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Volunteering at Forever Angels Baby Home: Everything you need to know!
If you haven’t quite been persuaded yet to come and spend some time volunteering at Forever Angels Baby Home, click here.
So you’ve decided to come and do some volunteering at Forever Angels? Here’s everything you need to know.
There are a few different options for getting to Forever Angels Baby Home:
- Home country –> Dar es Salaam –> Mwanza
- Home country –> Kilimanjaro –> Mwanza
- Home country –> Nairobi –> Dar es Salaam –> Mwanza
These usually involve a short stopover to change planes between your home country and Dar es Salaam / Kilimanjaro. British Airways offer direct flights to Nairobi.
Option 1, coming via Dar es Salaam is usually the cheaper option, but it totally depends on the time of year.
Tip: Book your main international flights separately to your Dar es Salaam/Kilimanjaro –> Mwanza flight. This usually saves some money! Dar es Salaam to Mwanza is currently cheapest with Air Tanzania.
Preparing to Leave
If possible, obtain your business visa in your home country before coming to Tanzania. This avoids long queues at Dar es Salaam airport. If coming from the UK, this is very easy to do at the embassy in London – you don’t need an appointment, just visit the Tanzania High Commission at 3 Stratford Pl, Marylebone, London W1C 1AS (near Bond Street station) between 10am and 2pm. They offer a same day service for £200, next day for £190, or 3 working days for £180. Pick your passport up again at the same place at your allocated time.
Make sure to get your phone unlocked so that you can use a local sim card in Tanzania.
What to Pack
Clothing: Bring lots of clothes that you don’t mind getting grubby in! Remember that Tanzania is a conservatively dressed nation, and shorts / strap tops are not appropriate. It’s also a good idea to bring a few nicer outfits for evenings out, but this isn’t essential. Slip on shoes are definitely necessary for going in and out whilst you’re volunteering at Forever Angels, whilst trainers are a good idea for safari.
Toiletries: Bring all your toiletries from home that you may need whilst you’re out here. Import charges on products like sun cream are expensive, so it’s better to bring them from home. Sanitary products like tampons are very hard to find in Mwanza, so don’t forget these.
Things for the kids: Check with Amy beforehand as there are often some specific items that the Baby Home needs. It’s a great idea to bring materials for any specific activities you are wanting to organise, and face painting always goes down brilliantly.
Miscellaneous: Try to bring some good books and DVDs with you for the evenings to keep you occupied!
Arriving in Tanzania
One key recommendation is to obtain a local sim card at Dar es Salaam airport upon arrival. Vodacom gets the best signal at the Baby Home (it’s even good enough to video call home!), and there’s a stand that sells sim cards on the right as you come out of Arrivals at Dar airport. Ask them to set you up with a sim in English, and provide you with TSH 17 000 of top up vouchers. These work like scratch cards to top your phone up with money, which you then must convert to a bundle. Follow the instructions below.
Dial *104*code on voucher# Then press call.
Repeat for all vouchers until TSH 17 000 is loaded
To buy an internet bundle:
Select Option 4 àOption 1 àOption 3 àOption 1 àOption 2 àOption 1
This gives you 10GB of data that will last for 7 days. This will cost TSH 15 000 of the 17 000 loaded on already.
To buy a calls and text bundle:
Select Option 3 àOption 4 àOption 2 àOption 1 àOption 1
This gives you 200 SMS and 25 minutes of calls that will last for 7 days. This will cost TSH 2000 of the TSH 17 000 loaded on already.
You may find you need less than this each week, so you can reduce the bundles in future weeks once you get the hang of it! There is WiFi at the Baby Home, but it’s not that reliable. Vouchers for more credit can be bought at the shop opposite the Baby Home, but sim cards need to be purchased either at Dar airport or in the main Vodacom shop in Mwanza.
Once you’ve flown to Mwanza, the managers from the Baby Home will be there to pick you up from the airport and bring you on the short journey (approximately 15 minutes) to the Baby Home.
Take the first day to settle in and meet all the amazing staff and other volunteers! Within a few days, you’ll receive an orientation meeting to formally show you around the Baby Home and explain volunteer duties – lots of which are explained here.
Volunteering at the Forever Angels:
Volunteers are asked to complete five six hour shifts per week, and a rota will be set up once you’ve arrived. A typical day might look like this:
7.30am: Volunteers go up to the Baby Home to help with showering / towelling / putting nappies on the children after they’ve had breakfast
8am: Volunteers go into the Tiny Baby House to help with their morning bottle feed
8.30am: Volunteers help with the little toddler pre-school
9.30am: Volunteers help with the big toddler pre-school
10.30am: All children have snack time, and the SEN Mamas may need help to feed the children
11am: Activity such as yoga in the garden with the toddlers, or spending one to one time with the SEN children.
12 midday: All children have a two hour nap time. Volunteers can get lunch from the Baby Home kitchen.
2pm: Children wake up from nap to have lunch. Volunteers organise afternoon activity or trip.
3pm: Afternoon activity or trip.
5.00pm: Children have dinner.
5.30pm: Toddlers have bedtime shower, whilst big babies play.
6pm: Big babies go to bed, and all toddlers watch some TV in the playroom whilst getting into PJs.
6.45pm: Volunteers read a bedtime story to the children, before they go to sleep at 7pm.
Throughout the day, the tiny babies are fed every three hours, at 8am, 11am, 2pm, 5pm. Help here is always appreciated!
Here’s a list of ideas. It’s great when volunteers bring new ones – volunteering at Forever Angels means getting stuck in!
Bubbles, paper aeroplanes, colouring, puppets, puppet making, face painting, paddling pool play, mud kitchen play, yoga, sports races, pretend cinema, car wash, parachute, treasure hunt, painting, birthday parties, themed dress up, musical instruments, reading time, drive through cinema…. The list is endless!
This is one of the huge benefits that the people can bring to when they’re volunteering at Forever Angels. Here are some ideas for trips:
- Swimming at Isamilo International School. The big kids LOVE this. The Baby Home has membership so make use of it! Remember to provide a swimming costume to the mamas that are coming with you.
- This is one of the bigger trips you can do as it’s about 45 minutes away. The selection of animals is somewhat limited, but their snakes, crocodiles and camels make it worth it! Entry is TSH 20 000 per volunteer, TSH 5000 per mama and TSH 3000 per child. Camel and horse rides are an additional cost.
- Malaika play area. Malaika hotel has a great play area for kids, charged at TSH 5000 per child.
- Tunza beach. On weekdays, entry to this hotel beach is free, and the kids love to go and play in the sand.
- Kuliana’s Pizza. This amazing NGO has a great pizzeria that is very child friendly, in the centre of town. It’s great to take the kids out for a meal with some colouring!
- Rock City Mall. A wander around Rock City Mall is an excellent way of showing the kids life outside the Baby Home. There’s also a mini waterpark!
You don’t have to take the kids so far away either – volunteering at Forever Angels can involve staying a bit closer to home! Taking them for walks around the local area is a great way to get them out and about. Kanga walks with the big babies is a favourite too!
Getting Around Mwanza
The Baby Home is situated in a small suburb of Mwanza city, and it takes around 15 minutes to drive into town. In town there are two main supermarkets (U-Turn and Delish, both are on Google Maps) where you can buy some (albeit limited) imported foods such as baked beans, pasta, tuna, cereal etc. There is also a supermarket called NoNo located at Rock City Mall. For fruit and vegetables, it’s possible to get these from the local market, but for larger variety, use MJ Piki’s delivery service. An amazing NGO designed to support female Piki Piki (motorbike taxi) drivers, will take orders for fruit and vegetables and deliver to the baby home the next day. They charge TSH 7000 for delivery, and obtain much better prices in the market than foreigners can! Their number is: +255 744 951 820.
To get to places in town, it is best to call the highly trusted taxi driver, Abel. His number is: +255 713 252 588. He knows the baby home very well and is very reliable. He charges TSH 10 000 from the Baby Home into town. Once you’re more familiar with the area, it’s possible to get local transport in the form of the Dalla Dalla, which is a much cheaper way to get around. You’ll need someone to show you where to go though!
Similarly, ask someone to show you around Mwanza town. The market is amazing, but be careful with valuables. If you’d like to get clothes made, there is a brilliant local tailor called Cecilia – she will come and meet you to take you fabric shopping, and make amazing clothes for you in a matter of days. She knows the Baby Home well, and can deliver. Her number is: +255 758 016 090.
Read about things to do on days off, when you’re having a break from volunteering at Forever Angels, here.
What happens if I get sick?
Don’t panic! Sometimes our bodies react differently to the bacteria that we’re not used to. CF Hospital is excellent, with very kind doctors. Get a taxi here (TSH 15 000 with Abel) and you’ll be back on your feet in no time.
Go have the best time volunteering at Forever Angels! Feel free to drop me a message anytime with any questions!
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