Uzi Island needs environmental interns and volunteers

Road to Uzi

Road to Uzi

Uzi is a small island in the south of Zanzibar’s main island, Unguja. The road to Uzi is called Nyeker road; manmade using rocks and stones with at least four types of mangroves on either side. The road to Uzi resembles the partition of the River Nile in the story of Moses; simply mesmerising. The road has been built slowly over 50 years. It started off as a small lane for walking; this was then made wider for the use of bicycles, then for cows and finally it was made even wider for the use of motor vehicles.

The drive to Uzi Island is very beautiful, but very bumpy, if you suffer from motion sickness, be sure to sit at the front of the vehicle or make yourself as comfortable as possible.

Our informative and helpful guide, Isshaka, met us at a resting point, made with the help of volunteers for when the tide comes in. The water can rise up to two metres when there is a full moon. When the tide is high you can goDSC03795 fishing. The land in Zanzibar is so fertile we were able to plant four mangrove seeds each, Twenty (Edward) steps from the resting point, on the right, which fulfilled a personal ambition to plant trees that will definitely grow.

The town to Uzi and has been there for around 10 years along with three wells on the Island that provide drinking water. A Dala Dala, number 334, from Uzi to Stone town takes around one hour.

Uzi baskets made by women's group

Uzi baskets made by women’s group

The main sources of income for the Island are from fishing, farming and carpenter work. There are also woman groups on the island and the woman craft their own fruit baskets that Art in Tanzania export to Finland and also sell on EBay for around 25 Dollars.

Within the mangroves, women from the villages have placed plastic bottles across the water in order to collect two types of seaweed, they use plastic boats to collect these when the tide is high; 100 of these plastic boats were donated by a friend of Isshaka. The seaweed is then made into soaps and sold in order to provide income to the villagers.

helloIsshaka went to school in Uzi then to Ston etown to study further. Isshaka is very passionate about wanting to make a difference and help people live a better life in Uzi. Isshaka does 2 radio broadcasts throughout the week; one where he brings awareness of environmental issues on Uzi Island and what others can do to help, and another broadcast called Sunset Zanzibar, where he talks about tourism and the importance to the island and how tourism can help the island develop.

Uzi grows many fruits such as Mangoes, Oranges, Guava, Yams and Cassava. Alrge Baobab trees also grow in Uzi; the villages used to cut these down, however Isshaka has been campaigning to keep these trees in order to house bee boxes that provide honey to the locals; honey season is September to October. The Baobab fruit when mixed with water and sugar is a good source of Vitamin C.

Biogas from biowaste

Biogas from biowaste

The Island really needs creative interns and volunteers passionate about the environment and sustainable development. Also people that can help the women create innovative arts and crafts in order to sell and help provide an income for many households on Uzi Island.

For volunteering at Uzi  you can contact  Art in Tanzania info (at) artintanzania.org

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.

The first Montessori kindergarten in a Tanzanian government school

The kindergarten in Korongoni primary school in Moshi has improved a lot during the last year. I interviewed the main kindergarten teacher Clara, in the beginning of August 2014.

Clara is a qualified primary school teacher for children in standard three to seven and for children with special needs. However, due to the shortage of teachers in Korongoni primary school she was asked to take over the teaching in the kindergarten in 2010.

The first years were tough. Clara was the only teacher for two groups of more than 30 children, aged four to six years. She had almost no teaching materials; only a piece of chalk and one book for each subject. The desks were too big for the children and there were a lot of holes in the classroom floor.

Korongoni kindergarten before and after

The kindergarten building before and after

Clara was kept very busy throughout the whole day. She was teaching, preparing and serving porridge and washing the dishes before the next group of children arrived. Unfortunately, there wasn’t much time between the two groups which meant no break for the teacher. The sizes of the classes were too big for one teacher to handle and Clara felt that she had to play too many different roles. In addition to the teacher’s role she was sometimes acting like a police and sometimes like a grandma. Repeatedly she felt overwhelmed during and after work and experienced headaches. At the time she was not looking forward to her work days.

In 2013 Marissa, an Art in Tanzania volunteer came to the kindergarten. Marissa and Clara became good friends and Clara started to tell Marissa her dreams on how to improve the kindergarten. Together they created a plan, and Clara and representatives from Art in Tanzania researched prices for the budget. Back in the UK, Marissa with the help of GAGA-UK, raised funds which made making all of the improvements possible. In July 2013, Korongoni primary was able to open the first Montessori government kindergarten in Tanzania. Now the building has been renovated, proper desks, chairs and teaching materials purchased and another teacher, Mary, has been hired.

Korongoni kindergarten before and after 2

The class room before and after

Clara is now extremely happy and says that her dream came true. Nowadays she likes going to work and is very happy that Mary is there to help. Clara also tells that the teachers from standard 1 are very pleased with the children coming from her kindergarten as they already know the basics of reading, writing and counting. The reputation of the kindergarten has spread and many parents want a place for their kids there. Unfortunately, it is not possible to take everyone as then the group sizes would grow too big. At the moment the morning class has 32 children and the afternoon class 35.

Clara says that this kind of improvement is not too expensive and that others could do it too. Her wish for the future is that more people would understand how important it is to educate children when they are very young. Clara would especially want to continue emphasising the teaching of the basics (reading, writing and counting) after kindergarten, in classes 1 and 2.

Volunteers are wanted and needed for teaching English in both the kindergarten and the primary classes in Korongoni. Clara suggests that the volunteers could use different methods (games and play) in teaching and she is convinced that the kids will benefit from the volunteers’ teaching.

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Clara, Marissa and Mary

Text by Hanna-Mari Pulli

Experiences and thoughts about volunteering in Moshi

Millie, Melissa and Selin volunteering in Moshi

Millie, Melissa and Selin volunteering in Moshi

Millie, Melissa and Selin have been volunteering in Moshi in June and July 2014. We wanted to know which projects girls have been participating and what kind volunteer work they have been doing in their projects. We also asked the girls about their expectations on volunteer work as well as about their experiences in Tanzania.

Millie from Britain spent 4 weeks in Moshi. She worked in two different projects during her stay. In the mornings she worked at Chemi Chemi Nursery School helping and teaching the children. In the afternoons she worked at Neema’s Nursery School and Daycare’s project teaching English for teenagers and young adults.

She says that she finds volunteer work very helpful, especially when one is able to teach the things one knows to others as well. “Volunteer work gives learning experiences to both sides and I think that volunteers can get as much of it as the people they are helping”, she says.

Even thought she felt that she couldn’t do as much as she would’ve liked to do to help people, she says that it is important to feel that one can make a difference at least to some. And she really did. Millie told us that the best experience for her was when the girls who she tough English to, invited her to their homes. That made her feel she had done something right and that her work was really worth something to others.

Two Swedish girls, Melissa and Selin, were volunteering in Moshi for 2 weeks. Melissa was volunteering at the same Chemi Chemi Nursery School as Millie did. Selin volunteered at Sango Women Group & Nursery School where she was working with young widows. She tough them basics of business management, counting and financing. She also told them what kind of things they should consider and what they should do if they wanted to start their own business. She studies business management in Sweden which made the teaching easier for her.

We asked also Selin and Melissa about their expectations and they told us that they didn’t really know beforehand what to expect. They knew about the economical problems but still the reality was bit of a shock to them. Even thought there seemed to be lack of many things, they were impressed about the caring and sharing atmosphere people have and how happy people are with so little resources. It is something totally different than in the western world. “It is amazing how much love for example the children have for each other”, they say.

Melissa and Selin both think that volunteering is definitely worth experiencing. It is something one should do in order to truly experience a new culture because it brings you closer to the culture and people than any tourist trip ever would. They say that volunteering shouldn’t be thought as a vacation because you need to have general interest in helping in order to volunteer with full commitment. They also think that teaching as a volunteer work is an important way of helping others. “Education is the key and the most important way of helping. Also donations are needed but they become so much more valuable with the help in making a proper plan on how to use the money given”, girls underline.

Girls were interviewed and the article was written by two volunteers who have been working in Moshi May-July 2014.

“This is our nursery because this is our society” – Neema’s Nursery and Montessory Daycare

Neema’s Nursery and Montessory Daycare at Kiwodea – Saba Saba Moshi – Tanzania started with seven children on 6th of January 2014. Now there are 35 of 3-6 year old children coming to the nursery and daycare. Neema’s Nursery and Montessory Daycare  is located in Moshi. Neema’s Nursery and Montessory Daycare is a private school and the teaching is mainly in English.

Neema Marko, a teacher and the founder of the nursery school, has before been teaching at Khuba Nursery for seven years. It is her longtime dream to help children’s education as someone helped her once. Neema comes from a poor family and as a child she was selling mangos and onions to get by. Her uncle’s friend from Germany decided to sponsor her and so finishing school became possible for Neema. Now she wants to return the favor by helping children who come from difficult life situations to study. Now, along the work in Khuba nursery, Neema started a new nursery school in January 2014 with a help of volunteer from Finland. Neema will finish working in Khuba nursery in December 2014 when her contract there finishes. She has started teaching adult English class for people with no English or writing skills before. Also in this volunteers can help.

Volunteer in Nursery School

Ever since Neema has worked with volunteers in her new project and she has many very good experiences of the co-operation and this is also why she wanted to work with Art In Tanzania as well. Volunteers in Neema’s Nursery and Montessory Daycare teach English, drawing and math. They are also playing with the children.

Volunteer in Nursery School

At the moment there is also a local girl working as a volunteer. She hasn’t been able to get to the collage so for her working is a good working experience even when she is not paid the teacher salary. Neema needs someone there to help her with teaching, cooking and being with children. Also for the days when Neema is not going to be there, the school has to run.

Neema wants to invite many people to come and help the children and there are many ways of helping. Teaching is the most important thing but also sponsoring the nursery is important because the school is reliant on donations. The school lacks of many things, and books, pencils and also the food for the children are needed. Neema is renting the building and also the rents of two rooms, desks, mattresses and water come quite high and the help is needed. “Teaching is the most important help for the children. But I want to tell about the problems we have. It is not to ask for money or force people to donate but so that people know.”, Neema highlights.

Neema's Nursery School and Daycare

Helping children with education and starting a nursery school has been Neema’s longtime dream that has come true. Now the challenge is to keep the dream alive and the school running. When asked what are her future hopes and plans Neema tells that she would like to go and get a diploma for teaching. She dreams of moving to a new building and to expand to having also a primary and a secondary school as a boarding school. Of the shorter term dreams she would like to collect enough money to get dala dala -car to pick the children to school every day. Some of the children live far away and it is hard to get them to come to school. Many stay at home because the parents don’t have the money to pay the transportation to the school.

These are big dreams for her but not impossible. “Me and you. When we share the dreams can come true.”, Neema says. Neema says that even with her name, the nursery school is not hers but community’s. Even if something happens to Neema, the nursery school needs to go on. “This is our nursery because this is our society.”

This text was written by two volunteers who have been working in Neema’s Nursery and Montessory Daycare at Kiwodea in May-June 2014.

At the Nyuki Market – Buying food for volunteers

By Saara Kanula

Emmanuel is a Purchase manager in Art in Tanzania (AIT). He has been working for AIT since 2007. His responsibility is to make sure the volunteers get to eat every day.

Usually volunteers have breakfast, lunch and dinner at the volunteer house. There are four people working in the kitchen to prepare meals. The meals are sometimes typical Tanzanian food such as wali (rice) and maharage (beans) or nyama (meat), Sometimes kitchen ladies prepair western food such as fish and chips or spaghetti and vegetable sauce.

Every day Emmanuel visits the local market in Tegeta called Nyuki Market to buy all the grocery needed. It takes about 15 minutes to go there through a bumby road by Bajaji (three wheal motorcycle) or by pikipiki (two wheel motorcycle).

At the Nyuki market you can buy almost anything. There are big tables with vegetables, fruits, beans and rice. In surroundings there are dozens of small shops where you can buy for example clothes, shoes, meat or even electronic devices.

nyuki

In the early afternoon Nyuki market is not really busy, so it is a good time to do some shopping. In the evenings and on the weekends there are lots of people buying food and the place is filled with greetings and laughter.

The Market Place

Even though there are not many customers the shopping takes some time. Emmanuel needs to go to many different stalls to buy differernt types of food. Furthermore, in Tanzania everything takes a little bit more time than in Europe. People seem to have more time in their hands and one doesn’t need to hurry anywhere. “Europeans have the watch and Africans have the time” as the saying goes.

Food banana (ndizi) is a typical Tanzanian food. It tastes little like a potato and it is usually eaten with meat. It is greener than normal sweet banana. You can usually buy them from a little stalls beside every road. One banana costs around 300 TSH (0,2 USD).

The Market Place

Rice and beans are sold in kilos. One kilo of rice is about 2 000 TSH (1,25 USD) and beans around 2 300 TSH (1,4 USD) Rice and beans are typical luch in Tanzania and Emmanuel also buys them every day.

Dar es Salaam Markets

At the back side of the market place you can buy really fresh chicken (kuku). The chickens are grown elsewhere and brought to the market for sale. You can choose the chickens you want and the they are deplumed while you wait. One chicken is enough meat for dinner for four volunteers.

The Market Place

The Market Place

After shopping Emmanuel brings the food to the volunteer house and kitchen ladies start to make dinner. Today volunteers are having chapatti for dinner. It is a pancake style bread and traditional Tanzanian food usually eaten with soup at breakfast. Today it is served with a sausage, so it resembles a hot dog.

The kitchen in the volunteer house is a typical outdoor Tanzanian kitchen. All the cooking is happening at the fireplace.

Dar es Salaam Markets

The food Emmanuel bought today at the Nuyki market is enough for dinner this evening and for breakfast and lunch for tomorrow. Tomorrow Emmanuel will visit the market place again. He draws up a budget for the food and buys everything needed to make the volunteers fulfilled for the next day.

Asante kwa chakula! (Thank you for the food)

Safari Time!

By Anna Kevin and Emilia Sten

DSCN6872We had chosen a three day volunteer’s safari, containing of a visit to the Masai village, N’gorongoro crater and Lake Manyara. On friday five excited people climbed into the 4×4 driven Land Rover. We were heading to the west, through Arusha aiming for our first stop, the Masai village.

When we arrived, they were already expecting us. The Masai children took our hands and led us into the mystery of their world. Our driver/guide told us how to greet the Masai chief, so we headed towards him with great interest. He is a very powerful man, with 30 wives and 124 children. He was sitting by his cattle, watching over the whole village. The tour took us around the village, and even into their houses. We heard the story of the evil tree and why the Masai are missing a front tooth. We felt free to ask anything. Art in Tanzania is using the safari income to support education in Masai land and volunteers have assisted to build up a nirsery and primary school to the village.

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We then spent the night in Karatu volunteer house. The second day it was time to meet the animals in N’gorongoro. The ride was very bumpy, but the view of the huge crater was amazing. The drive was exciting, because you never knew which animals you were going to meet. Our driver/guide did his best to find all the hiding animals, and he could spot them from a long distance. It was incredible to see the lions sunbathing next to the zebras and gnus. We even got a look at the black rhinos, which are really rare.

DSCN7109The third day was also filled with game watching. This day with a different terrain, because we were heading to Lake Manyara and the jungle. It almost felt like we were in the movie “Planet of the Apes”, since baboons and monkeys were everywhere. Here we could also see the giraffes, which are not living in the crater.

On our way back to Moshi, Kilimanjaro, we visited the optional snake park. Snakes are very hard to spot in the nature, and we wanted to be face to face with the Black Mamba. We also had the chance to try our courage by holding a snake and a baby crocodile. Back in Moshi we washed away all the dust from the safari, but the memories will stay forever.

(Originally published on May 15, 2014)