What a Year it’s been!
This year, more than ever, our volunteers have proven themselves to be a force of change and joy. It is always very important for us to emphasize that volunteering in Tanzania means making a difference on a small scale. But if you look at the current times and especially the year that is now ending, then you can without a doubt speak of overwhelming changes!
We are infinitely grateful for the year 2021 and in the following would like to give you a little insight.
First of all, we were able to welcome a large number of volunteers to Arusha this year. Many of our participants were finally able to make up for their stay that was postponed due to Corona from the previous year. But the number of our new registrations was also higher than ever. We would like to thank each and every one of you from the bottom of our hearts for this trust. Due to the great response, we were able to open a second hostel in Arusha in June, which is now well established. Simply called by all the “2. Hostel ”or “Tanesco Hostel”, named after the nearest bus stop, and known for the monkey gang that regularly roams the garden on weekends. A third hostel opened in September, but it was clear from the start that it would only exist for a temporary period: The Spring Hostel. “Spring” because it was open exactly for the period of the African spring. The remaining “Spring Crew” moved into our headquarters in Rashida Street (the “1 Hostel”) on Monday and we are looking forward to a nice Christmas season with the volunteers from Hostel 1 and 2 🙂
Our team has also grown and we were able to welcome some new members. You can find details under “About Us”. STEP Africa as a social enterprise not only aims to support our projects and organize an unforgettable stay for volunteers, but also to create jobs in a country in which far too many people have no income whatsoever through no fault of their own. We are incredibly proud of our growing team and are happy for our employees and their families who have become part of the STEP Africa family this year.
This year we were also able to welcome new partner projects that make such a valuable contribution to Tanzanian society.
The Joyhub is a day care facility for children with various physical and intellectual handicaps, who, above all, are allowed to play and learn a lot here. Joyhub is not only one of the very few facilities of its kind in Tanzania that offers children a safe refuge from their sometimes not very easy everyday life. The facility also tries to educate the Tanzanian society. Because unfortunately people with disabilities are still very much excluded from everyday life and stigmata and superstition prevail. The Joyhub was not only supported personally and conceptually by our volunteers. Through numerous donation campaigns, new play equipment, therapy equipment and even a car were purchased so that children living further away can now come to Joyhub on a regular basis.
The Furahia Mtoto Foundation is also one of our new partners. This preschool, which looks after children from needy families, has also seen considerable growth in just a few months. A new kitchen, a playground and a fence have been built and now there is even a new classroom under construction for the “baby class”, which was previously taught in a temporary enclosure!
Thanks to our volunteers, the new building for the Gily’s Foundation has developed from a floor plan with a few walls to a building that is a few steps away from completion and opening and which is not only going to be a preschool, but will also accommodate an afternoon program for school children and an advanced training program for women.
In January of this year, together with the association Giving Smiles e.V., we launched a sponsorship program that now supports almost 60 children in Gily’s and guarantees them education, care, school equipment, meals and health insurance.
Thanks to the efforts of our volunteers, the Twiga Vision Foundation was able to switch to a more child-friendly and varied concept.
The Cradle of Love was also incredibly popular, and this year our volunteers were additionally involved in the night and weekend shifts for the babies and, thanks to numerous fundraising campaigns, were able to ensure that salaries were paid more punctually and that the food was always bought in abundance.
Thanks to the efforts of two very special volunteers, a school class in a Maasai village a few kilometers from the city of Arusha, which until now had only been taught under a tree, will soon be able to learn in a real classroom. Getting to know the Ndoto School and many other projects and institutions outside the city of Arusha, in the surrounding Maasai land, heralded the start of a program for us this year that is particularly important to us:
The STEP Africa Outreach Program was a long-cherished dream of our team and, thanks to the effort of our social worker Irene, could now finally be put into practice. STEP Africa – Exchange for Change is not only our name, but also our motto. We want to bring about positive changes through exchanges and encounters with people from different cultures. In rural areas in Tanzania in particular, many people lack access to basic offers in the fields of education, medicine and more. Our outreach program currently takes place twice a week and is aimed at schools, women’s groups and village communities, especially in the rural north of Tanzania. Topics of the day covered so far included lectures and workshops in the field of women’s health, family planning, hygiene, fundamental and family law, FGM, corporate management for small businesses and much more. For the new year we would like to significantly expand the program: more days, more target groups and more topics such as environmental protection, sport and promoting self-esteem through self-defense courses, further medical advice and more.
The above are just a few small excerpts of what has been driven forward in our projects over the past 12 months!
We still do not know what the future holds as the pandemic is still the predominant topic in most parts of the world. For us 2021 has made up for much of what we experienced in 2020 in terms of frustration and uncertainty from our three-month closure. The year 2020 became a great loss for us through the efforts of keeping our hostel and our employees, which is why we are all the more grateful for the current year.
Corona is handled quite differently in Tanzania than in other parts of the world. Not everyone here can afford to worry about COVID-19 while so many other problems remain unsolved and diseases untreated due to lack of funds to pay for medical treatment. Nonetheless, the country is on the right track, also with the national vaccination campaign gaining momentum.
Whatever still lies ahead of us, we feel strengthened and self-confident that we will also master future highs and, above all, lows together.
We’re one big family and we always will be. And so the adventure continues!
With optimism and best regards for a wonderful Christmas season.
Kira and the entire STEP Africa team.