Help in 'Watoto Wa' Tanzanian Orphanage

Watoto Wa African Orphanage in northern Tanzania is hoping for more volunteer help with their 108 orphaned children. One month would cost approximately £2000, three months £2800. The total cost includes air fares, visa, insurance, accommodation (rent, electricity, water, night watchman and a donation to the orphanage) and the Christians Abroad administration fee. Air fares may vary according to season.

Watoto Wa Orphanage needs people who want to make a difference. No special skills or qualifications are required except a love for children and a desire to change people’s lives. Volunteers should come ready for a challenge and be willing to put in some hard work! Watoto Wa was founded in 2000 by Josephat and Rosemary Kirutu, and was registered as a Tanzanian Non-Government Organisation in 2006. The primary focus of Watoto Wa is caring for orphaned and other vulnerable children. The orphanage is currently home to 108 orphans and street children. Accommodation for up to eight volunteers is provided in a separate, well-equipped, self-catering house.

A previous volunteer writes: “The house is in a lovely community, about eight minutes walk from the orphanage. It is a 3 bedroom house with a lounge room, dining room and kitchen. It has two toilets and two showers. It is on a large block of land that has a full fence and locking gate. The house is set amongst a variety of fruit trees such as mango, papaya and avocado, all of which you can pick and eat at your leisure. The house has a fridge (what a luxury!) and an equipped kitchen with basic cooking supplies such as electric kettle, electric cooker top, saucepans and frying pans. The lounge room has a table and several couches.  The bedroom has comfortable single beds, and is supplied with hanging mosquito nets, bedding and pillows. The house has running water and electricity, but this is not fully reliable and can be off at times due to lack of community infrastructure. 

Security is tight, there is a large fence that surrounds the house and a front gate which locks tight. There are protective bars on all of the windows and doors, with mosquito mesh covering all of the windows. The neighbours are very friendly and will look out for you as well.

It pays to remember that this is Tanzania and that living standards are not as we experience in the Western world. The toilets, which are squat toilets, are located in the floors next to the showers. The house is very clean and a great place to live. In comparison to the local housing it is a very beautiful house.

I would generally rise with the sun and eat breakfast at the house before packing my bag for my day at the orphanage. After arriving at the orphanage and greeting all of the household I would settle into helping with the chores which needed to be done, such as hand-washing clothes, dressing the younger children and preparing breakfast. After the schoolroom had been cleaned I would start teaching classes for the day. I would run classes for those not at school, generally the young children, until it was lunchtime, breaking when Rosemary would bring me my second breakfast at about 10 am.

Lunch is eaten at the orphanage and you have a couple of options. You can either bring food to cook, or eat with the children. A lot of children would arrive home for lunch from school, and after the second cleaning of the school house I would begin afternoon classes with a variety of groups. These classes are crucial for supporting the limited tutoring that they receive at school, owing to huge class sizes. I would continue teaching into the afternoon, breaking for a cup of Chai and a chat mid afternoon in between classes. The afternoon classes are usually interrupted when the sun has gone down by the call for 'Football', which is played on the field adjoining the orphanage. After playing a bit myself or just cheering on the teams, I would walk home and cook dinner before relaxing in bed with a good book.

Weekends were generally spent going to town for supplies, checking emails on the Internet in Mwanza, cleaning, going to church or just helping out in the orphanage. They are your time to relax and recuperate. You can also go touring and see Lake Victoria and the surrounding areas. 

It is important to understand that a lot of initiative can make your stay much easier; they will be reluctant to ask you to do things such as the chores, as they do not wish to ask their guest to do chores.  Jumping in and getting your hands dirty will allow you to bond so much faster with the family which is Watoto, because there is so much to do and so much of their life is about just the daily running of the orphanage. You can learn lots of Swahili whilst you work too! Impromptu drumming and singing lessons whilst cooking the food are some of my favourite memories.”