Volunteering or vacationing? Anna Vincent and Rosie Seabrook

Rubina, Rosie and Anna are volunteering with Safari English Club.  Rosie and Anna are from Ipswich and are on a gap year between school and university…this report is their thoughts now they’ve been in Zanzibar for just over a month… (more from Rubina next time!)

It’s very different volunteering somewhere as opposed to just coming for a holiday. You learn so much more about the everyday lives of the people, such as how their religion, education system and even relationships work. And it’s been really special to develop closer bonds with some of the local people which you’d never do on a holiday.


The children are all very sweet; having started off a little shy they are now very confident around us - the girls are particularly fascinated with us and love stroking our hair! They’ve been teaching us some Swahili, like the days of the week and questioning us with their phrase book! Their English ability can vary quite a bit, especially in Rubina's class, however this has meant some of her students to translate for her. The older students are also very keen to practice using their English, so come after lessons just to chat to us which is lovely. Whilst the children are often very excitable, behaviour in, and out, of class is generally very good. In class they are all eager to learn so will listen well and concentration usually manages to last for the full 90 minutes! They do sometimes like to go off topic to teach us Swahili, or to laugh at our attempts at Swahili. 

 In preparation for volunteering we did a TEFL course.  This has proved helpful, especially when the teachers wanted to learn phonetics, and when we were given past papers from another teacher who wanted help, again with phonetics. These papers were for exams he was taking to get into university to do English - and we both thought they were very hard! Learning about the tenses was also useful as I don't remember ever being properly taught this myself! However, other aspects were perhaps less useful as we are more limited on resources and, therefore, activities we can do with the children. Still, activities and materials suggested on the TEFL course act as a good base to adapt lesson plans from to suit our resources and the students' abilities.

The beach clean-up was a great experience to meet other people our age. It was also so good to see what learning English, and therefore getting into the better further education in Stone Town, enables people to do. Haroun went to Safari English Club and has now got funding from WCS (World Conservation society) to help him develop his Zanzibar Ocean Protection Foundation. Not only does he organise the beach clean-ups as fun days out for the group, taking a particular pride in the number of girls that attend. He’s also very concerned about making sure children get educated about the reasons for protecting the ocean and environment. One of his friends is in the process of setting up his own foundation looking at how to reuse and recycle some of the things they collect on the clean-ups. 

We’ve been very lucky in making friends here. One girl in particular, Namira, used to be a tour guide so has taken us on lots of tours and boat trips and introduced us to all the local food – Chipatis have become a daily favourite! This has been a great way to see things from a more local perspective, as she’s introduced us to many of her family and friends. Again highlighting the difference between our experience, living and volunteering here, and a holiday.

Overall, we’ve thoroughly enjoyed our time here and are incredibly grateful to everybody at Safari English Club and Zanzibar Learning 4 Life for enabling us to have such memorable experiences. Good luck in the future, we can't wait to hear how everyone is getting on!