Experiences of Volunteer Kelly in Tanzania

kellyIt is already been four weeks since I arrived in Tanzania, where I work as a volunteer (nurse) in St. Elizabeth Hospital in Arusha. What an amazing adventure and experience! You have to experience it yourself to fully understand how life is around here, but I will try to do my best to give you an idea.

The first few weeks were pretty difficult sometimes. The culture shock was pretty big and life is so different compared to the life I was used to back in Holland. But you get used to Tanzanian/African lifestyle and the ‘hakuna matata and pole pole’ way of living pretty quickly, luckily. When you get used to this life, you can also enjoy all nice and awesome things you experience here in Africa.

I am staying at the Tunawapenda Childcare Center together with other volunteers, staff and 7 ‘orphans’ who are currently living with us. All these people help you feel comfortable and at home at the Center. I really love staying at the Center, because you’re part of the local community. You are not living in a big, luxurious accommodation with only other volunteers far away from the local people, but you’re living together with them. Next to the Center you find a church, a daily market etc. where you meet people from Ngaramtoni and other villages every day. And that is why I wanted to go to Africa. Experience the way those people live, experience their culture and find out what their traditions and habits are.

Living together with the kids and the staff makes you feel part of a big family and the kids make sure you’ll never get bored. This makes you forget what you don’t have at the Center. Because we take things as running water, lots of different kinds of food and luxurious accessories for granted back home, but you won’t find this here – or at least not to such an extent. But after only a few days you are not really aware of this anymore and you get used to showering and flushing the toilet with water from a bucket. And by realizing what you don’t have, you will appreciate those things even more when you get back home.

I am really enjoying my work at St. Elizabeth Hospital. It is completely different than how we are working in Holland, but it is so interesting to experience and I am learning a lot. The other doctors and nurses are very friendly and try to help you where they can. I go to the hospital every day (mon-fri) by Dala Dala, this is the local way of transport. It is a small van with approximately 15 seats, but they try to get in as much people as possible. Sometimes you’re even with 30 people in a Dala Dala! It takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes to get from Ngaramtoni to Arusha, depending on how fast the Dala Dala is and how crowded it is. From the Dala Dala stop to the hospital is another 500-750 meters by foot. It is safe to walk alone, at least when it is not dark yet.

Of course there is also time for relaxing and other activities. I already did one safari and I will do a few more before I go back home. This is absolutely amazing! The nature and animals are stunning!

Next to that, there are a lot of other things to do. I went on a Sunday hike in the mountains a few weeks ago with other volunteers, I went to the Via Via, the local outdoor club/bar where you can meet a lot of other volunteers and tourists, twice and I am planning on doing a horse riding safari soon. As you can see, you have a lot of opportunities! You can also go to the cinema or to the pool if you want.

Time flies when you have fun and I have to say that I completely agree with that. Luckily I still have some weeks to go, but time goes by so quickly. I am so happy I decided to go on this adventure and I know that Ngaramtoni and all the people and volunteers of Tunawapenda Projects will be my second home and family from now on. This is definitely an unforgettable and a priceless experience. I would recommend making the same decision I made to everyone, because living and experiencing another culture for a certain period definitely makes you a ‘richer person’.



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