Jifundishe: Volunteer in Tanzania

A New Partnership: EJAfrica and Jifundishe

Volunteer Tourism is a fantastic and fast growing travel option for young people, families, or professionals looking to diversify the typical vacation experience. Because we get so many requests from clients for itineraries that include a volunteer component we always have our eye out for great organizations that work in the communities and areas where we send clients and we have just established a partnership with a great organization!

Volunteering at Jifundishe

“Jifundishe” (pronounced GEE foon DEE shay), in Swahili, means “teach yourself!”, and this small, grassroots organization has spent seven successful years creating and managing community education and health programs that empower local villagers in sustainable and effective ways. Jifundishe’s programs are primarily based out of the Jifundishe Free Library – a bright, beautiful, and bustling centerpiece of Ngongongare Village. The library is located on the road up to Arusha National Park halfway between Kilimanjaro and Arusha, the gateway to Tanzania’s most popular safari destinations and convenient to several airports.

While Jifundishe does offer some great opportunities for longer term volunteers, for Extraordinary Journeys they have put together three great half-day itineraries that are both helpful for the library and fun for travelers.

Visitors who choose to add a short volunteer visit to Jifundishe to their Tanzania trip will spend a half day experiencing Tanzanian village life, and contributing to Jifundishe’s wonderful educational efforts. Specifics vary slightly based on school and library schedules, but a typical experience may include a guided visit to a local school and medical clinic (which was built by Jifundishe in 2008), a walk through Ngongongare Village to see farms, learn local Swahili greetings, and to get a sense of life in a rural village. The walk will bring visitors to the Jifundishe Free Library, where they will meet students and patrons who have gained valuable new hope and inspiration from this incredible resource.

Visitors may have a chance to host a game and an educational activity with Jifundishe’s Children’s Program, which welcomes youth from a local orphanage, as well as “watoto” from around the village. Or visitors might have the opportunity to assist in one of the structured classes for older students – using flashcards, games, and discussions to help students hone their English skills (needed for their final exams!). Time permitting, visitors may also have the meaningful and intimate opportunity to visit one of the many families involved in the Jifundishe community – sharing “chai” and “chapati” – or learning to roast coffee or harvest plantains.

Each Jifundishe half-day volunteer experience will leaves visitor the richer for having participated and are designed to be fun for library patrons and visitors alike! The smiles, walks and realities of village life will provide travelers with an unforgettable experience and generate a meaningful connection to the amazing people and beautiful country of Tanzania. Visitors are encouraged to clean out their bookshelves or desks at home – any educational materials are received with much gratitude and eagerness by these library patrons!

Sample Day 1:

9:00am: Arrive at the Jifundishe Free Library where you will be greeted by the Jifundishe librarians and staff and given a brief tour of our flagship project.

9:30am-11:30am: Go on an UKAWAJI tour. Meet some of the local women who take part in our micro-lending program. This is a great opportunity to see what life in the village looks like!

11:30am: Return to the Jifundishe Free Library in time to see our Independent Study students finishing their first class of the day. Feel free to ask them questions—they will have plenty for you!

12:00pm-2:00pm: Head off to a local family’s house to try some local fare. Maybe you’ll even learn how to eat “ugali” like a true Tanzanian.

2:00pm: Say Kwa Heri!

Sample Day 2:

9:00am: Arrive at the Jifundishe Free Library where you will be greeted by the Jifundishe librarians and staff and given a brief tour of our flagship project.

9:30am-12:00pm: Take part in our children’s program. The Jifundishe Free Library welcomes children of all ages. Grab some crayons, children’s books, or even our parachute if you’re feeling adventurous and you’ll quickly have a crowd ready to join in! Depending on school schedules there are primary school students, children from the village, as well as children from a local orphanage.

12:00pm-2:00pm: Go “Duka” (little shop) hopping. Have some sweet local chai and mandazi (Tanzanian donuts) at the local shop. Around lunch time they get very crowded and you’re bound to return with some good stories!

2:00pm: Say Kwa Heri!

Sample Day 3:

9:00am: Arrive at the Jifundishe Free Library where you will be greeted by the Jifundishe librarians and staff and given a brief tour of our flagship project.

9:30am-11:00am: Grab a picnic table and some students and share some knowledge. Tanzanian students study in groups and whether you can explain English, Physics, Geography, or another subject entirely there are always students ready to learn! Be prepared for questions and to have a great time.

11:00am-12:00pm: Grab a soccer ball (we’re always looking for more if you have room in your bag!) and start a pick up game with some of the Jifundishe Independent Study students during their lunch break. Feel free to play at the library or head down to nearby Imbaseni Field.

12:00pm-2:00pm: Head off to a local family’s house to see their “shamba”. Maybe there will even be a chapati-making lesson!

2:00pm: Say Kwa Heri

We have seen the Jifundishe’s impact on the community with our own eyes and are tremendously excited that they have found a way to share their great work with our clients with these half-day volunteer visits designed for Extraordinary Journeys. Because of its location between the international airport at Kilimanjaro and the town of Arusha, a day with Jifundishe is an easy addition to a range of Tanzania or East Africa itineraries.

For more information email [email protected]