What have you been doing since graduating from Flinders in 2009?
After graduating from Matthew Flinders, I worked for a year on the Sunshine Coast just to save some money before moving to Brisbane to begin my studies at the University of Queensland. I began my Bachelor’s degree in 2011, in International Hotel and Tourism Management. I choose this degree as I was not 100% sure what industry I wanted to go into and it gave me options. You could major in hotels, tourism and events. So whilst studying I threw myself into everything and anything related to gain experience and understanding of different positions and industries, because on paper a job can seem amazing but once you are actually living and breathing it, it can be a completely different experience.
How did you become engaged with volunteering?
I heard some really good reviews from people traveling to Africa on volunteer projects in 2013 and 2014, so it slowly planted the thought and desire to do the same. I did some research and found quite a few on offer but African Impact seemed to have really good reviews and a program
that matched my interests; being located by the seaside, working with people, offering diversity within the project and also being a very hands-on experience, rather than just assistants. So I began volunteering with African Impact in September 2015 for six weeks. With the intention of continuing my travels with one month in Egypt, one week in London, then meeting up with a friend in Europe and travelling for a month over Christmas to then settle down in London on a two-year working visa. However, after three weeks being on project with African Impact I was offered my current position as the previous coordinator was finishing up her contract in December. So I did all my travelling as intended, however, instead of settling down in London I returned to Africa on the 3rd January 2016 to begin my new life here, on Zanzibar Island.
What sort of projects are you involved in through African Impact?
The Teaching and Community Development Project is divided into four streams:
Nursery School Education – We teach at four local village Nursery Schools; Ibrahim, Mwendawima, Sirajatil and Kikadini. The Nursery School children are between the ages of 4–7 years and the classes vary in size from 10-30 children. We teach the children in Nursery School through interactive lessons filled with colourful flashcards, word drilling, songs, games, motor skills, and recognition and reward activities. With each week revolving around one topic, the topics range from the basics such as numbers and the alphabet, to animals and mathematic equations as the year progresses to implement a 31 week curriculum. It is with these tools of a structured lesson plan and a weekly topic, in which volunteers help educate and develop the young to enable them to move forward into their primary and secondary education within Zanzibar or Tanzania, as primary and secondary school are only taught in English.
Adult Class – We teach English, and other foreign languages when possible, to adult students at two different schools, Kidenga and Kizimkazi. The ages of the adult students range between 13–50 years and class size varies between 5–30 students. These students can live locally or travel from as far as the mainland just to benefit from our free English classes. Our Adult English classes are for students of all levels of abilities, thus requiring all styles of teaching techniques.
The Kanga Ladies – The Kanga Ladies are a group of about 12 local ladies who live in Jambiani headed by Mama Ramla, who is a tailor by trade. The name Kanga Ladies, is taken from kitenga, which is a traditional material worn by women in Zanzibar in various ways, and used for their handmade range of homewares, clothes and accessories. Mama Ramla started this women’s group in conjunction with African Impact to generate income for the ladies and their families, as an opportunity to further their education, and overall as a way to empower women to be more self-sufficient. Our volunteers help generate income by sewing with the ladies, purchasing their products and giving them English lessons to help improve their business skill set to increase their own sales with tourists.
The Jambiani Education Community Centre Currently used as a Garden for the Kanga Ladies. In the future it will be used as our privately owned school for teaching adult classes. As we currently teach at government schools, we cannot give graduated students a nationally recognised certificate for their English speaking skills to go on to gain jobs. This is a shame as both efforts from African Impact and the students is not as rewarding and useful as it could be. We not only hope to teach English here, but also host workshops, and computer lessons to further enhance the locals’ skill set.
How do you manage it all?
You must possess the qualities of being resilient and flexible, whilst being a multi-tasker, quick thinker, and outgoing. I take each day and each week as it comes. I have my daily and weekly tasks that need to be completed for all programs but I try to focus my ideas on one program per week.
What does it take to be a volunteer?
All we ask is for people to be easily adaptable, have a thirst for learning, be high on energy and pack their can-do attitude. Everyone comes from all different backgrounds and from all over the world, so there is not a stock standard skill set we require, it’s about that quirky personality the locals, students and the team here at African Impact are eagerly awaiting. To make the most impact, this is all up to you! Obviously you will have a huge impact on the students and community through the programs we offer, but there is so much more to experience and it’s up to you to get involved. Play soccer on the beach each afternoon with the locals, go to the local food markets and see what food is on offer, ride on a dhow and see what it takes to be a fisherman here and talk to different people by learning the local dialect, Kiswahili.
The Australian government has established The Australian Volunteers for International Development (AVID) program providing opportunities for skilled Australians to contribute to the Australian Government’s aid program.