating doing the hike, I will always say yes with no hesitation, because it is the most fantastic experience I have ever had and want other people to experience the same.

Program:
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Aug 6, 2012
Overall:
8
Support:
8
Value:
8

Frontier

This is not my first time volunteering but it is my first time volunteering anywhere abroad. At first, I didn’t know what to expect so I was a little apprehensive but pleasantly surprised when I got here. The teaching out here is challenging and rewarding, especially when you get to talk to the locals and begin to understand how much difference you can and do make to lives out here.
I am finding it easy to adjust to island and camp life, here on Mafia Island, and it is made so much easier by the staff on camp and the warmth received by the villagers. After two weeks here I can honestly say that “I really do not want to leave!” So, on a personal note, I am intending to try and stay on for as long as possible and enjoy all the experiences and opportunities that this project and Mafia have to offer. I hope that, when you consider doing this project, you understand that yes it is an adventure and yes it is a once in a life time experience; but also you get as much as you put in.

Program: Gap Year
Location: Tanzania
Posted: Jul 30, 2012
Overall:
10
Support:
8
Value:
8

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

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