In June 2011, Bintu Foday set out on a 3,000 mile journey from her home in London to volunteer with Skillshare International in Tanzania. It was here that she worked with a small organisation called Ujamaa Community Resource Trust that aims to empower Maasai women economically through a village community bank (VICOBA) and other activities. Ujamaa also provides school materials for orphans and disadvantaged children and runs youth training in skills such as brick making.
Initially, the placements at Ujamaa focused on giving the volunteers a good understanding of the challenges faced by the local community, and in particular by women running small businesses to support their families.
Bintu reflects: “I have learnt a lot from my experience, due to the amount of interaction we had in our community. In my first five weeks we visited lots of women groups in most of the villages we worked in and even camped at one village (Terrat) for four days, visited educational offices where I learnt about the education system in Tanzania and other governmental sectors. All this helped me a lot in capturing a true picture of the Tanzanian way of life.”
Bintu, who is a student at Norwich Business School, helped Ujamaa to run training sessions for women entrepreneurs in book-keeping, marketing and business management.
“Speaking to some of the VICOBA women, they seemed very pleased with the training and agreed that it has definitely helped them increase sales and deliver excellent customer service - and this has brought them more customers in return.“
“I have really enjoyed working with the community, although it wasn’t easy. My Tanzanian journey will always be a learning point for me and I will surely use what I have seen and learnt in the future. I am very proud to have been part of such a challenging and fantastic experience.”
Bintu volunteered with Skillshare International as part of the International Citizen Service (ICS) initiative, funded by the Department for International Development. ICS gives volunteers aged 18-22 the opportunity to spend three life-changing months working on projects designed to bring about lasting change.
Interested in volunteering? Find out more and apply online.