Interview with volunteer Rukiye.
All photos are from the day we spent in Snakepark with the kids of Amani orphanage.
Let’s begin with a hard one: Who are you?
I’m Rukiye, 26 years old and I come from Denmark but originally I’m from Turkey. I’m almost done with my studies and soon I can say that I’m a graduated careworker. I already work in nursery schools where my focus is on early childhood development. In addition I have two other jobs and I do volunteer work in Denmark too.
Rukiye and Alex.♥
Why did you decide to come to volunteer in Tanzania?
I have always wanted to come to Africa because since I was a child I have been dreaming of having my own orphanage in this continent. I was looking around in Internet for a long time and visited many web sites of different organizations. I noticed that AIT was the cheapest option so that played a role in my choice too. Couple months ago I finally decided that February would be a good time to go. After that I wrote to a Facebook group and asked if someone would want to come with me because I was too afraid to go alone. Luckily I got one girl to come with me and now we have spent almost a month here. What comes to the country, I didn’t prefer any but I could not be happier that I chose Tanzania.
What kind of volunteer work have you been doing here?
Before coming here I arranged a fundraising through Facebook, Instagram and other social media channels. My family and friends helped me to share the message and I was so happy about how much I managed to collect: 2 739 dollars along with the money I put into it. With this money I bought a lot of toys from Denmark and brought them here because I wanted to give them to the schools and nurseries. Playing is learning and it especially improves children’s motor skills. That is why I wanted to bring toys here. It took from 1 to 2 weeks to visit different places, play with the children and give them the toys and games.
After that we have been visiting more schools and orphanages, observing them and asking what kind of things they would need. Then I have been buying more things such as backpacks, pens, books and other school things, toys, diapers, food… I learnt that you need to be careful when doing this because unfortunately some people only want the money and don’t think about the children’s needs. I have, with the help of others, also arranged a day out with the children of Amani Orphanage and we together also cleaned and painted the walls of a school nearby. I have also been talking to the leader of the orphanage about what it takes to open an orphanage here, how she started etc.
Has something surprised you here?
I really did not expect Africa to be like this. Media gives us only one side of the continent: hunger, poverty, insecurity… Those things exist here but still it is so much more than that. I didn’t expect it to be this green and many places remind me of other countries even in Europe. In addition people, especially children, have surprised me because they get so happy with so little: just by seeing you. I have to say that it feels like home here and I feel safe. Before I came here I was so nervous and scared that something bad would happen to me but here I have not felt fear at all. Despite of that it is important to always be careful.
What has been the best thing here?
People. I’m shy when I don’t feel safe and before this trip I was scared that I wouldn’t find any friends. But I have got so many new friends and I can talk to anyone here. It feels like I have a new family because normally I get homesick very quickly but here I haven’t felt that almost at all.
What has not been that great?
The toilets… Hygiene is obviously not that great here and the dry toilets were not very tempting at first and it took two weeks to get used to them. But that’s just a small thing and you learn to live with everything.
What have you learnt during this trip and what can you bring with you to Denmark?
When we were arranging the day out with the kids, it was the first time in my life when I had to be the leader and people were asking me about everything. I definitely had to come out of my comfort zone and just do it because it was my own plan. Now I feel that I can be responsible for these kind of events and for so many people. But especially here I think you have to have locals helping you and people who you can rely on. I’m glad that the team leaders helped me in so many ways.
This trip has in many ways been an eye-opening journey. I have learnt that I can’t do anything alone and that loyalty is very important. I have gotten many new contacts which could help me when I begin to work towards my dream: my own orphanage. But the most important thing I got from here is friends.
Interview with Joel from Glory of Africa Orphanage
Glory of Africa is an orphanage located in Mivumoni where Art in Tanzania teaches, gives seminars and organizes activities for the kids. Joel and his wife Felista have been running the organization since 2012 and strive to give each kid a promising future by providing them with food, shelter and education. What surprised me is that no kids get adopted, ever. In this interview I asked Joel why this is the case and what happens when the kids grow older.
“How many kids have been adopted from this orphanage?”
“Why do you think children don’t get adopted by foreigners that are often in Tanzania?”
The governmental procedures are very strict. It takes such a long time that inevitably most of the potential parents looking to adopt just give up. Also the orphanages don’t like kids to be adopted. This is because they are scared to give the kids to strangers. It’s always a guess, you never really know what the intentions for the adoption are.
Since most of the kids still have family here, they (kids and family) prefer to stay here. The family sends their kids to the orphanage because they know they will get an education here and stay out of trouble. In the future they expect the kid to come back to the family and provide them with a better future.
The kids who do get adopted are expected to come back to Tanzania after their education to take care of the family. This is an unwritten rule and the decision fundamentally lays fully with the kid, of course. However, the family does expect that. For example some adoption contracts ask the kid to keep in contact with their biological family. This is also because the kid should not forget the country and culture in which he/she was born. This doesn’t happen often though.
“Do Tanzanian families ever adopt Tanzanian children or does this also not happen?”
No. Tanzanian families have enough difficulties in taking care of their own families. So they barely ever adopt a child. The financial situation of most Tanzanian citizens is not strong enough to adopt a child out of their family.
“Are you afraid that people come here do adopt with bad intentions?”
Yes, that always crosses my mind. Sometimes kids get adopted to do chores in the house, to work on the farm, … This is not a good future for them. That’s why I prefer to keep them here until they are grown up and can make decisions on their own. When they turn 18 they can be adopted if they still want to be adopted. Before that age, anything attracts them and they make decisions without thinking. When they regret the decision, they might run away from the adoption family, live on the streets and get in contact with bad people and learn to behave badly.
“How many kids are staying here now?”
35 kids come here daily to get food and education. 7 of the 35 kids are also sleeping here. This is because a lot of the kids here still have family, however they can’t provide for them. Common examples of the children’s situations are having a single, disabled or mentally ill parent or no parents at all with only grandparents or possibly an uncle left. Most of them do keep in touch with their family. This might not be a registered orphanage but the government passes by once in a while and they have the contacts of every kid staying here at the orphanage. The orphanage provides food, shelter and education for kids who need it.
“Do kids want to be adopted? Do they ever mention it?”
No, they like to be at the orphanage. They are surrounded by kids who are the same age, who speak the same language and all of them are in a similar situation. This comforts them and they wouldn’t like it any other way. They feel safe.
“What happens when the kids turn 18?”
When the kid turns 18 he can do whatever he wants. He can go to college, he can go back to his family, he can start working or he can stay at the orphanage. It’s all up to the kid. The kid can also choose the get adopted, but this happens rarely. If the kid gets adopted, he can stay at the family for one month as a trial. If everything works out well and both parties are happy, the adoption can officially go through.
If the kid wants to stay at the orphanage, that is possible if he keeps following the rules. If the kid doesn’t listen, goes out, drinks alcohol, or is badly behaved and influencing the other kids than he/she will no longer be welcome at the orphanage.
“Do they get proper support from the government to build an independent life?”
No the government doesn’t support them. This is because this orphanage is not registered (yet). The orphanage itself barely gets any support from the government as well. Sometimes when the person from the government has a heart he will provide us supplies such as food or mosquito nets. But this depends only on the heart of the person. I also work as a tailor and that enables this orphanage to stay up and running. Sometimes I get donations from people who volunteer here. That helps as well. I don’t like asking for money, if people donate it’s because they proposed it themselves.
Some orphanages exploit the system as a way to earn money. They ask the remaining relatives to give money, they send kids to the city and let them work jobs selling peanuts, for example. When they don’t sell enough peanuts, the kids get kicked out or thrown on to the streets.
“Can kids (financially) go to university after staying in the orphanage?”
Yes, they can but it depends on their own financial situation. If the family saved money to let the kid go to university, he is lucky and he can go. If the family is poor and he wants to go to university, he’ll have to work and study at the same time to be able to pay for his studies.
Written by Alice Coetsier
If you are interested in supporting this orphanage, please click the link below. More information about this project can be found on this gofundme webpage.
“If I had a superpower, it would be to turn white.”
“Your skin is prettier than ours.”
After hearing these quotes from extremely young girls during my first month living in Africa, I started wondering why they would idealize fair skin when theirs is just as beautiful. Billboard advertisements for clothes and jewelry here commonly feature stunning black women, and the children are constantly surrounded by hard-working, black adults who serve as consistent, positive role models. The Tanzanian flag incorporates the color black to represent the Swahili peoples’ pride in the color of their skin; yet, during my stay here, the children have displayed the (sometimes intense) desire to be white.
It wasn’t until I went to the movies to watch The Incredibles 2 that I noticed how many young black children there were at the local theater to watch a film about superheroes- white superheroes.
The Incredibles is a typical kid’s movie—a white family with super powers saving white bystanders, with a single black hero thrown in the mix for “diversity.” I started to think about how different the film would be if The Incredibles family was black, and if Frozone was just the white sidekick.
In my head I went through my list of princesses and superheroes I wanted to be like when I was a younger. Not one was black. Tinkerbell. Superman. Cinderella. Sleeping Beauty.
The hair I wanted to grow out and comb with a fork was a realistic dream because both me and The Little Mermaid have white girl hair.
So what princess is there showing black girls how beautiful their hair can be? Which one shows how pretty and practical the common shaved African head is?
Out of Rotten Tomatoes “Top 100 Kids and Family Movies”, zero star a black character as the lead role. That statistic includes the two movies set in Africa. Black children have the option of either watching a white family heroically raise a safari animal, or watching The Lion King in which only the villains of the plot line have black fur.
Ants are black.
So why are the ants in the animated movie Antz colored white?
If the statistic that 85% of the human brain develops before the age of five is accurate, having adequate representation in children’s media is a huge factor in determining a child’s self-esteem.
African girls and boys deserve to know how wonderful they are, and how wonderful they will grow up to be. They deserve to know that they have just as much of a chance at saving the world or meeting Prince Charming as the white child sitting next to them in the movie theater. They deserve to know that African Beauty isn’t just a song.
They deserve black princesses.
Art in Tanzania work in partnership with clinics and hospitals in the Dar es salaam area to provide medical projects for volunteers who are either fully qualified doctors/nurses or currently in Med School. Around 2 weeks ago, a nurse from Norway, Katja, arrived in Tanzania and has been volunteering at the Faraja Dispensary – a local clinic in Madale; less than a 10 minute walk from the AIT compound.
The Faraja Dispensary is a private clinic that deals with minor surgical procedures and general clinical services such as HIV/AIDS prevention, growth monitoring, child health care services and many others. Malaria diagnosis and treatment was noted as the most common problem dealt with at the clinic. Last week I, along with a fellow media and journalism intern, were able to assist Katja to the clinic to see observe what happens on a typical day. She has mainly been performing injection procedures to treat diseases such as malaria and on Fridays, Katja works alongside nurses assisting with the health care of children in the mother and baby unit of the dispensary.
I got that chance to speak to one of the head doctors in the clinic to learn a little more about the dispensary and some of the issues it deals with. At night the clinic is usually at it’s busiest with doctors and nurses treating injuries resulting from road accidents. With the clinical facilities enabling only the treatment of minor injuries, patients with more serious problems are usually referred to a public hospital obtaining more technical facilities and instruments of a higher quality. Problems faced with the transfer of patients from the Faraja Dispensary to a hospital of higher standards is the availability of transport. Ambulances are not an option for patients coming from the Faraja Dispensary therefore public transport seem to be the only viable option. The patient, then, is responsible for covering the cost of the transport. The cost of health care on top of transport fee is one of the issues faced for many local residents. However, compared to larger scale hospitals and clinics, Faraja Dispensary is one of the cheaper health services in the Madale area. They offer many free vaccinations and the cost of medicine is somewhat affordable for the local residents.
Art in Tanzania offer numerous projects involving medical and health care. As well as working with many hospitals and clinics, volunteers are able to provided community care and health teaching & training to schools and villages in the Dar es Salaam area. They are able to help and assist staff in the clinics as many of them are understaffed; as well as gaining valuable medical experience in an environment different from the norm. One of the largest ongoing projects is the HIV/AIDS awareness seminars in which volunteers are able to raise awareness of these issues to the local community. If you would like to read more about some of the medical projects offered with Art in Tanzania, please do not hesitate to visit our website!
Art in Tanzania receives many different interns and volunteers from different parts of the world, all year round. As an intern myself, it is interesting to meet and live among such a diverse group of people, learn about their home countries and what they are doing with Art in Tanzania. So I decided to interview one intern originally from Japan; Tomoki…
Q: What is your name and where are you from?
A: My name is Tomoki Noguchi and originally I am from Japan but I go to university in New York in the US.
Q: How long have you been in Tanzania?
A: So far I have been here for 15 days and I am staying for 1 month. So I’m about half way through. It is also my first time in Africa.
Q: Where did you hear about Art in Tanzania?
A: I heard about Art in Tanzania through my university on the internship website. AIT was posted on the webpage. Also, one of my friends came here last year so he told me all about it.
Q: What is your job as an intern with Art in Tanzania?
A: I am working on sanitation projects. So currently I am analysing the efficiency of composting/dry toilets. In the future Art in Tanzania are hoping to put dry toilet systems in schools all across Tanzania and I am helping to do the research for this.
Q: Is living in Tanzania very different to living in your home country?
A: Yeah, of course, no place is the same. The roads here are rubbish, I hate shaking. I get stomachache and headache, the government should fix that; there should be pavement. I don’t understand, that should be top priority – I was shocked.
Q: What are you enjoying most about Tanzania?
A: I enjoy making new friends from all over the world. Some of the food I enjoy but some I don’t really like. I haven’t tried much traditional food but I really like cassava. I’m used to eating things like chapatis and cassava so it’s good.
Q: What do you miss most about your home?
A: I don’t really miss America that much. I’ve been missing many things from Japan. For example sanitation and traditional Japanese food, of course. Tokyo city overall. But what i’ve been missing is the culture in more developed countries. When I went to the hospital I didn’t feel like they were professional or had the responsibility of doctors.
Q: Do you think you will come back and visit?
A: I would definitely like to come back and visit Moshi to see Kilimajaro and may be even climb it. I would also like to see a national park.
“I’m really enjoying my time in Tanzania because of the people here, everyone is so friendly and welcoming, especially JJ!”
‘TIA: This Is Africa’
Used to explain the laid back, relaxed, African way of living: ‘This is Africa‘ is a common phrase heard around the volunteer compound and Dar es Salaam in general. Despite working on bongo time (african timing), having TIA permanently carved into my brain, and adjusting to a less structured way of living; 5pm on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday—without fail—is the time scheduled for the evening English class. Putting spelling and grammar aside, last Mondays lesson was a little bit different. I decided to interview one of the students that regularly attends the class; Zabron. You see, I may know that Zabron can identify the subject, verb and object in a sentence, and I know that he can explain the difference between and adjective and an adverb; but I don’t know much about him. So I introduce, to you, Zabron Anthony…
Q: What is your name and where do you live?
A: My name is Zabron Anthony. I live at Bagamoyo in Kiharaka Village and have been living in that place for 9 years.
Q: And where did you grow up?
A: I was born in Shinyanga and from here that is about 1,000km. My parents were living in poverty so they could not afford to send me to school. I have been faced with a lot of challenges but I am really thankful for and enjoy the English classes.
Q: What is your everyday job?
A: My job is that I am a security guard in Mbweni. This job helps me to pay school fees and I have only been working there since 2014 because of school. I plan to leave this job when I start school again. From my home to Mbweni is 2 hours because I walk but other days I use public transport. I don’t enjoy this job very much because of low wages.
Q: Do you get a chance to practice what you learn at the English classes in your job?
A: A lot of people at my job only speak Swahili and that is a challenge I have because they don’t like to learn things that help you to advance. But at the moment I like to learn from my phone away from the English classes. I like looking at the lyrics of songs. When I have a chance I watch the BBC and when I do not have chance to watch TV I just watch my phone. If I am busy at work I listen to the radio so that I can learn the pronunciation and my aim is to learn English and speak it like you.
Q: And how long have you been coming to the English classes?
A: I have been coming to these classes for a long time. I started with Art in Tanzania in 2014 for 4 months but left because of school. I finished school last year so this year I come to AIT as to improve my language because I like to know English.
Q: Is your school/college English speaking?
A: There is English speaking at the college and there is also French but they favour English when they want people to join the college.
Q: And finally, what do you hope to do with English in the near future?
A: In the Near future this English will help me to join the college next year, I am trying to learn good things that will help me in the future. I would like to visit England but I haven’t the support. If I get the support it would be good because I can meet more people who will help me learn. If it will happen even for only one month it will be really good.
“When I learn English I have the opportunity to do a lot because it is an international language”
Art in Tanzania volunteers and interns are working to help support and to benefit
people within the local community. Providing English classes like these give locals a chance to improve their understanding and competence within the language; overall
giving them more opportunities. To read more about some of the education programmes offered by Art in Tanzania you can visit our website .