Most are drawn to Tanzania for a hiking experience to awe-inspiring heights atop Mt Kilimanjaro, a safari through the pride lands of the Serengeti, or lounging on the beach in Zanzibar, while eating fresh seafood and touring the spice fields. However, it’s soon apparent that the real experience comes from greeting the bright smiling faces of the local children who rush to say hello. Volunteer work in Tanzania gives people a chance to not only visit world class tourist attractions and experience a new culture, but also dive into a new language, a new way of living, a new appreciation of food and clean water, new found friends, all while making a huge difference in a community in need.
Tanzania boasts an extensive array of game reserves and national parks and is surrounded by beautiful coastline with white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters. Located in the far east of Africa, Tanzania is home to nearly 48 million people and numerous ethnic groups. From the largest city of Dar es Salam to the island of Zanzibar and back to the most well-known tourist hub of Arusha and everything in-between, Tanzania has no shortage of communities in need.
More than 80 percent of the population live in rural towns and the unemployment rate is not far of matching this figure too. The Arusha region is the centre of the northern Tanzania safari circuit and is home to over 1.5 million people. Although day to day life as a volunteer in Arusha city will be very hustle and bustle, you do not need to travel very far to come across the Maasai warriors, stick in hand, herding their cattle and goats or the Maasai women laced in beads and cloth making crafts in there grass thatched huts.
When seeking volunteer work In Tanzania it’s not about where to start your volunteer efforts but when. Each and every person can make a difference as a volunteer in Tanzania, whether it’s providing education or insight into a new language, showing care love and affection or providing others the inspiration to volunteer too.
Volunteering in Tanzania
Depending on your own passions, goals, and qualifications, there are plenty of opportunities for volunteer work in Tanzania, with placements in teaching and education, to childcare and orphanage support, construction and community work, or women’s education and medical or health care. Each volunteer program in Tanzania will offer a range of different opportunities for you to choose from, depending on the need in the local area.
Those with teaching qualifications, knowledge of how to promote learning new languages, or even just a passion to educate would greatly benefit communities by teaching in Tanzania at public schools, where there is an abundance of eager-to-learn children that attend classes each day.
Due to the high rate of HIV/AIDS and other illnesses prevalent in Sub-Saharan African countries, there are a large number of children left orphaned in Tanzania. In addition, there are many children who have been abandoned by their parents as they are unable to provide for them. Given the family oriented culture of Tanzania, orphaned and abandoned children tend to be taken in by extended family or neighbours, however these children put a considerable strain on the families who take them in and they are often sent to orphanages for certain hours of the day to receive education, interaction, and food. Bright eyed, bubbly, and eager to learn, a day spent volunteering at an orphanage in Tanzania will be filled with supporting the infants, toddlers, and children with their daily routines is very rewarding.
Rural clinics are often expensive for locals to attend and not easy to come by, and the need for healthcare education and support to those in the wider communities is essential; therefore volunteering in Tanzania in a healthcare program can provide incredible insight into the healthcare system of Tanzania as well as invaluable support for local clinics.
Costs & Affordability
For most volunteer programs in Tanzania, basic needs such as accommodation, airport pick up, and meals will be covered from when you arrive in Tanzania to when you depart. However, there are still other costs you may wish to consider.
In most places you visit while volunteering abroad in Tanzania, the “locals’” price and the price you will pay as a foreigner vary, so prices will really depend on the time and day. When considering additional costs of volunteer work in Tanzania you may like to price out the cost to travel to and from your volunteer placement. When it comes to transportation, most volunteers opt to take the cheaper option, which is by dala dala (the local bus or minivan), each trip costs around 400 shillings (less than $0.50).
Although filtered water is often provided for individuals who volunteer abroad in Tanzania, there may be the odd occasion you want to purchase additional bottled water or a soft drink, which cost around 2000 shillings ($1.50). For the ease of being able to call or message back home a local sim-card can be purchased for around $1.50 and topped up each month for $5.
Purchasing souvenirs after volunteering in Tanzania, such as jewellery or one of the many wooden carvings or canvas prints you see around, can range from 1000 shillings up to 30,000 shillings. It’s always best to decide how much you are willing to pay for an item before you ask the price.
Accommodation & Visas
Upon arrival for your volunteer program in Tanzania, you will need a valid tourist visa, and it’s always a good idea to ask about a volunteer work permit to be able to volunteer in Tanzania too. For most nationalities, visas for volunteering in Tanzania are issued upon arrival at the airport at a fee of $100 (U.S. and Irish nationals) or $50 (for all other nationalities). You can also get visas from the Tanzanian High Commission in your own country; it’s a good idea to speak with both your volunteer program provider and your nearest Tanzanian embassy to discuss your specific travel plans. All travelers should also check their flight travel path through Africa, as a lot of countries legally require you to present a Yellow Fever vaccination to immigration officials.
Every volunteer in Tanzania will have a slightly different situation and each program will offer different accommodations during your stay. Most commonly this is either in a homestay with a local family or a volunteer guest house though.
Benefits & Challenges
Cultural Adjustment. It won’t take you long to overcome the hustle and bustle of local towns in Tanzania. Once you do, you’ll fall in love with the happy locals, bright smiles, and ease of life.
Tourist Attractions. With many tourist attractions, outside of you volunteer work in Tanzania you’ll be able to spend weekends doing walking treks around Kilimanjaro, visiting local Maasai tribes, taking a safari through the Serengeti, or on a quick trip to the island of Zanzibar (renowned for its spices and crystal blue water). While all of these attractions are a must, it is often a great idea to bring along enough cash or prearrange your bookings as it can be costly to withdraw large amounts of Tanzanian shillings from ATM’s.
Transport. It’s not uncommon to see 30 people squeezed into a 14 seated dala dala, and while this can be intimidating at first it is a cultural experience not to be missed.
Unique. No two days are the same in Tanzania and witnessing the local arts and crafts takes the term ‘recycle-boutique’ to a new level, with every piece of scrap metal, tyre or old shoe being converted into something new.
If being part of a local Tanzanian family, supporting the local community, making new lifelong friends from around the world, while taking part in wild tourist adventures sounds like you, then your next step is to begin planning what will be an unforgettable volunteer program in Tanzania.