Arusha Project

Summer 2009
July 6, 2009, 8:35 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Hello Friends and Family of Arusha Project Volunteers!

My name is Jessi Ristau, I am the Arusha Project Volunteer Coordinator
for this summer.  I will update the blog at least once a week with stories
and information about our experience.  The current volunteers are welcome
to participate in writing the entries as well.  Its taken me a while to put up this first week’s entry, so here it is at the beginning of our 3rd week! I’ve enclosed some background information about the project and the volunteer’s
schedule of activities.

We are staying in the Arusha Project Center, a house we rent in a
neighborhood on the outskirts of Arusha proper. The house has 3 rooms, with
bunk beds for the volunteers, a few bathrooms (complete with porcelain
thrones:), and showers (although the power goes off frequently so cold
showers are frequent). We have our “green room”, the living room with green
couches that gives the room a green glow, with a projector for presentations
and movies, and a chalk board for Swahili classes for the volunteers. There’s a dinning room
area in the kitchen, and a pantry area with a refrigerator. Nick (Director),
Stephanie (Project coordinator) and I sleep in the “annex” which is
disconnected from the main house in close proximity.  Outside we have a lot
of fruit trees, a chicken coop with lots of chickens, a fire stone for
fires, and a cat. We are surrounded by other gated houses (all houses
and some apartment complexes are gated, other apartment complexes and
houses are not in rural areas).

Our general weekday schedule goes as follows:

7:30 am – Breakfast (mangos, avacados, peanut butter and toast, oogi
(cornmeal), chai/instant coffee, eggs, bananas, watermelon, and other

8:00 am – Leave for placement in the Arusha Project dala dala or
public dala dala (local buses), Stephanie, Chahe (Country Coordinator)
drive the volunteers to their placement, introduce them to their org
directors pick them up at around 12:30pm.

1:00 am – Lunch at the house

2- 6:00 pm – Varies from day to day, for example;

-Cultural excursions to other CBOs (community based organizations)
such as BOSI, a
support organization for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), and
includes an orphanage,
choir, support group, home based care (HBC).  BOSI is founded by Anna
Yoeza, an incredible woman who is HIV positive herself.
-Discussions about reading material regarding international
volunteering, visits to CBO’s, and HIV/AIDS.
-Free time for the volunteers to use the internet to contact home,
work on things back home, check out town and prepare for the next day.
-Swahili lessons 3 times a week for the first week, 2 times the second
week (we work on a three week reoccurring schedule, as each
program is in a 3 week blogs at which time we get new volunteers, some of
the old leave and some stay).
-We will also be doing site visits for our grant program, and have
information sessions about our micro finance program as well.

6:00 pm – Dinner

7:00 pm and on – Down time, can include group outings to local hang
out spots, or cultural programs.

Weekends are always different, this weekend we had our grant program
orientation, where the volunteers learned about the program, and will
prepare them to conduct site visits and their presentation of the
organization to the grant review board (all tanzanian). The grant program is
new this year and the process has begun before the volunteers arrived.

The participants have been trained through a weekend seminar held by
the Arusha Project and have submitted their proposals.  The proposals
were then separated by topic and distributed over the next 12 weeks (4
programs of 3 weeks each). The volunteers are assigned to a proposal
in pairs, and will be conducting 3 site visits to verify, clarify and
ask questions about the proposal.  The purpose is for the organization
to show how they have started  preparing for their grant project
according to their proposal to see if they
should get the funding. This summer we will fund about 4 project
proposals, each $5,000 USD.

Our first project funded this last year was for a solar panel project
for Yullensoni Health clinic, and we hope to fund projects relating to
microcredit, peer education and other empowerment programs that are
related to gender and HIV/AIDS. The volunteers will present the
information collected from the site visits to the Board of Trustees,
all of whom are Tanzanian and community leaders in Arusha.

In addition to the grants, we also have a microcredit program.  Whole
organizations apply for grants, teams of  5 people (mostly women  and
members of our partner organizations) can apply for the Microcredit
program. These loans are smaller, and are conducted by our grant
officers (community leaders) and Nick (director). In the past we have
funded a chicken project for a local CBO that provided schooling and
social networks for the HIV positive community in our neighborhood.

Next weekend we will go on a short day safari, and the next day to
Moshi, Tanzania and the last weekend will be the volunteer’s proposal
presentations and announcement of loan recipients.


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