Volunteering In addition to running our two year exchange programme we can also assist folk who wish to volunteer in the Rungwe area. Typically volunteers will be looking for opportunities to work in the community in Rungwe but are not directly involved in our activity programme and cultural exchange activities. Volunteers are self-financing and have come from both from Cumbria and elsewhere in the UK.
Over recent visits volunteers have travelled with the main group and then spent their time on placement in the area. In particular we have re- built a relationship with the rehabilitation centre which was originally near Lutangano and is now at Katumbar 11 primary school near Tukuyu. This school has boarding facilities for disabled children who learn alongside local youngsters and is a great way for Physiotherapists to assist and coach the resident therapy workers who have no other formal training. In recent years, through separate funding, we’ve help support in-situ training of staff and also training on the application of Appropriate Paper based Technology (APT) to make bespoke furniture for disabled children.
Together with our RCCL partners we can also assist volunteers in finding suitable placements and provide advice on travel and accommodation. Once in Rungwe members of the RCCL can provide on the spot assistance if needed. A number of volunteers have spent extended periods from a few months to several years teaching or providing educational support in our partner schools.
Here are the reflections of Kate and Lily, who volunteered in 2014 and 2008.
Kate: Visiting Tanzania in the summer 2014 as a Physiotherapy student volunteer as part of the CRCL was not only an amazing personal experience but was also a fantastic opportunity as part of my professional development.
Having never travelled outside of Europe before, the trip was a big thing for me but I relished the chance to experience another culture, meet new people and also work with other therapists. I would describe the experience as fun, rewarding, emotional and unforgettable. The mission and values of the CRCL are wonderful and I was proud to be part of the 2014 outward visit and to provide my assistance at the Katumba II project. Although it was a challenging and eye-opening experience working with the therapists, children and outpatients at Katumba, I found it rewarding and undoubtedly beneficial for my professional development.
The challenge provided by the language barrier and a different culture’s approach to working helped develop my interpersonal, communication and organisational skills and also my ability to clinically reason. I aim to return in 2016 as a newly qualified Physio and use my skills to help train the Tanzanian therapists to provide effective, much needed therapy for the children at Katumba II and people from the surrounding area.
Lily: I travelled to Rungwe in 2008. I was a second year medical student who was interested in gaining some experience of tropical medicine and found out about the link through a friend who grew up in Cumbria and had been out to Tanzania. The leaders in Cumbria helped me get in touch with the local hospital via their friends in Tukuyu and I travelled out with the group and spent some time living alongside them. The month I spent in Tanzania was incredible. Not only did I gain invaluable medical exposure to the difficulties faced of healthcare in this setting but I was blown away by the openness and honestly of the Tanzanians I met. I was invited to so many homes, and everyone wanted to give me a tour! I was also really impressed with the role that the link played in the community and the positive effect the trip had on the young participants. I think this link is so valuable for the communities themselves and for the volunteers involved (on both sides). I count myself very lucky to have been involved and to have spent such a magical month in Tukuyu.