I enjoyed my two weeks volunteering with Kili Kids. I thought the organization had a number of good things working for them. They have a great system with an on-site teacher. At the same time, like any other nonprofit, they have their struggles. I was working with one of their board members to strengthen their orientation plan. A few of my fellow volunteers started to compile lists of phrases in Swahili that would be useful for volunteers to know before coming to the site. I started to look at a few of the Michigan Best Practices for Nonprofits that might be applicable for the group. I am putting together a full report for their staff by next month. I hope that my time was useful to them and I will always remember the experience and the kids.
A Hostel With A Mission
When I was looking for accommodation in Moshi, the coordinator at Kili Kids recommended that I stay at Hostel Hoff. Yes, the hostel is named after David Hasselhoff. The Hoff should be proud of this place not becasue of the name but because of their mission! The woman, Sarah, that developed the concept has focused the hostel around independent volunteering. There is a growing number of for profit companies that have emerged in Africa that coordinate volunteers for a fee. Unfortunately, many of these companies are not truly connected to the community and the proceeds of their work don't stay with the nonprofits in the region. Sarah was introduced to Moshi and Tanzania by one of those groups and she felt that there was a better way of connecting people to volunteer opportunities and building the capacity of local nonprofits. She helps place her hostel guests at volunteer placements at a variety of local nonprofits in Moshi without a fee. She makes her money through her hostel and organizing tours while the volunteer placement is done without a fee. A great way to circumvent those for profit companies. I spent two weeks there and really enjoyed the vibe. Though most of the other guests were in there 20's, there was a bond between us as volunteers.
A Small World Connection
In July of last year, I met Jessica Boyer and Michael Houdyshell outside of the Red Square in Moscow. They offered to take a picture of our group after they heard our American accents. We talked for no more than ten minutes before we went our separate ways. Surprisingly, Jessica and Michael had Michigan connections and they took my business card with my blog and contact information. Michael was a professor at Eastern Michigan University. In January, I received and e-mail from them saying that they were looking on the blog and that they would be in Africa around the same time. Though we crossed each others paths a few times over the months, we finally met up for a drink in Moshi before they did their hike of Kilimanjaro. We hope to catch up one more time in Egypt at the end of the month.