The first of three spotlight blogs on Buildbase / Hirebase employees volunteering with Raleigh International this autumn. Simon and Maxwell from Alpha 2 have been busy working on a school water, sanitation and hygiene (SWASH) project at Nanenane school in Nyamwezi, funded by Buildbase / Hirebase. We looked for their insights on working in a rural Tanzanian village. Besides the construction of new toilet blocks, handwashing station and menstrual hygiene management (MHM) room, Alpha 2 two are also delivering SWASH and MHM lessons for the students at Nanenane.
It was midday at the Nanenane building site and the sun was punishing; under some shade, I asked Maxwell how this site compared to those in the UK, “We still have the same energy, but it is a lot harder when it is really hot,” he said, also insistent to mention Fiskerton, a small village in Lincolnshire where he worked before coming on expedition, “It’s hard graft – we work 8 to 5 a day and know what working life is like.”
Simon, hailing from a different part of the country, working in Hampshire with a NVQ in carpentry, has also worked in building sites before, mixing cement and laying bricks – part of the work which he now also does in Tanzania, “Also worked in a team before; used to run the work yard and had 3-4 staff with me.”
Thousands of kilometres from home, they showed a craving for learning and first-hand experience of both a new place and culture. When asked what drew him to Tanzania, Simon recalled, “I wanted the experience and wanted to learn how other people live in the world, learn how they dealt with living with nothing and feel it for myself.”
Maxwell added, “It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity; different in real life when you actually see it and you live with the community and realise how hard it is.”
Collaboration with Tanzanian fundis (builders) is an important part of the work and despite the cultural difference and absence of communication in the same language, both Simon and Maxwell have found positives in the different style of working they have encountered; working as a team, getting the day’s work completed on time, in a different environment.
Additionally, with personal development as a goal, both volunteers have steered away from the familiarity of their professional remit and took part in SWASH lessons at the school, promoting the importance of hand washing with soap to stop the spread of diseases and as Simon highlighted, in scope of Raleigh’s lasting change element, “We teach the students to take that back home to community members and elders.”
Despite integrating in a new reality, both volunteers recall why the opportunity was possible to begin with, as Simon states of the Buildbase / Hirebase partnership with Raleigh, “Amazing giving young people an opportunity to come out, not many companies will do this.”
Further updates from Nyamwezi this week – stay tuned!
Words by Miguel. Images by Paul.