At help2kids Tanzania, our volunteers are dedicated to their work and go the extra mile to try and create a better life for the children help2kids supports. Lately, we have had a number of volunteers from Europe coming to Tanzania as part of their university coursework and summer internships. One particular volunteer has had lasting impact on the teachers and students of the primary school help2kids supports in terms of environmental issues and we would like to share her story with our supporters and followers.
Emilia is a 25 year-old Swiss German female studying Geography and Sustainable Development at the University of Bern in Switzerland who came to Tanzania to do her fourth year course internship with help2kids. Originally she was going to volunteer in Tanzania for a month and then Malawi for a month, but decided to stay in Tanzania for 3 months when she became passionate about teaching at the primary school. For the last 2 and a half months, Emilia has been helping to teach Standard 6 and 7 English classes and assisting the Geography teacher at the school. As part of a desire to have a meaningful impact in the lives of the Standard 6 and 7 pupils, the teachers, and the school, Emilia has been dedicated her time and volunteer experience with help2kids in finding ways of integrating the ideals of sustainable development, recycling, and green energy at the school.
“Being in Dar es Salaam and seeing the large amounts of waste and rubbish on the streets, fields and rivers of the city, I decided to do a project about rubbish, waste management and recycling. I have provided lessons on what natural resources we use to produce the materials we throw away and what problems occur in nature when there is no control or management of the waste we produce. From the Geography lessons I assisted in, students have discovered possible ways of how rubbish and waste can be prevented, reused and recycled.”
After a month and a half of these lessons, the students of Standard 6 and 7 put what they had learned from Emilia in Geography classes into practice at the school. From the money raised by Emilia, the students were able to buy materials to construct a rubbish collection unit for the school that separates waste by its specific material form. Bins for each classroom at the school were brought on the left over funds. Students then spent their Geography lessons during the first weekend of September constructing the rubbish collection unit for the school. By the weekend, the students had finished the project and were gleaming with pride standing next to their accomplished.
After achieving success with the project and providing the pupils with the knowledge on how to look after their environment around them, Emilia stated that the project and her assistance Geography classes had been a very interesting and inspiring experience.
“The students understood the problems of the current system of waste disposal and were eager to search for solutions and put them into practice themselves. Also the teachers have been a great support throughout the project. My hope is that the lessons about rubbish and waste management will be integrated into the Geography curriculum at the school and practiced for years to come”.
In terms of her experience as a whole assisting in the teaching of English and Geography at the primary school, Emilia stated that it had been a rewarding but challenging adventure and journey.
“In the first two weeks of volunteering at the school, I had to build up trust among the students and teachers of the school. It took a while to find out the different levels of understanding amongst each individual student so that I could prepare my lessons in ways that would benefit all the students. However, after finally gaining the trust of the students and teachers as I started to get to know them more individually, my experience was amazing and rewarding. I would like to recommend that every volunteer that comes to Tanzania to volunteer for help2kids at the primary school must stay for at least 3 months in order to gain the trust of students and teachers and have a lasting impact on the students. Furthermore, you should take the time to know the teachers of the school and to think of the students and the teachers as both the same people you have come over to support. I learned that instead of thinking that I am only here to teach the children and make their lives better, it is better to think that your time at the school is there to help the teachers to teach the children as they are the ones who will carry on teaching the children after you have left and they are the ones accompanying each student in their growth and development from the day they start school to the day they graduate. Thus, daily communication and conversations with the teachers on your ideas, plans, content material and hopes for each lesson is very important and is the only way you will make a difference at the school.”
help2kids is always inspired by the volunteers that that come to Africa and their stories of improving the lives of the children we support. For volunteers that come and assist in teaching English at the primary school we support, not only do they develop friendships with the teachers they work with, they also gain life-long friendships with other volunteers and the staff of help2kids. It has been a pleasure to work and assist Emilia in her project and her journey volunteering at help2kids. As a famous journalist, traveler and change maker once said, “The Journey is the Destination” (Dan Eldon). For all future volunteers, “Karibu!” We are excited to be part of your journeys.