Weekend Safari trip organized by Art in Tanzania

Going on safari in Tanzania if you visit Africa is almost as compulsory required as a trip to Zanzibar. So a group of three already well settled in interns decided to go on a weekend safari provided by the organization. The preparation and arrangement of the trip was well organized. One week before we were registered by a Team leader for the journey. The payment was due to three days before we were leaving on Friday. The short briefing two day before we left hold by our actual safari guide was pretty informative and helpful in terms of what to pack or activity related questions. On Friday after the breakfast we left in our safari jeep to our first stop our accommodation for the first night. On the way to the place we passed the park entrance next to several animals and hers of impalas, monkeys, giraffes and elephants. After the first night we started early at half past seven to our game drive at the Mikumi National Park where we had the chance to spot buffaloes, zebras, hippos and a variety of many more species. In the evening we drove to the second station in the rainforest, to the Udzungwa Mountains National Park. At this park we had the chance to see numerous primates and a big amount of other plants and animals during our hike to the waterfalls as the park has also been dubbed the African Galapagos for its vast variety of endemic species. In the afternoon we went on the way back to Madale at Wazo hill. Summing up for all of us it was a quite pleasant weekend trip organized and conducted by Art in Tanzania.

 

Madale Eco Compound

The new Art in Tanzania Eco Compound is located in Madale, northwest from the center of Dar es Salaam, west of Wazo Hill. The drive from the airport takes approximately 1 hour.

Art in Tanzania’s eco-compound is rising to Wazo Hill, Madale.

Art in Tanzania’s eco-compound is rising next to Wazo Hill, Madale.

The compound is a pilot project for ecological building and living. The aim is to share knowledge and experiences with the local communities.

Volounteers’ accommodation premises have been made out from bamboo.

Volounteers’ accommodation premises have been made from bamboo.

Materials as mud, bamboo, stones and recycled plastic bottles have been used in the building of the compound. All toilets are dry toilets and the water used for “showers” is recycled for the garden. There are not actual showers on the compound, washing is done from washbasins with portable water. Solar power panels are used for room light and for chargers, the compound also has electricity mainly for the computers in the office.

Dry toilet saves a lot of flushing water. The outcome is good for plants.

Dry toilet saves a lot of flushing water. The outcome is good for plants.

Currently there is no organised waste disposal in the area. Organic waste is being composted, plastic bottles are recycled and combustible waste burnt.

The Eco Compund is a work in progress. All ideas and practical solutions from interns and volunteers are much appreciated. You are welcome to participate and share your knowledge.

A day of teaching and medical checks in Sifa Group Foundation orphanage

By Anni Vase & Hanna-Mari Pulli

Sifa Group Foundation Children Centre

One of the orphanages Art in Tanzania supports in Dar es Salaam is an orphanage in Bunju. The Sifa Group Foundation’s orphanage has 32 children of various ages, from one to 16 years old. Some of the older children have a chance to go to school but the rest of the kids rely on the teaching of the volunteers and a local man Erick. Erick is 22 years old and has worked in the orphanage for one year. He does not get paid but hopes that one day his efforts will be noticed. He would like to study engineering but for that he would need a sponsor to pay the fees. Erick speaks English quite well as he spent two years in South-Africa. Besides Erick there are a few other people to takSifa Group Foundation Children Centree care of the daily tasks in the orphanage.

In the beginning of June, we had a chance to visit one of the morning lessons which was held by Art in Tanzania volunteers Kathleen and Maria. The lessons take place in the mornings, usually starting at nine o’clock.

During tSifa Group Foundation Children Centrehe lessons the kids learn English and math along with different games and drawing. At the beginning of our visit the sleeping area was turned into a playing- and teaching area and the children were seated at the desks. The class started with learning the months of the year in English and Swahili. The teacher called months in English and the class repeated them in Swahili and vice versa, followed by a month song that everyone sang together. After half an hour the older kids wrote the months down on paper while the younger kids practiced numbers. All the pencils and notebooks are shared since there are not enough for everyone. When the older kids came back from school, we had a chance to talk with them. For example, Monica (12) and Glory (13) can speak some English but they prefer to communicate by writing.

Sifa Group Foundation Children Centre

On the same day, the kids also got checked by two Art in Tanzania medical volunteers Andy and Cody. The kids’ heartbeat and breathing were tested and minor injuries such as cuts and scratches treated. Luckily majority of the kids are healthy and there were only two kids Andy and Cody would like to check again after a couple of days.

After the class and health checks it was time to play! The children wanted to show their Sifa Group Foundation Children Centreskills with a skipping rope and we joined them in the jumping. Then we gave the children balloons and candy and they were welcomed with huge smiles and joy. The children kept the sweets as their little treasures and wanted to show them to us before eating them. Before we left, the kids also sang for us a song in Swahili. The song was well rehearsed and almost turned us into tears.

Donations such as notebooks, pencils, toys and clothes are needed in the orphanage and some of the older children are in need of sponsor to pay for their school fees. Art in Tanzania is also always looking for new volunteers to make a difference!

Sifa Group Foundation Children CentreSifa Group Foundation Children Centre

A fashion designer volunteers her skill in Tanzania and gains an experience of a life-time

Volunteer Emilie Bendix Hansen at the volunteer house in Dar es Salaam

Volunteer Emilie Bendix Hansen at the volunteer house in Dar es Salaam

Written by Saara Kanula (Finland)
Edited by Lynne Hambury (South Africa) (Originally published on Apr 24, 2014)

Emilie Bendix Hansen is a 22 years old girl from Copenhagen, Denmark. She has been dreaming of coming to Africa for many years. She finally made her dream come true last January when she came to volunteer at Art in Tanzania (AIT).

As a volunteer Emilie has been teaching English in a nursery school in the mornings and Adult English in the afternoons – this is a typical type of volunteer project in AIT. Depending on one’s education, background and interests, one can participate in many other projects made available by AIT. In Emilie’s case, besides teaching, she found a project where she could use her professional skill as a fashion designer.

Emilie graduated last December from Teko Design and Business school and has been designing women’s clothing for Lolly’s Laundry in Denmark. While volunteering  Emilie designed clothes for Art in Tanzania. These items will then be produced by the Getting Older is to Grow (GOIG) Society – a certified Fair Trade producer of unique and sustainable handcrafted products. A non-profit organization founded in 1991, GOIG’s mission is to enable disadvantaged children in Tanzania to reach their full potential through receiving a quality education relevant to their needs. At GOIG the youth is trained to produce quality traditional handcraft products for internal and external market access.

During its start up in 1994 through to 2005, GOIG received significant financial and technical assistance from the Finnish Handcrafts Society and FINNIDA. Now GOIG is collaborating with AIT and producing items for their Fair Trade shop in Dar es Salaam and online shop in Finland.

I had a chance to meet up with Emilie and ask her few questions about her design work at GOIG.

How did the idea arise to design clothes for Art in Tanzania?
The idea came about during a conversation with a team leader at AIT. After finding out that I was a fashion designer, the team leader told me about GOIG and suggested a possibility of working with them to produce a clothing line. I took some time off from my teaching projects and then started designing women’s clothing together with GOIG.

GOIG Modern Schools situated in Dar es Salaam

GOIG Modern Schools situated in Dar es Salaam

How did you find working as a designer in Tanzania?
I knew that would be different from designing in Denmark and before I started I couldn’t really imagine what it would be like. Everything works so differently in Africa compared to where I come from. I came to Africa with an “open” mind but still found some unexpected things. This is not a bad thing as it taught me about a different culture to my own.

The GOIG Society is a very nice organization and the people are very friendly. Just a few workers speak English so communication was a little bit difficult. Luckily I had a Tanzanian co-worker, Jessica, who was fluent in English. At first she was a little bit shy, but when I got to know her, I really liked her and enjoyed working with her. We designed the collection together.

GOIG is located in Dar es Salaam, about half an hours drive from the Bahari Beach volunteer house. The GOIG building is quite modest when one compares it to any of Denmark’s buildings. Working spaces are simple and equipment is quite rudimentary – Workers sew with very old sewing machines.

Staff members (sewers) at the GOIG Society

Staff members (sewers) at the GOIG Society

How does the work differ from a designer’s work in Denmark?
In Denmark students learn how to design clothes and most of the production is done in Asia. At GOIG the teaching concentrates on teaching women to sew, so all of the designed items are made here. The process of making clothes is really different too. I was surprised to see that the workers cut the fabric without a pattern to guide them. Sometimes the outcome works well, however there are many mistakes made and fabric is wasted. Workers have graduated from the GOIG vocational school and some of them are very talented. I was amazed when I saw Jessica making clothes from bed sheets! She didn’t cut the fabric or use any needle or string. All she did was place a few pins where needed and after five minutes there was a really beautiful dress! She is able to make many different styles of dresses like that. This is something I would love to learn. One of the really great things about this project is that I did not have strict guidelines to follow and was able to be highly creative with the collection.

The final product ranges from dresses to back-packs and bags

The final product ranges from dresses to back-packs and bags

From where did the inspiration for the collection come?
The collection, which includes twelve different design pieces, nine for women and three for children, was designed for Finnish markets. In the Women’s collection there are casual, beach and party outfits. We had some instruction about what types of clothes are in demand, but otherwise we could work very independently and be creative. Marjut Valtanen, a team leader at AIT co-ordinating the Fair Trade projects gave us some insight on what would be “IN” next Summer in Finland and that guided the designs. After designing the clothes Jessica and myself chose the fabric we would like to use. We wanted to use the best Tanzanian materials so we chose some ketenge, kanga and batik. The variety of the colours in local markets were amazing. We tried to use the kind of colours that would be suitable in Finland. In Tanzania women use lots of bright colours. Finnish people are more moderate in this respect, so we tried to keep that in mind. At this point the staff is making samples of the designs. I haven’t seen them yet, but I am excited to see what the outcome is. Our plan is that the collection appears in a market next summer.

How would you describe the experience of volunteering at Art in Tanzania?
I have had a really great time – There are many opportunities to see a lot and do many different things. I’ve experienced the school system, done some designing work, planted trees in the Moshi area, been on a safari, swam at the beaches in Zanzibar, taught kids how to swim and even attained a diving licence. Working here is so different from working in Denmark – it is a difficult environment, but really rewarding. Because things happen at a slower pace, I have learnt some patience. One needs to be laid-back and things will happen when everyone is ready. Akuna Matata!

Do you think that volunteers can actually make a change in Tanzania?
Yes, one makes a change by doing little things. For example when teaching in nursery schools, the kids are very happy when just learning new songs and playing different games. Some of the teachers have also adopted new teaching methods from the volunteers. This is a really good thing – some old-fashioned methods practiced before have been replaced with new alternative methods that have increased effectiveness. The most rewarding thing for me has been teaching Adult English. Students are very eager to learn and they are so grateful to get these lessons for free and they really appreciate it. Another great moment was when I taught children to swim and helped one little girl to conquer her fear for water.

What would you say to people who are planning to come to work as a volunteer in Tanzania? One cannot really not prepare for anything one will face here. The best advice is to be open-minded. It is definitely a worth-while experience not to missed!

For more information about the GOIG Societ go to www.goigsociety.org

Kindly contact Marjut Valtanen (marjut[at]artintanzania.org) for more information about volunteering in AIT’s Fair Trade projects.

Very Own Shop

john2Three months ago the house of Art in Tanzania in Dar Es Salaam opened its own fair-trade shop. Supporting the local artist that is in need to find new business strategies than just the usual market places with tens of competitors and their own artist the shop offers jewelry, clothing, paintings, interior design and music.

 

 

John who works as a gardener during the days maintainskangas the shop. He is responsible of contacting the local artist and find the best sources for the shop. At the moment most of the shops customers are the volunteers and tourists coming to stay in the house of Art in Tanzania. In the future though the shop is planned to spread by online sales. At the moment you can already find some of the products in reilunetti.fi, which is a Finnish fair-trade channel. (Originally published on Oct 28, 2013)

Volunteers and staff from Art In Tanzania show off their football skills

By David Kiarie (Originally Published on Sep 26, 2013)

Volunteers and staff from Art In Tanzania will this evening flex their muscles when they meet for a football match at Kondo grounds of Bahari beach.

In the last encounters, the volunteers overpowered their hosts winning two of the three matches they have played.

In the first match the volunteers crashed the 222633_10151235851051930_601836986_n-300x200staff two goals to nail. The match that followed saw the staff spirit dampen further after they lost to the volunteers 2-1. The staff team however managed to beat the volunteers’ 2-3 in their third match.

This evening, the two teams will be meeting for the fourth time this year and the game is expected to be action packed with each team yearning to win.

Besides bringing the volunteers and the staff together, the games offer an opportunity for the volunteers most of who come from other countries an opportunity to interact with locals who turn up in sizeable numbers to spectate.

Volunteer funds construction of a sanitation block at One school in Tegeta, Dar es Salaam

By David Kiarie (Originally published on Sep 26, 2013)

Pupils from One school of Tegeta in Dar es Salaam are a happy lot following the completion of a modern sanitation block at the school.

The toilets were constructed with funds from a volunteer at Art In Tanzania who saw the need for the school to have clean sanitation facilities.

The funds also saw the school connected with piped water by Dar es Salaam Water and Sanitation Company (DAWASCO), bringing to an end the problem of water shortage that the school had to contend with for a long period of time.

“We are glad the pupils now have clean toilets for both boys and girls and a reliable source of clean water that is safe for domestic use,” said the school head Obedi Rusumo.

Rusumo said although the school had been funded to put up a sanitation block, the administration minimized costs and saved enough money to buy a water storage tank and have piped water connected.

“We used to order between 200-300 litres of water daily which cost us between Tsh. 15,000-Tsh.20,000, about 10-13 US dollars. We no longer need the services of the water vendor and we can use the money we are saving for other purposes.

He further said that the ministry of education officials who paid a visit to the school that was facing closure due to poor sanitation have hailed the project and are now in the process of registering the education centre with the government.

“We appreciate the assistance from Carol Wood as a person and Art In Tanzania as an organization,” the head teacher also said that they now want to clear some balance with DAWASCO, put up a ceiling in the classrooms and improve the sporting facilities.

The school with six teachers has two levels of baby and middle classes with pupils age ranging from three and six years old.