Putney Student Travel: Community Service Tanzania

Putney, VT

Overview

Immerse yourself in village life as you join local people on community-initiated projects on this community service program in East Africa. During your final week, venture out on a safari that combines unrivaled wildlife viewing in Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire National Park with a stay at a remote Maasai village.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Help build a village classroom that accommodates 50 students.
  • Join Tanzanian families as they plant and harvest their crops.
  • Volunteer at a local orphanage.
  • Explore the ten-mile-wide Ngorongoro Crater.
  • Spot lions, monkeys, and elephants and stay in a Maasai village on safari.

OVERVIEW

Village Life and Service

In this, our twenty-second summer in Tanzania, two separate volunteer projects will take place in agricultural villages outside the northern town of Arusha. Situated on the slopes of Mt. Meru, approximately 80 kilometers west of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the fertile Arusha area is well-suited to agricultural production. The towns are close to many of the country’s wildlife parks, including the Serengeti Plains, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara, and Tarangire.

Work with local people and immerse yourself in village life by helping complete community-initiated projects. You may build a classroom or simple housing for school teachers, teach math or English to local children, improve the village water supply system, help in an orphanage, or work on local farms planting, harvesting, and selling crops at market.  Rise early and spend most of each day in small groups on the project sites. Late afternoons and evenings are usually devoted to group activities with our Tanzanian friends: dances, soccer games, hikes, or dinner parties.  Weekend excursions include visits to nearby farms and hikes into the surrounding hills. Participants of the 33-day program can expect to complete between 80-100 hours of community service. Students enrolled in the 23-day program can expect to complete between 60-80 hours of community service.

We are cared for by a group of local women who are wonderful, longtime friends of Putney Student Travel. “The Mamas,” as they call themselves, nurture us during our time in the village, shopping for us, and cooking our dinners. We rotate periodically through cooking and cleaning crews responsible for preparing breakfast and lunch for the group and assisting the Mamas with dinner.

The 33-day program has a farewell celebration back in the host village after safari, where we reunite with our new friends to recognize the work accomplished. The 23-day program bids farewell to the host village before heading out on safari.

Independent Projects

Engage in an independent research project to better understand life in your village.  Possible topics include: the function of the local political structure, the role of music and dance in Tanzania, howujamaa (villagization) shapes community interdependence, the role of women as the primary agricultural producers, tourism and the economy, or wildlife management. Both programs culminate with the presentation of independent projects around the campfire while on safari.

Final Aventure

Spend the final days of the program on a safari organized by close friends of Putney, who introduce us to Tanzania’s fascinating tribal culture, wildlife, and history. Stay in traditional hunting lands as guests of the Maasai tribe, complete with a reception by a village elder and a traditional feast held in our group’s honor. Explore Tanzania’s abundant wildlife in Tarangire National Park, where we view animals up close. The safari continues to Ngorongoro Crater, where guides take us on an expedition into the ten-mile-wide caldera. Driving through grassland, swamps, and along lakes and rivers, safely encounter lions, zebras, cheetahs, rhinos, elephants, monkeys, flamingos, wildebeest, jackals, and hyenas.

Accommodations

Group accommodations are carefully selected by Putney Student Travel to emphasize convenience, a positive group environment, and wholesome interaction with local people and fellow travelers. Our living accommodations in Tanzania are very simple. We sleep in sleeping bags on bunk beds in a village house, with girls and boys in separate rooms. There is no electricity, but we have running water for simple showers in a building across a courtyard. Bathrooms are outhouses. We cook on a gas stove. During the safari portion of the program, we stay in tents provided by our local outfitter. The leaders reside together with the students.

Physical Challenge Level

Our programs are active. Days are filled with movement — working on community service projects, playing with local children, exploring our host community on foot, going on a hike, or preparing our group’s meals. Pick-up games of frisbee or soccer with our new friends can be organized by leaders and students.

A Typical Day

7 a.m. — Breakfast
8 a.m.–12 p.m. — Work
12 p.m.–2 p.m. — Lunch and Rest
2 p.m.–4 p.m. — Work
4 p.m.–6 p.m. — Help prepare dinner, play soccer, relax
6 p.m. — Dinner
8 p.m. — Group Meeting and/or group activity

During the week, we wake up between 6 – 7am, eat breakfast together as a group, and then head to the work site from 8am – 12pm. Work may include mixing cement, painting, participating in a local harvest, or teaching local kids. We’ll break for a long lunch and rest time, then return to work for a few hours in the afternoon. After work, relax, play soccer with local friends, help cook dinner, or pursue independent research. After a group dinner together, participate in a meeting to discuss the day, plan for upcoming excursions, or simply play a game together. Weekends are a time to explore. Hike to a nearby waterfall, explore a local forest preserve, or visit a community market.

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