We are not really helping

Hey I’m George and I’m a volunteer.

Selfies with black children, teaching without qualifications, “helping”… shown like this, going abroad to volunteer is very stupid.

I’m a volunteer in Tanzania, teaching computer at a secondary school in the Southern Highlands. My 5 working Computers (Windows 2000) came with a Peace Corps IT program, now they belong to the church owned private school. I’m trying my best to teach as many students as possible, as much as possible. And what should I say it’s working sometimes….

We are not talking about super poor children. We are talking about children, whose parents can afford a yearly school fee, as high as a monthly teachers wages. (Teacher with a Bachelor’s degree)

If I wouldn’t be there, there wouldn’t be computer lessons. Computer is not a registered subject at my school, there are no examination and honestly, no one would really miss my work.

My work is a nice to have and nice to show visitors thing, nothing more.

“The animal shelters in Tanzania are better than in Europe”

Before you ask: Yes I feel bad sometimes, because other volunteers are working 47 hours a week. (And I got 17, but only because I found some more work outside of the school.)

And yes: I think there are more useful and more useless volunteer emplacements.

And even more: More useful and more useless volunteer concepts.

I’m in a government supported Program. A volunteer year cost around 10,000€ and only 2000€ should be payed (personally or thrue donations) by the volunteer.

And then there are private volunteers, often send by companies, specialised on volunteer programs.

Volunteer ≠ Volunteer

While “we” government volunteers are required to learn the language, stick to cultural rules, attend seminars and write reports, private volunteers can do whatever the fuck they want. And a lot of them do.

The very often “work” in orphanages, where there spend their day playing (includes taking various photos) with the children and telling the workers, that their way of doing things is wrong.

As I learned, there are even private volunteers in animal shelters.

(Yes, there are animal shelters in Tanzania. A country with a fucking high HIV rate, so high, that most of the hospitals have their own orphanage! #tacklingtherealproblems)

Volunteers are (normally) not helping

(If you are a volunteer, returning your HIV/Malaria/… project you might be excluded, but) most of the volunteers don’t “help”.

We were told to don’t talk about our work as “helping”.

How dare you think, that you just could come to a place and tell people, that lived there for a lifetime, how she should do things “right”. Probably you aren’t the first volunteer nat your place.

You are probably 18 or 19, you finished Highschool and you “want to make a difference”. Forget it.

Volunteering can be an awesome thing, but only with the right mindset.

I think volunteering is about learning. Learning a new language, learning new ways of doing things, learning about your own prejudices, learning about a culture and learning how to live in this culture.

And this process shouldn’t be a one way thing.

Really that’s the thing behind it. Exchanging ideas and try to understand each other.

And please stop taking selfies with black children, to show how awesome you help them.

As I mentioned I am searching supporters for my volunteering. I would be so happy ;)


(Hey, if you are German you can even get a Spendenquittung! Just contact me)

(Picture: saviour barby Instagram)