Thanks to the Principal’s Go Abroad Fund I was able to accept a volunteering place with Lasallian Developing World Projects for the second year in a row. Lasallian Developing World Projects is a charity that aims to work towards assisting local communities in poorer parts of the world to improve their educational facilities. This is done through raising money to sponsor teams of young people from Britain to work with the local people to build classrooms or workshops and be involved in the life of the local community.
I spent 5 weeks in a village called Hagafilo in Tanzania, working to build a hall that will soon serve a number of schools and the local community. We worked long days under the sun or in torrential rain – usually 8am till 5pm and had the challenge of doing everything by hand such as carrying bricks, fetching water and mixing cement with shovels; but all of it was done in good spirits as we formed good relationships with each other and the local builders. We also spent time giving some teaching input and helping the local students with their studies, particularly English. On top of this, as this is my second volunteering project with this charity, I had the responsibility of acting as Deputy Leader.
As I had done a similar project and been to a neighbouring country (Uganda) before, I was not worried about the culture shock or living conditions etc as I knew I adapted well before.
However, as I had the role of Deputy Leader of the project, I knew it was going to be more of a challenge. I was slightly anxious about the responsibilities I had such as getting the group from A to B safely, planning our budget, organising sleeping arrangements and cooking/cleaning rotas for the group, as well as activities in the evenings. I also knew that I’d have to communicate a lot more with the local co-ordinators to organise and book trips at the weekends to other parts of the country. I had all of this to do whilst also being there as someone the group members could come and speak to about problems as well as having a responsibility to keep everyone motivated and working hard on the building site. Overall I felt a heavy responsibility for how good a time everyone had on the trip and how much work we were to get done on the building site.
I learned an awful lot throughout the role. I learned a lot about people-management and how no matter what age someone is or experience they have, they cope with complete change in totally different ways and require varying degrees of support. I found methods of executing my role so that I gave ample support to those needing it, without patronising those who felt they didn’t. I learned a lot about myself and my coping threshold and that I thrive under pressure and that being alert and ready to deal with anything.
So overall, during this experience, I made amazing relationships with the locals and the other volunteers, discovered new skills and grew more confident in other skills (especially communication skills). As a group we embraced the culture and achieved a lot on the building site – which means pupils will soon be in the new facility– and we had the best fun and the experience of a lifetime while achieving all this.