“Seeing the world to save the world”
Christine Wambui, a law student in the University of Nairobi and also a member of AIESEC, spent her school holiday volunteering in Tanzania. Here is what she had to say about her experience.
CW: How long were you in Tanzania?
W: Around 7 weeks
CW: Why and when did you go to Tanzania?
W:Well, I wanted to try something different for my long holiday. So I decided to go for exchange through AIESEC. I picked Tanzania because beach is life. 😀 Secondly, the projects that the country offered seemed really interesting. Lastly, I’d never been there so I figured why not?
CW:Where were you staying during your visit?
W: We were in Dar es Salaam, more specifically in Ungindoni, Kigamboni
CW: What was your first impression of the place?
W:The heat! Man the heat there isn’t normal! Even when it rained, it was still hot. So you’ll probably be buying a bottle, or two, of water every day.
Other than that, I don’t really think I went through any culture shock because there was a weird sense of familiarity in Dar. It was not too different from Nairobi.
CW: How are the people?
W:The people are friendly especially in Ungindoni. Everyone greeted everyone!. It was either a casual ‘Mambo?’ or ‘Za asubuhi?’ or an even more respectful ‘Shikamoo’.
For some reason, everyone kept saying how much they like Kenyan Swahili. All that time I was thinking, ‘Can you actually hear me speaking?’ I definitely wasn’t making any of my Kiswahili teachers proud 😀
CW: How was the volunteering part of your stay?
W: I picked the Bridge project where we were teaching high school students about personal development. This was a project that had been running for quite a while even before we came so we would ask them what they wanted to learn, then we would prepare a lesson plan and teach them. At first, we (I was doing the project with my friend, Cess) were quite nervous. None of us had any kind of teaching experience but once we buckled down and actually did it, we realised it wasn’t too bad. We definitely learned a lot from that experience especially about Tanzanian politics as it was around the time they were having their elections.
Later on, we also got the opportunity to do another project since the students began their national exams. This other one was very different; we would be helping teachers in a Kindergarten in Ungindoni. For some reason, we were both even more anxious about this project since we’d be working with small kids and they can be quite intimidating. Thankfully, it worked out well. Those kids were amazing. They were incredibly playful and really smart, we had a lot of fun with them.
CW: For the touristy part of your stay, where did you visit and what was your favourite attraction?
W: Around Dar, I first started with Mwenga Market. It was their version of Masaai Market. So you could get any kind of touristy souvenir from paintings, to diras and even leather accessories. Also, we visited Kariokor market. That place is huge! And they sell literally everything there. It starts around with fruits and vegetables, then clothes, shoes electronics. So if you’re ever planning on going there, wear comfortable shoes because you will be walking for a while.
We also went to Fun City Water Park. We got there and we were the only people there in the whole park, well apart from the workers; we were four. They had insane rides. They even had one of those bull-riding things where you win 200,000 Tshs (approx. 9,500 Kshs).
Outside Dar, we made a day trip to Bagamoyo, which has quite a number of historical sites. We visited Caravan Serai, Kaole ruins, the hanging place in Bagamoyo, the oldest Roman Catholic Church, the Grave yard for German soldiers and the crocodile farm. What was most interesting was the fact that the entrance fees to most of these places was negotiable. That never happens in Kenya, so we got to save a bit of money because of that.
Lastly, we went to Zanzibar. It’s like the cherry on top of the sundae that is Tanzania. It was really beautiful and the people there are too friendly almost to the point that you think they’re up to something but they are not. They’re just who they are. Here we visited Stone town. We got to all the sites there like the old Dispensary, the House of Wonders, the Old Fort, Mercury House, Lukman restaurant (they have amazing food there btw) and Prison Island. While we were there we stayed in Nungwi guesthouse, it was two minutes from the beach. The host was really nice, he made for us the best fish the first night we stayed there. I highly recommend using AirBnb, if you want affordable accommodation.
CW: Ate any Tanzanian food?
W: They have this thing called chips mayai, they call it zege. Basically after frying your chips, you put it in a smaller pan, then you crack an egg on top. You serve it when the egg is ready. I never really got into it but many people enjoy it. You can get it in every chips joint there.
Other than that, I also had the Swahili meals and snacks. That includes pilau, biryani, vitumbua and kashata. Also tamarind (ukwaju) juice, which is very refreshing.
CW:As a Kenyan, how would you compare the two countries?
W: Kenya is definitely more expensive in many aspects. For example in the transport sector, the daladala fare for anywhere within Dar es Salaam was never higher than 600 Tshs (approx.30 Kshs) meanwhile in Kenya, that amount of money would get you only to Parklands or Ngara which is just 10 minutes from the CBD.
Another thing I noted was that I never heard anyone speaking in their tribal language, everyone used Swahili, unlike in Kenya where some people have been using tribal languages all their life and can barely speak Swahili which is our national language.
CW:What did you like most about your trip?
W: I really loved the beach. We had a beach that was around 15 minutes from where we lived, so we really took advantage of that.
Also, hanging out with the other interns that were there, comparing stories about our different countries. Some of those interns are really well-travelled. They gave me wanderlust.
Most of all, I loved the feeling of getting to discover a whole other environment. Especially when I was in Zanzibar with Cess, we decided to explore Stone town without a tour guide. That was a bit challenging but thank God for Google maps. It was definitely one of major highlights of my trip.
CW:What did you dislike most about your trip?
W: Just the heat mostly, but I think I kind of got used to it. I mean I still felt hot, I just didn’t complain about it as much .Although there was no greater feeling than entering an air-conditioned building. It was heaven 😀
Ooh, also, I didn’t like that the daladalas carry excess passengers. So basically even if all the seats are filled, more people still come in and they have to stand. God forbid, you’re tall and it’s a small daladala, that neck pain:/
CW:How much money do you think one requires if they were going on exchange to Tanzania for 6 weeks?
W: Well, without including your transport getting there or travel insurance, around between 50 and 60 thousand Kenyan shillings should be enough(500-600$). However, this amount would definitely increase if you would want to travel more within Tanzania. My accommodation was only 100 dollars since I was staying at an intern house but I’m pretty sure there even more affordable options in Air bnb.
CW:Any travel advice for anyone thinking about going to Tanzania?
W:Carry light clothes, or clothes made from breathable material. Also, you can use the internet to find a lot of cool things to do and places to see in Tanzania. Lastly, don’t forget your sunblock!
Interested in reading more about Volunteering in Tanzania or simply travelling? Then head over to my friend, Cecilia’s blog, Trotts & Treats and enjoy the read!
Have a lovely week! 🙂