Anne Waaijer

In February 2013 I went to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania together with a good friend. We did some volunteering abroad before and decided that this was something we wanted to do again. I've always wanted to go to Africa, so we found an organization that could provide us with a school to work at and a home to live in. This sounded good to us, because we were hoping by staying with a local family, we would learn more about the African culture. We went to stay with a lovely family located near the city of Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania. In the beginning, I didn't know what to think of everything. I didn't understand the African ways and the family didn't understand mine. Everything was very different from Holland; there was no running water, the food was different, we didn't understand the accent, there were bugs, etcetera. Every day we went with our host mother to the school she was the founder of. It was a car drive over some very bumpy roads. We started to teach mathematics and English. The teachers were very nice, but the problem was the same; we didn't understand each other. As the weeks passed by I slowly started to get used to the African life. And the people around us started to get used to us. And from the moment that happened, it became the best experience of my life. I never imagined I would call Tanzania my second home and I have real Tanzanian family living over there. I've had the best time with all the family members of our host family. They live in such in a different way than we do in Holland, but it's so great to get to know the way they live. They are so nice and make you feel at home like you are their daughter or sister. I think living with a host family made the experience the best I've ever had. Working at the school was also a great experience. We helped all the teachers by introducing new materials to them, by sorting everything out for them and by introducing new teaching methods. They were skeptical about us at first, but when they realized we were only trying to help, they were open to all of our ideas. Together we made the school a better place for the students; and that is what matters.

We went on some great trips as well. We got to experience local dancing, we went to church every Sunday (it's so much better than the churches in Holland), the family took us to great beaches and nice restaurants, we went partying with the locals (they are the best dancers), we went on a trip to Arusha and stayed with cousins of our host family (they also arranged a safari trip for us), we went to local markets, we learned the Swahili languages and went to Zanzibar (it is the best tropical island there is). We really got accepted into the lives of our African host family and they were the reason why our stay was the best.

I would recommend this experience to everybody who is thinking of going to Tanzania and who would like to do some volunteering in the process. You won't regret it!

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