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Rebecca Hastie and Cathryn Tomney

ICS Volunteers

Guest blogger for FCDO Editorial

Part of FCDO Outreach

11th January 2017 London, UK

Young Brits making a big difference in Tanzania

Cathryn Tomnay playing with 7 year old Judy, the daughter at her host home in Mbulu. ICS Raleigh SWASH (school water, sanitation and hygiene plan) project. Mbulu, Manyara district, Tanzania.

Rebecca Hastie and Cathryn Tomney volunteered with International Citizen Service in Tanzania. Here they share their experiences of working with communities in Tanzania on education and sanitation projects.

VSO ICS volunteer Rebecca Hastie member of the cohort of the VSO / ICS Elimu Fursa project (Opportunities in Education) Lindi, Lindi region. Tanzania.

23-year-old Rebecca switched Newcastle for Lindi in south Tanzania, to become part of helping to raise education standards. As part of the Elimu Fursa project (Opportunities in Education) she’s been teaching skills to secondary students.

“I was very nervous at first. It was a completely unknown experience for me. I had no idea what I was going to see and there’s only so much you can learn back in the UK. I never thought I’d be able to leave my family for so long, but out here the other volunteers become your family.

I’ve been volunteering in a secondary school, teaching soft skills to 11-18 year olds, facilitating sessions on communication skills, CV writing and interview techniques. It’s been really hands on. I’ve been planning lessons and volunteering at a local enterprise. It was really eye opening as I hadn’t learnt anything about business before but I was given great training. It’s been brilliant to put those techniques into practice.

We’ve organised Community Action Days, and learning how the community works whilst spreading the VSO message has been interesting. I’ve used it as a way to talk about career pathways for students and encourage them to stay in education, particularly girls. Many drop out. The whole thing has been really positive. We’ve made such an impact on the community. Even walking on the streets children just shout ‘teacher!’ at me because they recognise me. As you go along you feel like you’re not doing much, but looking back I can see it’s been really important.

I’ve changed so much. I’m more confident speaking to strangers and interacting with children. I’ve learnt about lesson facilitation, being tolerant and being patient. Generally being able to survive in a foreign country too! This experience will definitely help me when applying for a job. The skills will be invaluable for an employer. I’ve really enjoyed it, and am very grateful for the opportunity. I just want everyone to do it because ICS is so amazing, and being able to offer one to one support for people who really need help is fantastic.”

Life as a Raleigh ICS volunteer not only helped Cathryn Tomney improve the water situation of Mbulu, Tanzania, but also helped develop her personal skills. As part of the ICS programme, the 19-year-old from Cranleigh has been looking at ways to boost the clean water and sanitation outcomes for a small village in northern Tanzania.

Cathryn Tomnay playing with 7 year old Judy, the daughter at her host home in Mbulu. ICS Raleigh SWASH (school water, sanitation and hygiene plan) project. Mbulu, Manyara district, Tanzania.

“I decided to do ICS because I’m really interested in a career in international development and I thought this would be a really good insight into it. They seem really focused on pursuing the Global Goals too so I thought it was a really good opportunity. I could tell with ICS it wasn’t just about ‘voluntourism’, and that they were really focused on helping communities. Also, as part of ICS, you really integrate with the communities and the in-country volunteers as well.

The issue we’re tackling is water, hygiene and sanitation in rural communities. We’re going round to local schools, teaching them the importance of things like washing their hands after they go to the toilet and before they eat to stop them from getting ill. I know that a big issue, especially with children, is diarrhoea and a lot of people can die from it. Water illnesses like cholera have been a problem in this area too.

As a group we’re hoping to focus on teaching the school children and we’re building some up as ‘ambassadors’ so that they can pass on new knowledge to families and friends. We’re also building a new block of toilets in a local primary school. I’m looking forward to when that’s all ready. We’re planning some ‘action days’ when the community will gather together to hear about issues such as water pollution and keeping water sources clean.”

Find out more about volunteering with International Citizen Service.

1 comment on “Young Brits making a big difference in Tanzania

  1. Hi I have previously applied a month or two ago but I can’t seem to find the email you replied with in my emails, so I thought to re apply is the only thing to do…

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