For many students the mid-year break is an opportunity to bolster the bank account with a few extra shifts at work, to squeeze in a quick Bali trip, or to simply relax and recuperate after a hectic first trimester. This year however, 35 Griffith University Gold Coast students decided to spend their break travelling with purpose by joining the Student Guild’s annual volunteer abroad trip to Tanzania from 8 -26 June 2019.
Tanzania was a new destination for the Guild’s annual volunteering trip, with students based out of Arusha in the country’s north east. Students were split across nine different volunteering projects including school and childcare placements, disability support programs, and an HIV/women’s support program.
Volunteering placements were facilitated through International Volunteering HQ (IVHQ), based out of Arusha, Tanzania. IVHQ works hard to ensure that travellers are provided with meaningful experiences that will make a genuine positive difference in the local community. They prioritise responsible and safe experiences for participants and their host communities.
Three Griffith students, Nicole, Ryan and Rory, participated in the New Hope School education placement, raising almost $3,000 for the project, delivering much needed school supplies, and assisting primary school teachers to deliver English and maths lessons. In addition to providing classroom support and simple but life changing lessons, such the importance of regular handwashing, the Griffith placement supported a bigger mission for the school. The director of the New Hope School is currently raising funds to provide accommodation for orphans to ensure that they do not miss out on an education.
Rory says that one of the biggest lessons for their project team was to never take anything for granted, and to always do life with a smile.
One of the largest projects saw seven Griffith volunteers, placed with Lifted Strong Community Organisation (LISCO). LISCO is a support program that offers a range of services and programs to women who are HIV positive and women experiencing immense hardship. Led by local Tanzanians and supported by a community of international volunteers, LISCO delivers craft, health English and business classes to better equip women with skills to support themselves and their families.
The Griffith contingent helped facilitate health and wellness programs, including a painting day, as well as providing support to finance, budgeting and marketing initiatives during the placement.
Although all nine placements provided different working experiences, the fundamental experience of the Griffith volunteers was universal and students valued the opportunity to witness and contribute to a range of organisations delivering hope, value and courage to the local community.
‘This was an experience that left me feeling eternally grateful, inspired, immensely moved and in so much awe’, says Yael, who worked with the Destiny Foundation on the disability support program. ‘This experience gave me the opportunity to develop a cultural understanding more in-depth than anything I have experienced before’.
Arusha is a gateway town to many iconic Tanzania experiences including safaris in the Serengeti National Park and trekking on Mt Kilimanjaro. Students celebrated their achievements in Arusha by finishing their trip with a four day safari experience in the Serengeti, including a visit to the iconic Ngorongoro Crater. An intrepid group of students also elected to stay on after the program to climb Mt Kilimanjaro.
The Student Guild helped students prepare for the trip with pre-departure training and by giving them the chance to participate in fundraising opportunities throughout the year including the Safari & Sip paint and wine evening, and raffles. All students participating in the trip were eligible to apply for a $250 scholarship from Griffith Global Mobility, while some students were eligible to receive 10 credit points and up to $6,000 of travel support as part of Griffith University’s Community Internship course.
If you would like to combine travel with the chance to create meaningful social change then keep an eye on the Student Guild Facebook and website for information on the 2020 volunteer abroad trip.