A Different Path than Expected!

As an IYIP intern with Youth Challenge International, I have been given the opportunity to work on two areas that I am very passionate about – the environment and international development.  I thought I had a good idea about what working on environment and international development would be like. I thought I might be educating people on conservation issues like climate change and the need for tree planting, but where my internship has taken me is far from what I had anticipated!

My IYIP placement has taken me to Morogoro, Tanzania, where I am an intern with Faraja Trust Fund. Faraja is a health based community organisation, that is expanding its reach into environmental issues. Due to this I have been researching environmental issues in Morogoro town and how they relate to health.  This has led me to WASH – Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.

Prior to coming here I had never even heard of the acronym WASH before and now as I am diving deep into everything to do with WASH, I am learning so much more about health and how it is impacted by our environment. I have also learned how crucial it is that we address Water, Sanitation and Hygiene issues for both international development and the environment.  The UNDP states that 1.2 billion people live without access to safe water and 2.6 billion without access to sanitation, and according to UNICEF every day 5000 children die from Diarrhoea related illness. These are preventable deaths that are related to water, sanitation, hygiene, which is directly related to our environment and how we take care of it.

So as my internship has taken shape, I am focusing on raising awareness on water, sanitation, hygiene and other related environmental issues like waste management and composting  in an informal settlement  of Morogoro, called Chamwino.

It only takes a walk through Chamwino to see the environmental health issues all around; piles of garbage, burning  garbage next to houses, pools of stagnant water (due to drains being blocked with garbage), poor or no toilet facilities, no place for hand washing … and the list goes on.

In this community I am going to be working with the Primary and Secondary schools to raise awareness and implement activities that will help to make positive behaviour changes around these issues.  I am a strong believer in the power of youth and education to create change, and I feel that by working in these schools it will also lead to changes in the overall community.  I hope that by making the WASH education fun and interactive it will lead students to share what they learn with those around them, their friends and their family. This will hopefully allow the information to trickle down and impact the wider communities’ awareness about WASH.

So far I have done a couple introductory WASH presentations at the primary schools in Chamwino, – I have written about them on my blog at The Sustainable Path  I am now in the process of planning for a more in-depth WASH program to implement at these schools.

I am excited about the path my internship has taken me on, it’s not what I expected! But it has allowed me to learn a lot about WASH, and become passionate about addressing these issues and really linking environment, health and international development together.

Uluguru Mountains: My view on the way to work each day!

The many students at Chamwino Primary School, during my first WASH presentation

Me teaching about the importance of boiling water before you drink it to the Primary school students at Chamwino

– Jamie Van Egmond, IYIP intern, Tanzania 2011


5 Tips From The Field!

Hello Everyone!

I am currently living in Morogoro, Tanzania, as a YCI Intern with a local NGO called Faraja Trust Fund (also known as Faraja)! In short, I am starting up a new division for Faraja focused on environmental initiatives in the Morogoro Rural District. In particular, I am focusing my initiatives in the Kiroka Ward in its five villages: Bamba, Kiroka, Kiziwa, Kungwe, and Kikundi.

To start off environmental programming I have spent the first two months of my placement in and out of the villages working on a needs assessment process to help me determine the needs of the communities. This process has consisted of several village leader and community member dialogues in all types of environments and conditions!

Below is a photo of me eating lunch in one of the villages, and thereafter are a few photos of some of the needs assessment process in action!

Me enjoying a typical lunch of rice and beans in the rural village of Bamba

Needs assessment process in Bamba with community members

My coworker Soka driving a piki piki (motorbike) through rivers to get to a rural village

The environment in the Kiziwa village with my local guide showing me through some of the area for my environmental impact assessment.

Spending my time in and out of the villages I have picked up a few basic tricks that have been making my life I bit easier in the field and I would like to share them with you!

 #1 The Trick To Using Toilet Paper In The Villages!

So for those people who enjoy using toilet paper and are doing field work, I have figured out a few tricks to make your life a bit easier. Toilet paper is quite the luxury item in most parts of the world and as a result using it can cause a few issues. One, depending on the type of toilet, throwing toilet paper inside of it could cause things to plug or other environmental problems. Two, openly pulling out such a luxury item in sensitive village environments (even when they know that you probably use it) can really segregate you from the group you are trying to work with.

So I have come up with an easy and relatively ‘sanitary’ system that saves those problems!

1) If it is culturally acceptable to wear pants, then wear pants with big pockets on the thighs, if not, wear a skirt with pockets sown into the inside if at all possible.
2) Before you go out for the day, rip up small pieces of toilet paper into usable portions

3) Put the portions of toilet paper in one pocket

4) Put a small plastic bag (preferably a relatively durable one) in your other pocket

5) When you’re in the villages and you use the washroom, use the plastic bag to store your toilet paper. It may sound a bit gross but it is the most practical solution I have found thus far (when you get back to town, dispose of the bag then).

6) Lastly, don’t forget to use your hand sanitizer or find a way to properly wash your hands!

#2 The ‘Hand Washing’ Tip

Washing your hands is integral when you’re working in remote environments, especially before you eat a meal! In most of the villages I have worked in thus far, soap is an expensive item only to be used for ‘essential’ purposes including things like washing your clothes and (sometimes) dishes, but not really for washing your hands. However, before every meal I have found it culturally essential that even if you have utensils you at least wash your hands with water. The problem with using only water is that your hands are actually still dirty so I have come up with a solution.

Although I am not a big supporter of hand sanitizer, sometimes its all you have! So to ensure you are doing the culturally sensitive approach, I recommend washing your hands with the water provided first and then using the hand sanitizer shortly after. Although I have had a few looks from people wondering what I was putting on my hands, for the most part no one even notices because they were just happy I washed my hands in the first place!

#3 Rubber Boots ARE Fashionable!

It doesn’t matter what you had planned to do for the day or not, when you’re doing rural work you never know what you are going to get into! Time and time again I thought I was going on a simple one hour village trip and before I knew it I was hiking through rivers, farmers fields, and puddles of mud the size of small ponds! So even if you think you have a plan for the day and you should stay relatively clean, rubber boots are a very ‘fashionable’ addition to your wardrobe!

#4 Carry At Least One Facecloth/Bandana in Your Pocket

Not only are facecloths great for wiping up sweat from the never ending African sun, they come in handy for other things in everyday life. Whether it be to wipe off the seat of a wet Piki Piki (motorbike) after a rain storm or it be used to wrap around a really cold bottle of soda there is always something a cloth can be used for!

#5 Just Tie Your Hair UP!

Although you may be thinking it looks fashionable to wear your hair down, don’t be surprised to find many little critters crawling in it by the end of the day! Not only is wearing your hair up more practical for the bugs, its also more practical for the heat you may be experiencing while under the hot African sun.

-Larissa Duma, IYIP Intern, Tanzania 2011

For more International Youth Internship Program (IYIP) blogs, check out our IYIP section.

Trevor in Tanzania: Week 4

Trevor Thame is currently half-way through his 8-week volunteer project with YCI in Zanzibar. Trevor is working with a team of 6 volunteers working on ESL, computer training, HIV/AIDS education and environment initiatives. Trevor’s blog provides insight into life on project in Zanzibar and gives a fantastic sense of both work and play in Tanzania. Check it out!

“Environmental programming has been comming along as well and Alysha and I have created a draft proposal for YCI to work with local partner organizations. We used composting as an example of how YCI volunteers would like to spread awareness and educate citizens on Zanzibar about environmental issues. We have researched the benefits of composting and have begun addressing many of the current issues surrounding waste management on the island. So many days here I find myself feeling a little off, and it is mostly because of the poor air quality. Plastics, papers, and anything that could burn gets burned here. There are days where the burning is really bad and Alysha and I are really eager to leave some programming behind that may begin to change the way in which people handle their garbage. Next Thursday, we will be visiting a few partner organizations to find out more specific environmental needs, and will determine the governments position of waste management on the island. It is really easy for me to tell people not to burn all their garbage, but it’s not about telling them what not to do, it is about providing plausable alternatives and at this point I certainly don’t have those answers. I do look forward to meeting the partners however, and hope to begin finding some of the answers that are desperately needed. I only have a month remaining so, for now, it’s more about leaving something behind for the next group of volunteers to take to the next level….

– Trevor Thame, YCI Youth Ambassador, Tanzania 2011

For more volunteer blogs, check out our Travel Diary category.

Due to popular demand, YCI recently launched an additional 8-week project this summer in Tanzania. Click here for more information.