Considering the fact that hotels and guesthouses can be expensive for volunteers, especially those wanting to stay for longer periods, we work on a program where we place our volunteers in a homestay where they live with a local family or a volunteer house with other International volunteers (please note that spaces in the volunteer house are very limited and can only accommodate 18-20 people at once).
The volunteer house is a large one, Western-style house with 10- bedrooms (all shared accommodations with bunk beds). Bathrooms in each apartment with Western-style toilets and hot water for showers. The house is safe and secure, with a security guard and a large gate. In the volunteer house, there is a cook who cooks the meals for the volunteers.
For the home stays, we give that family money from your fee for support, food and board. It is exciting to stay with a family; that way you will learn the Tanzanian way of life, meet local people, eat local food and engage in local customs and traditions.
Living is basic but all the home stays have electricity and running water and accommodate volunteers in SAFE and SECURE homes (some rural home stays may not have electricity or running water during times of drought). All home stays have been inspected thoroughly by our own local Tanzania staff and chosen because of their safety and security.
Do not worry about staying in a home stay—we would not place you somewhere that is unsafe because it will give us a bad reputation.
Most volunteers here love their home stays and feel that they get a more authentic Tanzanian experience by staying there. Sometimes the power and water go out due to some technical problems, but this is for both the volunteer house and the home stays. In this event, we always make sure that we provide bucket of water for bath and toiletries.
Volunteers can expect to share a room with one or two other volunteers. While bedding is provided it is recommended that volunteers bring their own sleeping bag and mosquito nets for any trips away. Home stays are located in the town of Arusha and in the villages surrounding the country side of Arusha. Some home stays may be a 20-30 minute drive by public transport from the city centre.
Regardless of the tribe or culture your host family is from, they will be sure to give you a good Tanzanian treat and meals will be relatively varied. Bottled water is readily available in Tanzania and volunteers should budget approximately US$10 per week for this (3- litres per day). Breakfasts generally consist of Chai (tea), toast, cereal, fruit and mandazi (deep fried dough).
A typical lunch can include meat and vegetables with rice, sandwiches and fruit while dinner usually sees traditional food such as ugali, chapatti and boga accompany the meat and vegetables. Breakfast is taken in the morning, then, lunch, which is served at about 1 pm (or you can take a packed lunch if you wish to eat at your project) and then dinner/supper served at 6 or 7pm.
If you have special eating needs, please let us know ahead of time so that we can make arrangements for you. However, we need to stress the point that you should not expect to eat as you normally do at home. We will do our best to see that you are well taken care of, but also as a volunteer, there is a need to be flexible.
On the first day of the volunteering placement, the volunteers will be escorted to the project and introduced to the staff at the project you will be working with. Orientation will be conducted by staff in Arusha and cover everything you need to know for your volunteering placement in Tanzania—Introduction to Tanzania, Tanzanian customs, basic language training (Swahili), rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Tanzania and Introduction to your project and placement.
The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend traveling and socializing. During the weekend, volunteers have spare time and usually just relax or take the opportunity to explore other parts of their local town and Tanzania in general. Long weekends can be taken to go on safari or to travel further afield to places such as Zanzibar, Kenya or Uganda. If volunteers wish to work over the weekends they can join local teams and visit other orphanages.