By Amy Pitman
Volunteer, Art In Tanzania (Originally Published on Oct 25, 2013)
Art in Tanzania is primarily known for its volunteer work in which people from across the world assist in bettering the community in Tanzania. However, it also has another function: to give locals the opportunity to expand and develop their skills.
Simon Fredrick Simon, 19, is in charge of an internet café at the Dar es Salaam volunteer house. Every afternoon he also teaches IT classes to locals of various ages. His story might have been quite different had Art in Tanzania not given him a chance.
From an early age Simon learnt to earn money to fund his education. In a family where he has a brother and two sisters, finding money for school was difficult.
He first started making money when he was 10 by collecting empty plastic bottles and selling them for recycling. Simon was forced to find money because if he didn’t pay his school fees, he would be punished by caning. He would earn 2,000 Tsh (US $1.25) per a kilogram of bottles. All this money contributed to his education.
Over the next few years, Simon made building blocks for sale, sold mangos and did fishing as well, often selling his produce at a nearby Kunduchi village. His Father taught computer studies and Simon was able to attend some lessons, becoming incredibly interested in the subject. The class was taught in the same room as English, which gave Simon a chance to learn another language. He had a natural gift for IT and was soon given the opportunity by his Father to teach the IT class, eventually progressing to teach English as well.
Simon found out about Art in Tanzania and started volunteering in the IT department. At around the same time he was forced to move out and find a house of his own. He has only been living on his own for seven months.
To begin with a couple of Finnish girls supported him by paying for his rent but soon he was able to secure a job at Art in Tanzania and is now able to support himself although it is still difficult to make ends meet. Along with his monthly salary of 100,000 Tsh, (US $ 62) he is also given 20% of the internet café takings which helps him pay for his bills.
Simon enjoys working and learning, with an aim to continue in the field of IT, perhaps even to go on and teach the subject in a school. The opportunity to work at Art in Tanzania was a chance for him to develop his skills further and to meet a number of different people from across the world.
His plan is to work for the rest of the year before returning to secondary school to complete his studies. He hopes to join university or college to study IT further after his secondary school studies.