Testimonials
"I'm sure when I ponder my life experiences, during the twilight of my years, I will regard my six weeks in Thailand as six of the most sensational weeks of my life... I traveled to Thailand hoping for an enriching experience. What I found exceeded my wildest expectations."
Chris Cox, International Health Program, Thailand
GSC TANZANIA PROGRAMS: FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
    PROGRAM UPDATE: After 20 years of service in East Africa, GSC has concluded our work there, and therefore are NO LONGER offering programs in Tanzania.

    We’ve decided to leave our Tanzania web pages up so visitors to our site can get an idea of the kind of work that we have done. Information can be found below on best practices and lessons learned from our Tanzania program that we've carried over to our Cambodia programs.






    How long has GSC been doing community development work in East Africa?

    GSC has been active in East Africa since the beginning of 1994. Up until early 2001, our work involved both sustainable agricultural (BIA) projects and HIV/AIDS education in Kenya. The skill and initiative of our participants, coupled with the experience of our Kenyan collaborators, allowed these programs to grow very quickly. Consequently, GSC, an NGO in Tanzania, decided to expand both the HIV/AIDS Prevention and Nutrition Education Program, and Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security Program into Tanzania, one of the world’s poorest countries. To help us operate in Tanzania, we are collaborating with local and international NGOs, community educators and local leaders.  

    How does GSC address the language barrier?

    The people and culture of Tanzania are composed of over 120 ethnic groups, resulting in a multitude of local languages. However, English and Swahili are the country's official languages that are understood nationwide, particularly in the larger towns. While Swahili has been the language of instruction in many primary schools, English is the medium of instruction for all post-primary education – all notes and examinations are in English. The young and the educated understand basic English, but their verbal knowledge may not be as consistent. Our Tanzanian staff always accompanies volunteers during community trainings. When you interact with a group whose members do not speak English, most likely the case in the villages, our Tanzanian staff will always be able to assist with translation. Still, investing time in learning some Swahili will go a long way towards making a good impression and enhancing your cultural experience. The three days of Swahili lessons during orientation will surely help! 

    What is the transportation like?

    In short, we travel as the locals do, primarily by bus (daladalas), or on foot. Since we aim to reach as many people as possible, our work often requires significant amounts of local travel. During in-town training weeks, volunteers will travel primarily via daladala to work and the GSC office. During weeks where volunteers and staff are conducting trainings in rural villages outside of Arusha, GSC will provide transportation.  Travel in Tanzania can be rugged and the comforts of home will seem far behind, yet the experience can be a real pleasure if you have the right attitude. The daladala rides can be cramped and hot, but it’s a true taste of a different culture and a window into how the majority of Tanzanians live.

    What are the homestays like and can I find out about my family before I arrive? 

    Tanzanian homes are simple, comfortable, and considered middle class by local standards. They are most often made of cinder blocks with bedrooms, a small cooking area, and a central sitting room where people relax and eat meals. You will be given your own bedroom that will be equipped with a locking door and a mosquito net. Electricity, running water and telephones are probable, but should not be expected. While in the home, you will socialize and eat meals with the rest of the family, becoming an integral member in no time at all. Living with a Tanzanian family is perhaps the most amazing cultural experience you will have and will provide memories that last a lifetime.

    Each participant will have their own room with a locking door in their homestay.  It will be possible to leave larger bags and items in the homestay while participants go to work every day in town or when leaving for the week while on rural assignment, and also on weekends if participant’s travel. If a participant leaves behind any luggage in their homestay at any time, it is a good practice to not only lock the door, but also lock the luggage itself. While all homestay’s are vetted by GSC staff and are considered safe, Tanzania is still an impoverished country.  Therefore, guests should do everything possible to remove any opportunities for curiosity or unplanned “sharing”.

    Many participants wish to know about their homestay and their family before they arrive in Tanzania. During the first few days of your program, the in-country staff makes final arrangements with the families to confirm their availability to Tanzania volunteers. For this reason, it is not possible to know in advance of your arrival where specifically you will be placed. If you wish to bring gifts for your homestay family we suggest you bring items that may be appropriate for all ages such as souvenirs from your hometown, baseball caps, picture calendars, (a favorite!), etc. Many participants prefer to purchase homestay gifts in Arusha after spending time with their family and discovering what they may want or need.  Kitchen appliances such as hot plates, kettles and toasters also make for great gifts and can be purchased while in country.

    Where will I stay during rural trainings?

    Since rural trainings are at distance, it is not practical at the end of the training day to return to your homestay each night. Therefore, you may find yourself camping or staying in a guest house in rural areas along with GSC staff and other volunteers in a village outside of Arusha. Whether you are an experienced camper or a novice, worry not! GSC provides all of the needed equipment including mats, tents, and sleeping bags, although some volunteers prefer to bring their own sleeping bags. You will stay in a secure area, usually in the compound of the village leader, and a local mama will prepare meals for the group. Volunteers also find staying in the village culturally rewarding because they have time to visit with community members and truly experience rural Tanzanian life. 

    During rural trainings it is possible there will be long gaps of time between meals. You might like to have a few snacks on-hand, especially if regularly scheduled meals/food in-take is important to you. If you do not wish to travel internationally with snacks (protein or granola bars, peanuts, etc), there are places in Arusha to buy small food items before you go out into the rural areas.

    Is being a vegetarian or vegan a problem?

    No, many past participants have been vegetarians/vegans. Tanzanian families provide their guests with first class treatment (within their limited means) and will therefore expect to serve you meat regularly, most likely goat or chicken. Being a vegetarian/vegan is a foreign concept to Tanzanians; however they understand that we come from a different culture and will respect your needs. You will simply need to inform your homestay family and GSC staff of your dietary needs and they will be glad to comply. The Tanzanian diet is full of vegetarian dishes that are healthy and delicious. (If you supplement your diet with vitamins, remember to bring them with you.) 

    Will I get sick when I’m there? 

    In Africa, your body will be exposed to diseases that we do not have to worry about at home. When you sign up as a participant, GSC will inform you about the vaccinations recommended by the CDC in order to protect yourself while in Tanzania. In addition, you will need to take two basic precautions: prevent mosquito bites and avoid contaminated water. While this may sound impossible, it is actually quite easy with just a little bit of effort and planning. Still, the change in diet can cause an occasional upset stomach. But with the proper precautions, this minor discomfort is the only illness you should have to endure. As with travel anywhere, awareness and common sense are your best tools for preventing illness.

    Participants should take the time to inform themselves about relevant disease risks through the CDC travel and World Health Organization websites in order to make appropriate travel decisions. For disease outbreaks in the region, Global Service Corps follows U.S. Department of State alerts and travel warnings found on its website. 

    In addition, in the case that you do become ill enough to require medical attention (or need a malaria test) there are reputable clinics we recommend.

    Will I need to bring extra money? 

    Many overseas volunteers want to do some additional traveling while in Tanzania. GSC suggests that participants bring an extra $200 - $400 for short-term programs, more for long-term programs to purchase souvenirs, any special meals out, or to travel. Excluding additional travel, participants normally spend about $50-$75 a week for basic personal expenditures.

    Is it safe to be in Tanzania, particularly as a woman? 

    The combination of spreading poverty and the presence of comparatively wealthy travelers have led to increased theft in the big cities. However, Arusha is a relatively safe town and theft can be avoided with a little common sense. Those who do fall victim to crime most often find that they have only been relieved of some possessions, but have suffered no significant physical harm. However, the areas where our participants are placed are likely as safe, if not safer, than what you experience at home. For obvious reasons, women do have to be more cautious. Tanzanians have a different sense of personal space. As a result, you may at times feel uncomfortable with the amount and type of attention you are getting. Coping with this type of discomfort will certainly be one of the challenges of your intercultural experience. However, in the vast majority of such cases, there is no threat to your person or possessions. If you take appropriate caution, it is unlikely that you will ever be in a situation that is unsafe. In addition, you will be briefed as to suggested safety precautions during orientation. 

    If I travel with my spouse, can we stay together? 

    Yes. We encourage international volunteers to come with a friend, spouse, or family members. In fact, if a participant refers a friend or family member, he or she will receive a discount of 10% of the second participant's fees! Couples can choose volunteer work at the same project or different projects. Married couples will automatically be housed in the same hostel double room and the same homestay. 

    Can I take my son or daughter? 

    While GSC does encourage families to volunteer abroad in our programs, we do not accept minors on our Tanzania Programs. All international volunteers in the Tanzania Programs must be at least 18 years of age at the time of their program. 

    How can I be contacted in case of an emergency? 

    You can be reached in case of an emergency through our US Headquarters office or our in-country Tanzania Volunteer Coordinator or other staff. E-mail is readily available in Arusha, and regular contact with your friends and family can also take place through cell phones and postal mail. In addition, Arusha has adequate medical care to address most illnesses that you might face while you are in Tanzania. In the case of a more severe emergency, travel to high-quality hospitals in Dar-es-Salaam or Nairobi can be arranged for you. Emergency evacuation insurance is required of all GSC participants. This covers the cost of transportation should it be medically necessary to move you to a medical facility in Tanzania or back home and is essential in the very unlikely case of a dire emergency. 

    What about safety with respect to the current political situation and problems in neighboring countries?

    Though there are occasionally demonstrations and protests in Tanzania, the majority of the country is peaceful and very safe. GSC's work town and the rural areas of Arusha are most likely safer than your own home area. The pace of life is relaxed, and these areas almost never experience political violence or general unrest. Many participants travel during time off or after the program. 

    The problems in neighboring countries rarely spill over into Tanzania. However, US State Department travel advisories and warnings have been and may continue to be in effect for countries in East Africa such as Kenya, Burundi and The Democratic Republic of Congo. GSC regularly monitors the situation in Tanzania through our contacts there and at the US State Department. It is our view that a well-informed and aware traveler is able to have a safe and enjoyable journey to Tanzania. However, if you plan to travel elsewhere before, during or after the program, we strongly recommend you refer to the US State Department and their website.  It can give you updated information on current travel advisories and warnings in East Africa and beyond. 

    Can I fundraise for my trip and can GSC help me with that? Is the trip tax deductible? 

    Yes, you can fundraise on your own. GSC is a registered U.S. non-profit and you can use this fact when fundraising. We are actually part of the larger non-profit environmental organization called Earth Island Institute. Because of the volunteer nature of your placement, all program fees and your airfare are entirely tax deductible in the U.S. for U.S. citizens to the full extent of the IRS regulations. This means family members, friends and other supporters can make tax-deductible contributions to GSC, which can be directly applied to your program fees. You should consult your tax advisor for specifics. Please let us know if you would like to receive fundraising information. We have a packet outlining a full fundraising program. If you would like a copy of it, we can email one to you. 

    Can GSC help me find inexpensive airfare rates or discounts?

    We can recommend discount travel agents that may be able to find you inexpensive airfare. Of course you are also encouraged to look around yourself. You then have the option of purchasing the ticket through a travel agent or finding one on your own. Generally speaking, it is suggested to fly into Kilimanjaro International Airport. However you are advised to wait to purchase your ticket until you review the detailed suggestions for discount airfare and arrival and departure information that will be provided after you have begun the application process.

    What is the next step after I apply?

    When we receive your completed Application Form, $300 program deposit, personal statement and resume via the Apply Now page of our website, GSC will send you an email with instructions about how to complete your enrollment. After you complete these procedures GSC will send to you via post a Participant Handbook. This handbook covers just about everything you need to know to prepare for your journey. The packet will also contain information that should answer most of your questions regarding the program. However, if you need additional information, we are always available at the office by phone or e-mail. 

    Does GSC have any religious or government affiliation?

    GSC does not have any religious or government affiliations. 

    What is a typical program like? 

    Please Note: Sample Itinerary is subject to change

    TRAVEL DAYS 1-2: Depart from your home and arrive in Arusha. All volunteers arriving at Kilimanjaro airport will be met at the airport by a GSC representative and transported to a comfortable hostel in Arusha.

    DAY 1 Orientation: The project officially begins at 9 a.m. Day 1 in Arusha, located at the base of Mt. Meru (Tanzania’s second highest peak). After having breakfast at your guest house you will be picked up and escorted to the GSC office by one of GSC’s Tanzanian staff counterparts. The first item on the agenda is essential to being able to interact with Tanzanians in their own language: Swahili lessons! You will then spend time with GSC staff and the group, being introduced to one another, GSC programs, and the Tanzanian culture. Your counterparts will then take you to lunch at a local restaurant so you can begin your appreciation of Tanzanian food. After lunch, you will enjoy a walking tour of Arusha so you can start to familiarize yourself with the city and all it has to offer.

    DAY 2-3 Orientation/Homestay departure: Your group will begin each day of orientation with Swahili lessons. Day 3 will start your program-specific technical training, which will be conducted by Arusha health educators and GSC staff. Over the course of the week long orientation seminar, you will apprentice and learn skills, ask questions, and become more familiar with Tanzanian culture. HIV/AIDS Program participants will discuss basic HIV/AIDS facts, including modes of transmission and methods of prevention, the cultural, economic, and social barriers that hinder the fight against the disease, and effective teaching methods for communicating this knowledge during the community trainings you will be providing. You will also have an opportunity to visit an HIV positive support group, hear about living positively with HIV in Arusha, and visit the GSC demonstration plot for the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security Program. Sustainable Agriculture Program participants will discuss basic sustainable agriculture background and techniques, practical and theoretical training of making compost, bio-intensive gardening, keyhole gardens, and integrated pest management. You will discuss effective teaching methods for communicating this knowledge to a variety of audiences. You will also have an opportunity to visit the GSC demonstration plot on the office grounds and to practice some techniques during the first week.

    For the first two days of orientation, you will continue to stay with the other newly arrived volunteers at a hostel where you will be provided breakfast each morning. Each day during lunch, the GSC Tanzanian staff counterparts will introduce you to a different local restaurant; during lunch time you will have the opportunity to exchange cultural ideas, ask questions, and just get to know your new Tanzanian friends! And dinner will be at your hostel or at a muzungu (white person) restaurant.

    Day 3 will be spent reviewing the daily curriculum for community trainings and will culminate with a meeting with your homestay mamas. They will then take you to your new home. This marks the beginning of your immersion into your Tanzanian extended family and community. Enjoy a traditional Tanzanian meal: ugali (corn meal porridge), sukuma wiki (vegetable greens), and maharage (beans)…and maybe samaki (fish) or kuku (chicken). With a full belly, settle into your homestays.

    DAY 4-7 Weekend Free to Explore: Day 4 – 5 Continue Orientation. On the weekend, days 6-7, enjoy free days prior to beginning your community training project work on week 2. You may choose to explore Arusha, take a group hike up the base of Mt. Meru to a beautiful waterfall, or go on a weekend game drive to one of several national parks.

    Project/Excursion: Depending on your program selection, subsequent weeks will be spent working together with fellow participants, local GSC staff counterparts, and GSC staff professionals to either assist in delivering HIV/AIDS prevention and nutrition education seminars or sustainable agriculture and food security trainings to community groups. Some participants’ days will include planned AIDS awareness lectures in the classroom or community, while others will conduct bio-intensive agriculture, keyhole garden and food security trainings. Depending on the scheduling logistics and the community’s needs at the time of your program, opportunities to provide trainings in rural villages may also be part of your assignment.

    WEEKS 4 AND AFTER: Volunteers participating in Integrated or Long-Term Programs will transition into their placements’ various other modules. The exact time frame for this transition will not only depend on their program length, but also on the community’s needs at the time of the program.

    Core Integrated Program participants will begin their program with either HIV/AIDS education or sustainable agriculture trainings and will transition to the other module.

    Those enrolled in an Expanded Integrated Program, a 12 week commitment, will be involved in HIV/AIDS education, sustainable agriculture and hospital placements. A minimum of 6 weeks in the hospital module is required.

    Community Development volunteers spend the initial weeks of their program providing their choice of either HIV/AIDS education or sustainable agriculture community trainings, followed by work in a variety of development projects based on the needs of the community at that particular time.

    In your off time, you can meet in a local restaurant to share a coffee, snack, soda barridi (cold soda), or Kilimanjaro or Safari (Tanzanian beers) with fellow GSC participants to talk about your successes and your frustrations, and learn from each other's experiences. You will be able to immerse yourself in Tanzanian culture while living with your new Tanzanian family and hanging out with your new Tanzanian counterpart friends.

    During the second weekend of your program, you and your fellow participants will be taken on a one-day excursion to a local reserve for spectacular wildlife viewing, a trip which is covered by your program fees to GSC.

    Throughout your time, you will learn to appreciate the Tanzanian relaxed sense of time, eat new foods, and learn new songs. You may use your free time to enjoy all that the wonderful country of Tanzania has to offer: long walks through the city and surrounding hillsides, football (don't call it soccer) with local school kids, and hours hanging out with fellow participants and Tanzanian friends. You can also join other participants to diminish the costs for weekend excursions to Tanzania’s many beautiful parks or points of interest. Most importantly, you will be providing life-saving information to your host community members beset by the devastating AIDS pandemic.

    Final Day Farewell: Give your "mama" (the family matriarch) one last hug goodbye before you go on your way. Some participants will travel by bus to Kilimanjaro Airport to catch a plane home. Others will head off to other destinations like Zanzibar, Mt. Kilimanjaro, or Nairobi to see all the beauty that East Africa has to offer. Still others are just getting started and are preparing for more memorable experiences as a long-term participant with GSC. Regardless of how long you are here for, you will undoubtedly be changed by your experience and will leave having gained new fellow participant and Tanzanian friends. 

    How do GSC participants educate about HIV/AIDS and sustainable agriculture?

    HIV/AIDS Prevention Program Participants: During orientation and training, volunteers receive instruction about how to become trainers as well as the technical information required. In terms of content, the focus of the message is prevention and knowing one’s status. This requires that we teach the basic biological facts about the virus, the progression of the disease in the body, the primary modes of transmission, and the most effective methods of prevention. In order that people know their status, during trainings we encourage each trainee to be tested. In addition, during some village trainings, a member of the community who is living a healthy life even though infected with HIV also attends the last day of training to talk to trainees about the benefits of knowing your status.

    While teaching, we encourage students and community members to share with us what they already know. This way, we can be sure to address myths and misinformation. In the end, the goal is to give the audience the tools that they need to make informed decisions. We cannot be there every time our trainees hear a new myth or story about the disease. But, we can help them to think rationally about HIV & AIDS and determine for themselves if what they are hearing is true.

    GSC trainers use a variety of methods to get our message across. To convey all the information that we need to, a basic talk is a necessary component of how we teach. However, we do our best to keep these talks as interactive as possible in order to keep the audience engaged and to adapt to what they already know. In addition, our participants have used skits, role-play, and other games to make learning active and fun. As a GSC participant, you will receive training in both the content and method of HIV/AIDS instruction from reading materials, from GSC staff, and from local health professionals who assist us on the project.

    Sustainable Agriculture Program Participants: The focus of the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security Program is small-scale bio-intensive agriculture and the construction of keyhole gardens.  This technology can provide both healthy food and additional income with a reduced requirement of labor and financial investment. This message is especially important for families and communities affected by AIDS. GSC volunteers receive basic HIV/AIDS information, bio-intensive agriculture technical training, and hands-on instructions at the GSC bio-intensive agriculture and keyhole garden demonstration plot. These international volunteers then work with GSC bio-intensive agriculture trainers to share this knowledge with rural communities through four-day trainings.

    Resulting from rural development projects funded by Fintrac and other funding sources, GSC’s volunteers will continue to receive technical training in the field, the details of which will depend largely on which trainings are needed by the local community at that time. When conducting these rural trainings, volunteers will work closely with GSC’s team of experts to educate local villages about improved nutrition and food security. Innovations being introduced include water catchment systems, keyhole gardens, , and sack gardens. 

    To whom will I give HIV/AIDS or sustainable agriculture seminars? Will they be arranged for me?

    Participants in the HIV/AIDS Prevention Program deliver HIV/AIDS, nutrition and health education training primarily to community groups, including women’s groups, those affected by HIV/AIDS, Maasai groups and other indigenous cultures. As a result of rural development projects funded by Fintrac and other funding sources, opportunities to provide trainings in rural villages may also be available. These trainings include a package of interventions designed to improve the health of vulnerable populations through nutrition and food security education.

    It should be noted that during the month of June, when the HIV/AIDS and Life Skills Day Camp Program is conducted, we also educate teachers and youth.

    Those volunteering in the Sustainable Agriculture Program conduct trainings primarily with local farmers’ groups. These are often comprised of women, populations affected by HIV/AIDS, Massai and other indigenous cultures. GSC has a permanent in-country sustainable agriculture Tanzanian staff and has a comprehensive long-term plan for working with these groups. Specific subjects taught will depend on the time of year and level of training the group has already received (if any). A diverse menu of trainings may include the basics of composting, double-digging and plant-spacing, crop rotation, pest management or nutrition. As described above, GSC’s expanded rural trainings provide volunteers with the opportunity to assist GSC staff to train Tanzanians on a village level as well. These local groups represent some of Tanzania’s most vulnerable populations and welcome GSC’s trainings, which help increase their food security and improve nutrition.

    The community trainings for short-term program participants will be arranged in advance. Some long-term participants, depending on their length of stay, may have the opportunity to work closely with the GSC staff to further expand their activities in the schools and/or into the community. 

    After the short-term or other volunteer abroad program, can I extend my serviced if I decide I would like to stay longer? 

    Many overseas volunteers feel that they are just getting into the swing of things as their short-term project is ending and wish that they had signed up to stay a longer period of time than originally intended. It is possible to extend a short-term or other program for extra days or weeks. Longer trips are usually more rewarding for the participant and we at GSC feel that the more time you are able to devote to your program, the greater impact you will have on the local community. We welcome you to participate for as long as you are able!

    If you decide to extend your program after you have arrived in the country you will be charged a per day fee for time added onto a trip. If you desire to extend please discuss this with the in-country staff. If they feel they can accommodate your extension they will then relay this information to the GSC-U.S. Headquarters office. GSC-U.S. Headquarters will work out your extended stay invoice and you will be required to submit the additional funds to the U.S. headquarters by cashier’s check or money order before your extended stay begins. It is not guaranteed that GSC will be able to accommodate your extension so it is best to decide before leaving your country how long you would like to stay. 

    If participating in the long-term volunteer abroad program, will I have time to travel?
     

    Your weekends will be free so that you will have time to tour the waterfalls of Mount Meru, explore area market days and visit nearby Maasai villages. While on your short-term trip, you will also go on the GSC arranged day long safari to a nearby national park! If you wish to do extensive traveling longer than weekend trips, please plan on doing so before or after your program. 

    What is covered by my program fees?

    Program Fees Include: Airport pick-u and project transportation, hostel and homestay accommodations, all meals, language and cultural orientation and technical training, project administration, and Tanzania day trip safari.

    Program Fees do not Include: Airfare* ($1,500 - $2,500), travel insurance* ($150 - $350), work permits* ($250 - $600) and visas* ($100).

    *These costs are estimates. Actual prices will depend on program length, your chosen vendors, visiting country's governmental regulations, and other factors beyond GSC's control.