From the moment I’d arrived back in London from a voluntary project in Uganda in 2015, I’d wanted to go back to East Africa. The red earth and the dusty pot-holed roads, the vibrant, life-affirming colours and patterns, and the people. I wanted to see more, learn more, experience more. But most of all, I wanted to engage with the population, feel the welcoming warmth that had so touched me in Uganda once again, and give something back, beyond my tourist contribution to the economy. I wanted to show that I care, to do my small part in making some compensation for the unjust inequalities that surround me.

People going about their lives, with stunning backdrops

And so I signed up with LRTT in Tanzania. I’d read about the organisation a while ago, and filed it away for future reference. Some years ago I had spent the summer teaching in Calcutta, India, and whilst I had gained great insight into poverty and disadvantage during my time there, and enjoyed the relationships with the children, I felt somehow unsatisfied by the brevity of my trip and shallowness of my impact. In Uganda I had been involved in teacher training and had found it deeply satisfying to know that I was investing in education in a more sustainable way. The teachers were deeply grateful for the support, and I could see that just being there was reinvigorating for those professionals working in such challenging circumstances. I was impressed with the number of countries and Fellows involved in LRTT’s work, and the growth of the organisation over only a few years. When a friend of mine came back from an international fellowship to Tanzania, raving about her trip, it was settled, i was going to volunteer abroad again.

The team visited SEGA, an inspirational girls boarding school and the location for our conferences

So here I am in Morogoro, Tanzania — almost a week into the project, and thoroughly enjoying every moment of the fellowship. Teachers are almost always caring, creative creatures and this group of twenty Sirs and Miss’s from the UK, with a spattering of Americans, are a wonderful bunch. The team-building exercises — ‘organised fun’ (a name that, I admit, made me cringe somewhat) have been genuinely fun; they have made for good bonding experiences and helped create cohesion in a group of strangers.

Brought together by our shared love of knowledge and developing people, each global volunteer has played an active role in the learning sessions, and it’s been enjoyable and stimulating. We’ve had some Swahili teaching, sessions on lesson observations and other skills that we are using when we work with our Tanzanian colleagues. There’s been sufficient time to recover from jet lag, get our bearings in town, and explore the local markets. Tomorrow we go into our school for the first time and I know that whilst many of us are slightly nervous, overall, we’re ready. This is why we’ve come. I’m looking forward to getting stuck in.

Written by Ellie Grunewald

LRTT Tanzania Fellow

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