World Unite! Volunteering, Internships, Cultural Travel

Volunteering, Internships and Intercultural Learning in Tanzania, Zanzibar, India, Morocco, Israel, Nicaragua, Bolivia, China, Japan, Ghana, Galapagos, Ecuador


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Social Work internship in Tanzania: Marie at the Lutindi Mental Hospital

What do culture and psychology have in common? This question is answered by Marie, who recently completed a social work internship at the Lutindi Mental Hospital in Tanzania. You can read about her experiences here:

I have now been interning for almost one month at the Lutindi Mental Hospital, which is located in the idyllic Western Usamabara Mountains of the Tanga region in Tanzania. An almost one-hour, exciting Pikipiki ride over the steep and winding gravel track up from Korooge, leads you past just a few villages and directly to the clinic, which is located almost at the top of the mountain. At the hospital, more than 70 patients with mental illnesses are currently being treated by a multi-professional team.

The work here is very diverse and at the beginning I was thoroughly informed about everything worth knowing. It is striking and interesting how a mental disorder can be influenced by the predominant religious believes or superstitions of a culture. The direct patient contact varies due to the language barrier, however, many patients also have (good) English skills.

Because of the hospital’s remote location I feel that I am more in touch with the people here, their culture and the everyday life, because one is naturally part of it. That way I automatically learned the language basics as I constantly hear them around me. With some people, Swahili even is the only way to communicate. I have made lots of positive experiences with the local people here and am always touched by the warmth and openness of the Tanzanias.

Curious to learn more about this option? Click here

Our World Unite! intern Martine from Switzerland completed an internship at the Lutindi Hospital as well. You can read of her experiences here

 


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Valerie’s time with the Village Community Banks in the Kilimanjaro region

Today, our participant Valerie tells us about her time at the Village Community Banks in the Kilimanjaro region in Tanzania. Let’s listen to what she says about her exciting time abroad:

‘3 months in Tanzania ..

… three of the most beautiful months I have ever experienced in my life.
If I had to summarize my time in Tanzania in one word, I would say, it was ENRICHING – in every aspect.

I have lived in Moshi with a wonderful host family. My host family Sululu has not only given me a real cultural insight into Tanzanian life, but even treated me just like their own daughter from the minute I have arrived. Through Mama Caroline, Baba Aloyce, Kaka Frank and Dada Glory I have found a second home.

With their help, I have learned Swahili faster, got to eat delicious African food every day, never felt alone, and could enjoy special experiences, such as attending a Maasai wedding.

In general, my decision to live with a host family allowed me to experience an authentic Tanzanian everyday life. For example, Sunday mornings we went to church for three hours, and at nights my host parents were curious to listen to what I had experienced throughout my day. This was never never a duty, but an opportunity that I was happy about. I am still in touch with my Tanzanian host family.

I volunteered at Kivinet, the Village Community Banks of the Kilimanjaro region, which was an enriching, interesting and important experience for me. With Mama Mwingira, Dada Rose, Mustafa Mushi and the four Tanzanian trainees John, Frank, Rahimu and Sophia, I have gained a lot of insights into the operational work of KIVINET. We did not only work in the office but also attended business trainings for members in the region, visited local Vicoba meetings or went to other districts for meetings.

In Moshi I took Swahili lessons after work. Theo, my language teacher, was not only my teacher, but also became my friend. We shared a lot of conversations and lots of laughter before and during the actual lessons.

Also the support from my local coordinators Miriam and Adelina of World Unite! was just great. It was possible to approach them with any kind of concern, they were always there for me, organized everything I wanted, or I could just have a coffee and chat with them, visit them at home, and make them listen to my small everyday issues.

Through regular meetings organized by Miriam and Adelina, volunteers who like me don’t stay at one of the apartments shared with other participants, but live with a host family, still can easily get in touch with other volunteers, with whom I quickly became friends and with whom I did many excursions. For example, we visited a Maasai village, the Marangu Falls and the Hot Springs.

In also went on safari, where I was able to get to experience the pure wilderness and beauty of Africa.

At the end of my trip, I left Moshi with a heavy heart and travelled to Zanzibar for almost two weeks, where I snorkelled on beautiful beaches, did some sailing, and let the soul dangle. In Zanzibar I was also staying in one of World Unite!`s accommodations.

All in all, I can say that it was a wonderful, educative, sometimes personally challenging, but deeply enriching time, which has resulted in many friendships, a second home, and a very personal bond.

… I even extended my stay – instead of a seven weeks planned stay, I stayed there for full three months.

Asante sana kwa kila kitu na nakupenda Tanzania!`

– Valerie-

If you are interested and you want to know more about volunteer or internship possibilities at the Community Banks in the Kilimanjaro region, follow the Link:

http://www.world-unite.de/en/internships-volunteering/tanzania-moshi/microfinance-village-community-banks-kilimanjaro.html


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What are Ubunto-Blox?

As part of our new expanded environmental conservation project near the Jozani Forest National Park in Zanzibar, we are just about to build  a forest camp, which from October onwards should serve as a accommodation for our volunteers.

In doing so, we rely on upcycling – by taking garbage and making something valuable from it –  so called “Ubuntu-Blox“ as building blocks for the walls of the community building of our accommodation.

‘What are Ubunto-Blox?’

The Ubuntu-Blox concept is an approach to utilize garbage.

Soft plastic waste such as disposable shopping bags and styrofoam is pressed into building blocks by using a press. The building blocks are then stacked like a classic wall. The resulting wall is then plastered. After completion, it is not directly visible, that the wall was made from Ubunto-Blox (recycled garbage!).

The meaning of the word Ubuntu is particularly interesting. Ubuntu has its origin in the Bantus languages and can be translated as ‚humanity‘ ‚charity‘ and ‘community spirit’. The expression Ubuntu describes a life philosophy that is based on reciprocal recognition and the endeavour for a harmonious and tolerant society.

If you would like to participate in this creative and innovative project and build something sustainable together with us, then we are looking forward to hear from you.

In addition to the construction of the forest camp near the Jozani Forest National Park, you can engage in a wide range of voluntary activities related to environmental protection and education in the region of the Jozani Forest Chwaka Bay region and immerse in the traditional Zanzibari culture.

 

Contact us at info@world-unite.de for further information!

 


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Volunteering with Children in Nicaragua – Niklas at the Mobile Library in León

From endless beaches, green coffee plantations to impressive mountains and volcanoes – Nicaragua has a lot to offer! In our blog, Niklas from Germany reports about his time as volunteer at the “Mini-Biblioteca“ (mobile library and afternoon care) in León.

My stay with World Unite! in Nicaragua (the Spanish language lessons as well as volunteering) was a great experience. I learned so much about myself, the country, the people there as well as about myself.

Planning my trip as well as the communication with World Unite! before departing to Nicaragua was easy, friendly and professional and I always felt well taken care of! On arrival to Nicaragua the pick up and transfer from the airport to my accommodation went well. My host family was so nice and welcoming and always supported me if I needed advice or had any questions during my stay.

Volunteering at the mobile library and afternoon care center „Minibiblioteca“ was just as great. The children come from different social backgrounds and help is needed in various fields, including homework tutoring, excursions, playing games, doing handcrafts, singing, gardening, preparing snacks etc. On top of this I held two English lessons everyday. My placement was so much fun and the kids were just amazing.

I still had enough time to explore the country during my stay in Nicaragua. It is a diverse country and form endless beaches to lush green coffee plantations to mountains and volcanoes there is so much to explore. I would definitely recommend a trip to Nicaragua!

Thanks and kind regards,

Niklas

You can find further information about the “Minibiblioteca“ here


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Volunteering abroad – only for young people?

Not at all! Indeed, we have participants of all ages. Rainer, World Unite! participant from Germany (70 years), shows that social commitment, the interest in other cultures and intercultural learning are not bound to a specific age. Rainer did a volunteer placement in Zanzibar for 3 months this year. 

“As a retired headmaster of a German secondary school I think that I don’t really belong to the typical age group of most volunteers.

Nevertheless, I applied for a volunteer placement as a teacher for maths and volleyball at a charitable school for youth and young adults through World Unite! in Zanzibar. The school also offers a variety of extracurricular activities and vocational training opportunities.

However, when I arrived to Zanzibar, I realized that the school and my students where much more interested in learning German rather than maths and volleyball! I think that this is just something that you cannot really foresee if you decide to volunteer abroad but I would have been a bad teacher if I hadn’t been able to handle this situation. I did my best to fulfill my students’ interests and I think that my efforts have been successful. I taught German to around half of my students (15 to 47 years) so that they could later make use of their language knowledge in the tourism industry.

I felt well taken care of at the school and my work was valued and supported. Coming to Zanzibar felt like arriving to a new family. Also, my students were incredibly talented and dedicated to the core.

If you are planning to volunteer abroad, one should never think that everything will run just like in your home country. That’s actually something very positive and adventures are simply part of the experience! With our European mindset, we sometimes try to implement our own ways of thinking and try to “improve“ and to “develop“ things in our host countries. However, we should accept the fact that there are always several ways how things can be handled and that every culture has its peculiarities that should be accepted.

Something wonderful and valuable: After 3 months in Zanzibar, different skin colors seem to disappear behind people’s faces, characters and souls. Personal relations to the people on-site suddenly become key and are from my point of view the most beautiful und overall most unforgettable part of the whole experience.“

Kind regards,

Rainer, Germany

In his Blog, Rainer reports about living and volunteering in Zanzibar.

Click here to read why we would also like to especially encourage older people to participate in our projects and placements.


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Volunteering at the Music School in León – World Unite! in Nicaragua

Our participant Vivienne is currently living in Nicaragua, where she is doing a volunteer placement at the local music school in León. In this blog entry, Vivi reports about her life abroad and provides great photos as well as information about her placement. 

My name is Viviv and I am currently doing a volunteer placement at the music school in León. I mostly teach the clarinet as well as music theory, but from time to time I also sing with my students or teach them rhythmics.

However, all I do goes along with the Nicaraguan lifestyle and moto “tranquilo“ (take your time!). At the beginning I was quite surprised about the differences to the teaching structures in Germany: My students attend the lessons on a voluntary basis whenever they want and attending is not compulsory. All in all, I feel that there are less rules at the school compared to schools in my home country, although the director and the teachers are currently working on implementing some changes of the teaching system and to improve the organizational structures.

Anyways, volunteering here is absolutely worth it!

During the weekends there is lots to do around here and I am using my days off to explore León and its surroundings. I feel that Nicaragua is such a diverse country: There are mountains, forests, greenery, beaches, the ocean (which is only half an hour away), lakes and even volcanoes!

People here are open and friendly (except some “Machos“ that you meet from time to time and who sometimes whistle at women). In my neighborhood I love to walk home in the evenings and to greet everyone who is sitting in their rocking chairs with „buenas noooooches“.

All in all I can sum up my impressions of Nicaragua the following way: Yummi! (I love the food provided by my lovely and absolutely amazing host granny); from my perspective a little bit chaotic (which you get used to after some time); wonderful nature and of course – hot!

Best regards from in front of the fan,

Vivi

The music school in León is currently attended by youth (from around 13 years) and young adults between 20-25 years. The participation is free for the students, but since the school only has limited access to funds, the equipment is rather simple. 

Teaching hours are on Mon, Wed, Fri (from 8-11 am and from 2-5 pm) as well as on Tue, Thu (from 8-11 am). Three teachers currently work at the school and teaching is done in groups. 

Possible instruments are the guitar, piano, clarinet, saxophone, flute, tuba and trombone. Teaching contents include music theory, techniques (on Mondays), Nicaraguan music (on Tuesdays and Thursdays), singing exercises (on Wednesdays), and rhythmics (on Fridays).


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HIV/AIDS Prevention & School in Ghana – Jasmin’s & Svenja’s Social Work Internship in Cape Coast

World Unite! interns Svenja and Jasmin from Germany have completed a 2 months internship for their studies of Social Work in Ghana and have shared their experiences and some great photos in our blog.

We had the opportunity to complete our study-related internship abroad and have spent 2 months in Ghana’s beautiful fishing town Cape Coast.

Why did you choose Ghana as your internship location? 

After some consideration we decided to do our internship in an African country. A friend of us had previously been to Zanzibar with World Unite! for an internship and recommended the organization to us and it was definitely a good choice!

Since Ghana is one of World Unite!’s host countries and the project “Alliance of Youth Development“ was particularly of interest to us we finally decided to do our internship there.

We got lots of support from World Unite! before we even travelled to Ghana. Life in Ghana is quite different to what we are used to from Germany and World Unite! explained us the differences between values, customs etc. in a Skype preparation session.

Katharina (our contact person at World Unite!) was always there for us and whenever we had  any questions we could call or email her so that we felt well prepared for our trip.

Where did you do your internship in Ghana? 

At he NGO „Alliance of Youth Development“, an organization that operates a home and school for street children and orphans in Asebu, a village just outside of Cape Coast. The NGO also runs a comprehensive HIV education project in 20 rural schools.

Our work at the Alliance of Youth Development included teaching on HIV/AIDS every morning from Monday to Friday at different schools in and around Asebu. In the afternoon we took care of the children at the orphanage.

Our day started (depending on where the respective school was located) between around 8 and 10 in the morning. At the schools we taught HIV/Aids-related topics in English according to a fixed manual with various units, including about sexual diseases, puberty, hygiene etc.

In the afternoons we usually helped the kids at the orphanage with their homework, played games with them or simply spent some fun time with them.

What do you think about your stay in Ghana? 

Our time in Ghana was very exciting and full of interesting experiences and we have enjoyed our internship a lot.

People were always warm and welcoming and fascinated us with their laughter, singing and dancing. During excursions we got lost from time to time but the Ghanaians were always very helpful and often accompanied us until we safely reached at our destination

That’s one of the reasons why we always felt well taken care of and very safe in Ghana. Cape Coast is the perfect volunteer destination that we would choose again anytime. There are markets as well as a beach and there is always something to do, including a little party from time to time. After all we wish we could have stayed longer.

Best regards,

Svenja & Jasmin

You are looking to gain practical experience in social work by doing an internship abroad? We will be happy to inform you about our various options!

Here you can find the information about the Alliance of Youth Development, Svenja’s and Jasmin’s internship project.

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