Testimonial from Katrina Biglin, English Volunteer from the USA
My name is Katrina Biglin and I am from the United States. Before coming to the Faraja Center, I had just recently graduated from college with a degree in Early Childhood (PreK-4) and Special (K-8) Education. I knew that I wanted to take a gap year between college and either a job or graduate school, so I decided that some type of volunteer work in Tanzania would be my best option. Only having ever been in The Gambia, West Africa- I had no idea what to expect when I booked my ticket to Arusha, Tanzania…
I spent 4 months working in Tanzania. I lived in the compound with the family of Mama Siara, as well as all of the women and children who go to school here. I highly recommend that volunteers live at the Faraja Young Women Development Organization (FAYOWODO); I know that my money went to an organization in which I believe in without the help of a middle man, the Faraja Center became like a home and a family to me, I was able to bond with the women and children with whom I work on a daily basis, and don’t even get me started on the amazing food cooked for me here…
Teaching English to the young women of the Faraja Center was the highlight of my day. I made it a priority to make sure that my English classes were fun and engaging. We played games, used partner activities, and rarely sat in our seats for more than a half-hour at a time. At the same time that I saw the women’s English improving, I also noticed my Swahili improving exponentially. I am under the full impression that the young women at the Faraja Young Women Development Organization taught me more than I could ever teach them. As the days went on and our relationships strengthened, I can honestly say that the women at the center became more like friends and less like students. We went to football every Tuesday and Thursday to let out a bit of steam and have a bit of unstructured fun.
This is not to say that there were not hardships. I needed to learn how to stress accountability for the young women of FAYOWODO. We created attendance charts, reward systems, and consequences for missing class. I also had to become aware of the cultural differences that could be found in the Tanzanian students when compared to American students. I was not too proud to go knock on doors when students tried to sleep through my class! On graduation day of the Faraja Center, I can tell you that there was not a single regret. We had both learned from each other and I will speak for myself when I say that I am a better person for it!
When the students left in November, I found myself with a full month to dedicate my volunteer work to fundraising and marketing. My time was spent working on a large crowdfunding campaign, working with staff members to create donor incentives, and contacting local businesses and places of interest to spread the word about the Faraja Center. Brochures have been placed in a majority of tourist attractions and hotels throughout the city!
While work at the Faraja Young Women Development Oranization took up a majority of my time, I certainly made time for myself to “play” a bit. Climbing Kilimanjaro, going on a Safari to the Serengeti, traveling to the white beaches of Tanga, experiencing the nightlife in Arusha, and making memories with my fellow volunteers- who quickly became friends- made my 4 months of volunteer work in Africa seem like 4 weeks.
I am sad to leave, but know that my decision to come to work abroad and live at the Faraja Center was the best decision I could have made.
Katrina Biglin, USA
Testimonial From Monica Kammersgaard Rasmussen, Danish Student
Working Abroad at the Faraja Center
Before traveling to the African continent, I didn’t know much about it. I had seen TV, read the news and been told by friends who had been there. I left Denmark to come and live in Arusha and work at the Faraja Center for six months. It had always been a dream to travel to Africa and volunteer. Since it was also a part of my education, I was very excited to learn about being a social worker in Tanzania, and how I could bring the knowledge back with me to Denmark. I have learned a lot, both personally and professionally during my stay at the Faraja Center in Arusha, Tanzania.
When I first arrived in Tanzania, I was very excited. Everything was new and different, in a good way. Then arriving at the Faraja Center, I really liked that as well. I was showed around and there where a lot of options and places for me where I could help both the children and women living here.
The Daycare Center
In the nursery I have been taking care of the smallest children. I’ve fed them, given them comfort and played with them. I have also tried to walk around with the ones who can’t do it on their own, to help them get stronger legs. I have made a development project where I bring all the kids outside once a day, to help them use all their senses. The best feeling is that the kids trust me now, and they approach me. They make me feel like I am a part of their lives, and it will be very difficult to say good bye.
At Pre school I help the children with their writing, math and English. When we are finished in class, we go to the playground outside. It is very interesting to be a part of the staff at the Faraja Center. I was happy to be included in meetings with the teachers.
The women of the Faraja Young Women Development Organization
We teach the women in English, computer, tailoring and cooking. It is very important that the women receive the different options in vocational training. When they don’t live at the Faraja Center anymore, they can support themselves, and their child.
On the Women’s Rights Day we all went to the international criminal center in Arusha. It was an interesting day for both the staff and the women. The women showcased some of the beautiful garments and accessories they have done in tailoring class, and also presented their cooking skills. We met the Danish Prime minister, Helle Thorning, and when she learned that I was from Denmark she asked me a lot of questions regarding my stay here for so long. That was also a big experience for me.
Twice a week we arrange football for the women. It’s my favorite time. They are laughing, having a good time and it’s also nice to hang out together, rather than being the teacher all the time.
We have the final examination, before the women leave the center, for work in town. At the end of my stay I was on a trip around town where I visited the women at their work place. It was very nice to see how well they were doing, and also their development they had at the Faraja Center. There is hope for a good future for the girls who arrive at the Faraja Center.
Monica Kammersgaard Rasmussen, Denmark
Testimonial From Nicolai Hyllen Slyk, Danish Student
Living and working at the Faraja Center
Before traveling to the Faraja Center I was under the impression that they did not have anything. As a student in social education, we learn that the people living in Africa have nothing. Meaning they don’t have any water, money for food and no one to care for them.
Actually arriving in Arusha, Tanzania, is a completely different story. I arrived at the Faraja Vocational Development Organisation with the agreement of staying for six months. I thought I was coming to an orphanage, without anyone to understand the person’s needs or possibilities. But I became wiser very quickly. In the beginning we had to get to know each other and how we are different personalities. It did not take long to build a good relationship to one another.
I used the first month to get settled in, because I knew that my stay here would be different from what I had thought before I arrived. I was going to teach the women in computer, and also help in the Pre School with math and English. I was also going to take care of the women’s babies at the nursery, who have their own unit next to the Pre School. I thought this was a though challenge, but I was up for it!
During my stay at the Faraja Center I have had the opportunity to be a part of many things. During the Women’s Rights Day, we visited ICC (international criminal center), where I held a speech about how we work at the Faraja Center. I also met the Danish Prime Minister, Helle Thorning, who was visiting in Arusha. After this event we all really settled in more with each other, and our relationships where good and healthy.
I have now been here for 5 ½ months and I have learned so much from the Faraja Center. The people who live here are caring, loving and concerned about the Faraja Centers future. The Faraja Center helps local children with their pre school and as a result of that opens up an opportunity for development in their community. The women who live at the Faraja Center are being empowered through vocational training in either cooking or tailoring. This is important for the girls in order to secure them a job after leaving the Faraja center. The Faraja Center provides them with an internship which gives them practical knowledge and, hopefully, offered a job afterwards.
Volunteering, and working in Tanzania, at the Faraja Center is such a different experience than working in Denmark. At the Faraja Center it is about building a new family and a relation. I’m in no doubt that the Faraja Center will keep on expanding and developing. It is now in a state of change so that the volunteers are able to live at the Faraja Center, and don’t have to drive here from Arusha every morning. This will give the organization the possibility to get even closer with their volunteers and to build stronger relationships between the people who work here, and the women who live here.
Nicolai Hyllen Slyk, Denmark
Testimonial From Line Rasmussen, Danish Student
Volunteering at The Faraja Center in Tanzania
My name is Line, I am a student at the University College Capital, UCC, where I am studying to be a social worker. I have been living at The Faraja Center for the last six months as a part of my education. I have been living with the family, eating together and tried to integrate myself with the Tanzanian culture.
The first week was very challenging for me; I guess that might be the case for anyone new to Tanzania. You need to start up your own life and routines. I chose to travel alone here. I wanted to find out more about myself. Was I though enough for the challenges I would be faced with? How far could I push myself out of my comfort zone?
After my first week I started to figure out where I could help out the most. Many of the young women could not speak English, so it was an obvious decision to teach them in English. They where enthusiastic about learning, so I began teaching them three times a week for two hours at a time.
Another thing I did was to buy a football and bring yellow vests, so the young women could play football two times a week. It was truly amazing to see them interact with each other and play like there was no tomorrow! For a moment they got to just have fun, play and not focus on their reality. I feel very privilege to have been a part of this.
After two months I also began to teach the young women how to cook Danish food. It was a big success. It was nice to teach them about the food culture in Denmark, since I was learning so much from their culture. After cooking school I also started teaching the girls in Mathematics, which was also a great experience.
Throughout all my projects I continued to teach the girls in English. My last month I was here I started my final project, a tailoring class. I started to teach the young women in how to make special bracelets, so when they leave the Faraja Center, they might be able to make them and sell them on their own.
During my six months here I lived with Mama Siara’s family. They where very sweet, kind and welcomed me into their lives with open arms. I am eternally grateful that I had the opportunity to live together with them. I can only give the future volunteers my blessings. I highly recommend other students and volunteers to come and work at the Faraja Center. It has been amazing to follow the young women’s development in English, Mathematics and their life in general. I have met amazing people that have changed my life in so many ways.
Line Rasmussen, Denmark