What’s New in 2023?
It’s already February – how time flies! So we think it’s high time for a little general update and an overview of changes in the new year.
First of all, we hope that you have all started into 2023 well, healthy and optimistic. For us, 2022 was a successful, happy year, marked by many changes. The great development of our projects, the growth of our team and our volunteers make us infinitely grateful. Our resolution for 2023 is to work even more closely with our projects to ensure, together with our volunteers, even more targeted and sustainable support. In the following nine points, we would like to present you with a short list of our goals and plans for the still fresh year of 2023:
1. From this year on, there will be fixed arrival and departure days. This is to avoid unrest in the volunteer houses and host families due to daily arrivals and departures. With our new system, our orientation days will now always take place on Fridays. New volunteers will then have time to settle in over the weekend before they can start their first project week on Monday, relaxed and rested. At the moment, we are still in a transitional phase, as we still allow flexible travel for volunteers who registered before the rule change. Soon, however, we will have completely changed over to the new system.
2. We have increased our minimum stay from 2 to 4 weeks. Hand on heart, two weeks is simply not enough time to settle into a completely foreign culture and find your tasks in the project. You should allow at least one month! (In justified cases we are prepared to make exceptions).
3. Our team will continue to grow. While Jule will take a short break as volunteer coordinator this year, two of our former volunteers will enrich our team!
4. Last year we bought a beautiful plot of land in Njiro, Arusha and have thus come one step closer to our dream of a small STEP Village. The foundation stone for our new volunteer house is to be laid this year! The STEP Village will unite our existing houses and will be built in such a way that we can meet the needs of our volunteers for community, but with the possibility to retreat from time to time, the desire to be close to nature and to experience everyday African life while at the same time having western amenities. We can hardly wait, but: one step at a time. 🙂
5. Since Corona we have noticed that the demand for private rooms has increased significantly. We will therefore temporarily open a third hostel again in the summer and convert numerous shared rooms into private rooms (single and double/twin rooms) for this purpose. In 2021 we already had three hostels at times, but in 2023 there will be a decisive difference: more staff and a better distribution of tasks:
6. Soon our members will be divided between our volunteer houses and host families as main contact persons. For our volunteers, this means that they will have at least two permanent contact persons per accommodation who are responsible for them in all matters. This creates a more personal atmosphere and ensures that volunteers and STEP team can build a closer relationship of trust.
7. Together with our German partner association Giving Smiles e.V., we are planning to improve the support of the projects through targeted assistance, the establishment of project sponsorships and the involvement of current and former volunteers as project coordinators. More updates will follow soon!
8. The most important time of their stay is spent by our volunteers in the projects. We would like to be able to accompany and follow the work of our projects and developments even more intensively and be available to our volunteers as contact persons and mediators not only after the project but especially during the project time itself. Since this year, our team of supervisors has therefore intensified the project visits in order to be able to assist all volunteers directly in the project at least once a week, ideally even more often. Project work is not always easy, because it requires a lot of creativity and initiative. Sometimes it is helpful if our team can contribute ideas and impulses for successful project work directly on site.
9.I, Kira, have been running STEP Africa for almost 9 years now and have been the main contact person for our volunteers day in and day out during most of this time. STEP has grown immensely in the past years and with it not only the number of our volunteers in the field, but also the amount of administrative tasks, the work behind the scenes, which, besides our work with our volunteers and projects, is one of the most important pillars of a successful organisation: Accounting, communication with the authorities, public relations, personnel development and the content-related orientation and objectives of STEP Africa: all this wants to be done and all this takes up a lot of time. In the past years, my family, especially my children, often had to take a back seat, because STEP Africa is also my “baby”. Nevertheless, family should always come first and especially in those last few years, which have been very stressful, I have often found that there just wasn’t enough time. I have therefore decided to withdraw more and more from active volunteer support this year and leave this to my motivated and qualified team. I am incredibly proud of my team and know that together, and with the help of our volunteers, we will continue to achieve a lot!
STEP Africa stands for community, intercultural exchange, friendship, adventure and meaningful support for sustainable projects in Tanzania. Only with your support could we get this far and only with your support will we continue to walk this path together. We thank you for your trust in STEP Africa!