Volunteer Interview – Karmen

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Karmen from Australia, age 36 who has an infectious laugh, loves travelling, meeting new people and shopping, has been volunteering at Al Qawiyyi School and Zanzibar Youth Alliance.

What have kind of activities have you been doing as a volunteer?

I have been assisting the teacher in different classes each week such as nursery, form 2 and standard 2 at school and I have been helping the womans group with cooking at the youth centre.

What made you volunteer with Arts in Tanzania? What has been the best part of being with Arts in Tanzania?

I wanted to volunteer because I am looking for a change career but have been unsure about what I want to move onto. The travel agent in Australia recommended real gap to volunteer through. The best part of being with Art In Tanzania has been meeting people in the house that I wouldn’t otherwise meet.

What have you liked about assisting in Al Quwiyyi School and Zanzibar Youth Alliance youth centre?

I’ve enjoyed the interaction with the children and learning Arabic and Swahili. I’ve also enjoyed learning about Ramadan and Eid. At the youth centre I’ve enjoyed learning to cook dishes I never knew how through the woman’s group. So much so I could open an African restaurant in Australia!

Has the experience changed you as a person?

Yes, it has made me more appreciative of what I have at home. Before I left I was thinking of going into social work and the experience has confirmed this.

What advice would give to volunteers wanting to teach-volunteer?

  1. Just do it
  2. It does take a few days for the children to open up so it makes a difference if you stay longer at the school. I planned to do 8 weeks, but you could do 4 weeks.
  3. Have a few resources such as educational games to help you in the classroom
  4. Be open to experiencing something different by exploring the Island after school and at the weekend to get the most out of your time.
  5. If you’re travelling alone it is better to stay in a volunteer house and if you’re female then be prepared to wear a headscarf and full dress in school and perhaps when you are out.

 

 

‘Smile in a Bag’ Easter Donations 2014

In 2012 Laura Isaac travelled to Tanzania to volunteer with children from deprived backgrounds, and to learn about their culture and way of life.

Jiwe Gumu - Laura Isaac Donation

During her stay Laura volunteered at Jiwe Gumu School, founded in 2003 and situated in the village of Mtongani, around 2 km from the Volunteer House.

Approximately 70 students between the ages of 3-5 attend the school and the students are divided into two (sometimes three classes). The school is funded by the headmaster Teacher Kennedy and takes in orphans and street children free of charge. The teachers are not fully qualified; therefore assistance is appreciated.

Laura said about her experience, “I thoroughly enjoyed working at the school – the children are so happy and teacher Kennedy was so welcoming. I enjoyed teaching the children, and adapted to working with very little resources. The best part for me was singing, playing and laughing with the children, and just seeing their huge smiles and hearing their laughter. It has been one of the best experiences of my life.”

Jiwe Gumu Nursery School Volunteering TanzaniaBefore arriving in Tanzania Laura and her friend Jodie decided to fundraise an amount of money that assisted in buying a range of school supplies, craft materials, toys for the children and some clothes.

After volunteering, having returned to the UK, Laura decided that she wanted to continue helping and supporting the children of Jiwe Gumu School.

Laura works at Llanfair Caereinion Primary School in Wales which has just over 200 pupils. Laura presented her journey to the pupils when she returned, showing a range of pictures, and sharing her stories.

Jiwe Gumu Nursery School Volunteering TanzaniaTogether they decided to create the ‘Smile in a Bag’ project. This project gave the children of Llanfair Caereinion Primary school the opportunity to donate educational supplies, toiletries, toys, clothes, books, teddies and much more. Laura along with the help of her family transferred the donations into tote bags, some for boys and some for girls, making sure that they were all equal. Laura then had the bags shipped over to Tanzania for the children. She said “It gives the children at Caereinion Primary School an opportunity to learn about other children who come from deprived backgrounds. It teaches them to think of others, to be kind, to share, and to care for others less fortunate than themselves. There is no better feeling than receiving the pictures of the children receiving their gift bags, and seeing the smiles on their faces. Everyone can make a difference, and every little bit counts.”

In 2012, 139 bags were donatedJiwe Gumu Nursery School Volunteering Tanzania

In 2013, 94 bags and 80 T-shirts printed with the school’s logo were donated from Caereinion Primary School.

With the aid of the volunteers from Art in Tanzania, this year’s donation was made during Easter time. It was a fun day with many activities like face-painting, singing and dancing and many happy faces as the bags were given to the children.

If anyone would like to get involved in ‘Smile in a Bag’, a donation towards the shipping costs of the bags to Tanzania is much appreciated. For more information about how you can help kindly contact Laura Isaac at rssl123(at)live.co.uk

Every bit helps!

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Sober House Art

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The future Art Gallery and Cafe

When wandering through the alleys and byways of Stone Town, every once in a while you’ll come up to a little square, a little breathing space. It’s at one of these that I am to meet Kasim Nyuni and Saleh, the driving forces behind an upcoming art gallery. When I get there – through the able guidance of my fellow AIT volunteer Sue Wagstaff – we find Kasim negotiating with a carpenter in rapid Swahili. The whitewashed house with the L-shaped patio will not only serve as an art gallery, but also as a cafe and Bed & Breakfast, Sue explains, so new furniture is required.

When we sit down to talk, Kasim and Saleh explain to me that this won’t be a regular art gallery. All the art for sale will be produced by recovering addicts and the proceeds will flow back to the NGO that supports their recovery. “Quitting drugs isn’t enough,” explains Kasim, “You need to change your outlook on life.” Kasim, himself a former addict, has devoted his life to helping others recover from their addictions. In the sober houses, recovering addicts can take part in various activities: English classes, computer classes, art classes. “People don’t come to us because they want to be artists, they come to us because they want to stop being addicts. But in the course of their programme, we often discover their talent and help them develop it.”

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Meeting the “fundhi”, the carpenter

Sue, who worked as an AIT volunteer at the sober house last year, is back to help them set up the art gallery, as well as teaching art at the sober house. “These aren’t trained artists,” she explains, “They’ve been on the street, on the outside, their art comes from a different place entirely.”

Soft-spoken Saleh is one of the many who have been helped by Kasim. Once an addict, he is now a fashion designer and painter, who in 2013 exhibited his designs at the Zanzibar Fashion Week in front of hundreds of people. “During the show, we shared my story with the audience. It was great to feel their support. It’s important that we fight prejudice against addicts,” he says, “We want to show the community that we can change, that we can be valuable and productive members of society.”

Kasim agrees. “Addiction takes everything from you. Addicts are disconnected from their families, from the community. We help them bridge that gap.”

Through the art gallery and cafe, Kasim and Saleh want to generate some income for the organisation, so they are less dependent on donations and subsidies. Equally important, however, is that they try to involve the Stone Town community. “We want to keep the prices at the cafe as low as possible, so ordinary Zanzibari can come, have a cup of coffee and see what our recovering addicts can achieve.”

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From left to right: Kasim, Sue and Saleh

 “Every morning I wake up and I think ‘What can I change today?’” says Kasim. It seems to me that, slowly but surely, they are teaching the people of Zanzibar that addiction is a disease, not a sin, and that it can be overcome.

An opening date for the gallery hasn’t yet been set, but keep an eye on this blog. (Originally published on Apr 30, 2014)

Kilimanjaro

by Simo Hyvönen (Originally published on Dec 4, 2013)

simo kuva12It had been in my mind and it was my dream almost one year. Then suddenly one day in August 2013, I realized that Kilimanjaro can be true for me. Previous night I could not even sleep, I almost itched in anticipation. The first day was 24th of September and it was fairly easy to walk through the green fairytale like forest. It took almost five hours. The second camp named Shira was a very beautiful rock area over 3850 meters high. Some members of our group had to stop already because they were so tired and probably because they had not drink enough water. The third day was bright. We climbed to the Lava Tower which is 4640 meters high.

That afternoon was quite strenuous when we went down to the Barranco Camp standing at 3960 meters high. But that journey was over 10 kilometers.simo kuva13 On Friday we were facing a terrifying trial: a high and a narrow rock path. Sometimes we had to help and support each other by holding hands, like we have to do in our lives. I did not look down; I could only concentrate to the next step. I will never forget that day. We came to the Barafu Camp at six o’clock and at the same time it started snowing. People were so thrilled that they began to play snow war in the middle of Africa.

simo kuva3The last climb we did in darkness with a head lamp. It took six hours. My guide Theo was very helpful and patient with me. When the sun came over clouds at five o’clock on the Saturday morning, I got more power. I was climbing very slowly, very ‘pole-pole’ truly. But I succeed to climb to the Stella Point to 5785 meters high! I truly encourage, even older people such as me to try to have this experience. I can guarantee that it will be worth it.

Pupils from One School in Dar es Salaam receive donations through AIT

By David Kiarie (Originally published on Nov 1, 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 sanitation blocks 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.

” We have also managed to clear a Tsh 2 million debt that we owed DAWASCO after connecting us with clean piped water,” said the school headteacher Obedi.

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 have already registered the education centre, as a nursery school, with the government.

The government has also promised to donate land to the school to enable it grow into a primary school. Presently, pupils who study at the private nurserly school have to join other schools for primary education.

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

The school also plans to have electric power connected and has mobilized some funds for the same although they have a Tsh 700,000 deficit. The total cost of the exercise is Tsh 1.2 million according to Rusumo.

”I credit our school development to Art In Tanzania through whom we meet our esteemed sponsor Carol Wood who has stood with us for this long,”

Carol, a former volunteer with Art In Tanzania, also sends monthly donations that goes into purchase of flour to make porridge for close to 200 pupils at the school.

The sponsor also donated sleeping mats which are used by baby class pupils who have to take a nap every day at the school before they go home at noon.

The headteacher further expressed his gratitude with AIT for offering volunteers to teach pupils at the school.

”The volunteers and interns teach our pupils both written and spoken English among other subjects,” Rusumo said adding that it has helped to improve their performance in class. Another volunteer from Art In Tanzania Rick Jonnes also built desks for the school several years ago.

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)