My Tanzanian Work Experience

Hands holding paper airplanes
Author: Jennifer Mitchell

*This  volunteer opportunity was accessed through Uniterra's Leave for Change program as part of VIU's partnership, funded by the Global Engagement International Work Opportunity Grant. The Global Engagement Grant program is available to VIU staff and faculty.

When we drove in to the village of Haydom, I was a little bit shocked at how small and remote it was. I don’t know why I was surprised because when I Googled “Haydom, Tanzania” before I arrived, I got basically two results; One was a single paragraph on Wikipedia and the other was the website for Haydom Lutheran Hospital. Now I understand why I didn’t find much more information. The village is centered around the hospital and there really isn’t much more than that, a few shops and restaurants and people selling fruit and vegetables at the side of the road.

I am in Haydom because I am working with an NGO called Four Corners Cultural Program (4CCP). The organization was founded by the director of the hospital as a way of giving back to the community. It is called 4 Corners because this is the place where the 4 ethno-linguistic groups of Africa meet. 

4CCP began with a festival, the goal of which was to celebrate culture and to promote peaceful coexistence between tribes. It has grown to include many outreach and social assistance programs. My volunteer job was titled “Event Planning Advisor”, and given the limited information I found online I didn’t really know how much more 4CCP does until I arrived. The people at 4CCP have been very kind and have been keen to teach me about all of their outreach programs and even take me out in the field so I can see their work first hand. The outreach programs vary from community water projects, to school education programs, to supporting farmers and community economic development. 

I was amazed to learn about all of these programs, not only that they existed but that so much could be accomplished with so few resources. I’ve been working at 4CCP for about two weeks now and for at least three days we have been without power, which means no computers and no wifi. There are about twenty people working with the organization and they share six computers. There is no photocopier or printer and the office consists of a few tables and plastic lawn chairs. These people just keep going. It doesn’t matter how little they have, they just keep pushing forward, and little by little they are making an impact on their community. I’m hoping that I can help 4CCP in some little way, but I have no doubt that progress is happening here thanks to this organization.