Starting an NGO 101

I arrived in Zanzibar six days ago by ferry from Dar es Salaam. I took a 12 hour bus from Arusha to Dar es Salaam and stayed the night at an Airbnb place before taking the ferry the following morning. The bus ride was amazing, we paid $15 USD for a luxury bus. It had complimentary refreshments and the seats were so comfortable. My Airbnb host was really nice as well, she drove me to the ferry the next day for a price slightly lower than a regular taxi. But you can’t trust the taxis in Dar es Salaam, I’ve heard so many horror stories.

I knew nothing about the organization or my host family before arriving in Zanzibar. That’s how it works for most places on workaway. You get minimal information until you arrive. Just gotta go with the flow. I learned after arriving that the organization I was going to work for is called Perspective Development Skills (PDS). The head of the organization, Azafa, explained his vision of PDS being a skills center where youth can learn trades for employment. He wants to establish a computer course, a driving course and a sewing course. But for now, they only offer an English course, which is what I’m here for. He gave me an entire orientation upon my arrival. He told me everything about the organization and where he needs my help. I felt adequately equipped. Unlike in Arusha, where my “orientation” consisted of the walk to the classroom and a book being handed to me.

The organization currently consists of children and “youth”. I put quotation marks because they’re basically adults, most of them are older than me. Since I am the only volunteer here as of right now, I teach both age groups. Some of the children are orphans, and they pay no fee. But the others have to pay a small amount to help with the organization. The organization currently has no source of income. Most of the money comes from the pockets of Azafa, he has a full time job and does marketing on the side, kind of like Avon. The PDS slogan is, “struggle today for a better tomorrow”, so he willing puts money into PDS for whatever its needs are. But I don’t think this is a very sustainable way to run an organization.

During my time here, I’ve thought of a couple of projects I want to get going. Firstly, I want to establish our own Workaway page. Until now, PDS has been relying on a woman named Shara to get volunteers. She created a Workaway page for multiple NGO’s in Zanzibar, and that’s how I found PDS. But there is no actual information about PDS on the Workaway page. I think people will be more interested in volunteering for us if they knew more about PDS and our mission. We created a Workaway page on my third night here. We’re currently waiting for our profile to be verified by admin.

Another goal I have is to establish a fundraising page. I had talked about maybe starting a website and fundraising through there, but websites are difficult and expensive to establish. PDS doesn’t even have any computers yet. Instead, we are going to make a Gofundme page. Azafa is currently opening a bank account just for PDS, after that’s done, we are going to make the fundraising page. We are going to fundraise for computers, sewing machines, books, and furniture for the classrooms.

On the side, I’m also promoting our Facebook page. Azafa has no idea how Facebook works. Another volunteer started the page during her week one stay. We had 0 followers when I arrived, now we have 14. Wohoo.Heres our Facebook page, like and follow if you want to get more instant updates about what I’m doing (there’s pictures!). The posts for the next five weeks are all going to have me in it.

I think this organization has a lot of potential. Azafa has ambition and vision for PDS, he just needs someone with computer skills to give him a little help. I’m excited for the rest of my five weeks here. I feel like I’m actually helping and doing useful work. Not like back in Arusha where they threw me in a classroom and gave me a book. It felt like they just wanted to give me something to do.

Next post will be about my life here in Zanzibar and my amazing host family!


Long time no talk (UPDATE)!

Sorry for the lack of updates for the past couple of weeks. Life in Arusha became more and more routine, I didn’t feel the need to write about every single thing. Also, posting these blog posts was using up a lot of data. But these blog posts aren’t for me, they’re for my friends and family back home who want to know what I’m up to. So I’m going to make a compromise, to post more often but without pictures. I will try to make a video about my Tanzania trip at the end, so you can see all my best photos and memories.

Right now I’m in Zanzibar and here’s how that happened:

Before I left for Tanzania, I hung out with a friend whom I haven’t seen in two years. She told me her boyfriend went to Tanzania and loved it. He also went to Zanzibar and said it was very beautiful. It was my first time hearing about Zanzibar, I didn’t do ANY research about Tanzania before going. I didn’t want to “travel”, I didn’t have the money for it. I just wanted to volunteer and learn about the culture. But after hearing about the beautiful island of Zanzibar from my friend, I decided that I had to go. Initially, I wanted to spend a month there, so I went on workaway that night and found a host in Zanzibar. I sent them a message and waited patiently for their reply.

Days passed and nothing. So while in Arusha I started looking for other places in Zanzibar, maybe even Dar es Salaam. I wasn’t very happy in Arusha (so much to tell you, but later). I was eager to find a new host. I messaged a few people but only one from Dar es Salaam replied. I had to pay money for this place as well, but not as much. I paid $70 USD in Arusha a week and there I only had to pay $50 USD. Well luckily for me, the first Zanzibar host replied after two weeks! She was away and could not respond sooner. She told me that the accomodation and food in Zanzibar is free. I could not have been happier.

During this time, Ana told me that she wanted to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. For those of you who are unaware, Kilimanjaro is the highest point in Africa. I had the intention of going, but no real conviction. When Ana said the reason she came to Tanzania was to climb Kilimanjaro, I wanted to join her on this adventure. She said she was going to go on the sixth week of our volunteering stay since she had plans to go to Zimbabwe afterwards. We found a local guide who lived a 5 minute walk away from our house. The trip to Kilimanjaro was perfect, I will have a post later on all about it!

That was the new plan, five weeks in Arusha, one week on Kilimanjaro, and the rest of my six weeks here in Zanzibar. It could not have turned out more perfect. I’m in Zanzibar now and enjoying every moment.