Seven Buildbase volunteers are embarking on a life changing expedition to help a school in Tanzania.
As part of a partnership with sustainable development charity Raleigh International, Buildbase invited staff to apply for the chance to spend seven weeks in Tanzania to help to build a school’s sanitation block.
Fifteen applicants were put through their paces, proving their determination in front of a senior panel of the Buildbase team.
Rory Simmons, who works in sales at the Grantham branch, was one of the seven lucky applicants to get through: “I thought Raleigh International would be something that I’d like to do, but never thought I’d get the opportunity. When I found out that Buildbase would provide the funding and all I had to do was prove I was worthy, I had to go for it, I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t. It’s not something that every 19 year old is offered on a plate.”
Candidates, such as Josh Ward, who works on the sales counter at Buildbase Grimsby, tried to stand out by thinking beyond a standard PowerPoint presentation, “I printed leaflets for the panel, explaining how I work well in teams and have leadership skills from playing lots of sport and that I’m happy outside my comfort zone.”
The Buildbase volunteers have just landed in Morogoro, four hours away from Dar es Salaam, for a week of training. They will then move to Nyamwezi where they will put their building skills to the test, helping to construct a hand washing station as well as finishing the toilet block by laying plumbing, fitting toilets, plastering, painting and adding doors.
Scarlett Manley is one of the volunteers who has just arrived, but is usually found in the sales team at Buildbase Milton Keynes: “I’m looking forward to meeting the local community, seeing how they live and learning how our project will change life for the community. We’ll be supporting other volunteers who are already there, building toilet and washing facilities and helping the local children to understand what it’s about and how it will help them.”
Before the facilities are handed over, the volunteers will share knowledge on operation and maintenance, ensuring the village is equipped with information to maintain the facilities once Raleigh Tanzania has left Nyamwezi.
For many, this will be the longest time they have been away from friends and family and the first time that they have travelled alone.
Volunteer, Connor Hanlon, a Sales Advisor at Buildbase Falkirk said: “I thought that applying for Raleigh International was a great opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and away from the luxury we take for granted at home. I am apprehensive about being in a completely different place. Obviously, I’ve been on holiday but always with family or my girlfriend. This time it will be just me, but I’m looking forward to that also.”
“Lot’s of people have asked if I’m nervous. No part of me is nervous or scared in any way. I play football and go to the gym, so I’ll be giving up those things and I’m sure I’ll miss my family and friends, but overall I’m just excited. Although I’m sure my bed will feel good when I get back after seven weeks,” added Josh.
Just like Josh, many of the volunteers are already anticipating how different the experience in Tanzania will be to their lives at home.
“In my day-to-day life I turn on a tap and get water, I press a switch and there’s electricity to watch TV. The things I take for granted aren’t there in some villages in Africa. I will experience a completely different life and culture,” said Rory.
But as well as apprehension, there is a lot of excitement among the willing group, as explained by Josh, “I’m excited about being away and experiencing different cultures, being with a group, and local people that I’ve never met before and working with them day in, day out. Each day will bring different challenges and opportunities. Some mornings we may wake up thinking that we want to go home, but that’s when we have to support each other as a team. “
The expedition will be a fantastic opportunity for the volunteers to develop skills that they can use when they return to Buildbase.
“I’m only 19 and want to be a manager, and I want to move up quickly. This project will give me the opportunity to progress. I hope to develop some of the skills I need to step up, things like leadership and teamwork. I’m looking forward to seeing how much I’ll develop and learn both physically and mentally. How I may change personally, as well as the way I view things,” said Rory.
“It’s about doing good, helping people and changing their lives for the better. And I think it’ll help my work at Buildbase as I’ll come back with a different outlook on life,” added Connor.
Picture: Buildbase Raleigh team (Back L-R) Elliot Megginson, Joshua Ward, Simon Brooker, Connor Hanlan. (Front L-R) Scarlett Manley, Rory Simmons, Max Squire, Zac Pirie