VOLUNTEERing with GRA

Thank you for your interest in volunteering with Global Resource Alliance. GRA does not have an official volunteer program, howeveEnergy Touch Healersr, we welcome you to volunteer for GRA or one of our partners in any capacity that furthers our mission and suits your individual interests and skills. We will do our best to support and help coordinate your efforts.

Our only requirements are that volunteers carry travel insurance for their protection in case of illness or injury and sign our Release Agreement.

 

We have specific volunteer opportunities we are looking to fill, but volunteer activities are in no way limited to those opportunities. You can volunteer from your home, our office in Ojai, CA or in the Mara Region of Tanzania.

Please read through our volunteer pages, beginning with the FAQ, and contact us if you have any further questions or would like to start planning your volunteerism.

 

Volunteer Testimonials

 

A part of my heart has been captured by the charm of Musoma and all of the amazing people we met. I shall never be the same, and I know that is perhaps the best outcome of committing oneself to a journey such as this one. ~Natalie Stewart

In general I feel like I've been learning a lot and I am definitely grateful to
you and Lyn for giving me the opportunity to come! I hope that I have
also been helpful to the various projects. ~Carley Knapp

 

In my experience (of traveling quite comprehensively in south and Eastern Africa) Musoma district is one the easiest and safest places I have visited or resided. But this is Africa, poverty is increasing in the urban centers and with this increasing pollution, crime and possible harassment. You have a lot of friends here already though the networks already established. That list is sure to grow by the time you depart. ~Darren Bell

Let me begin by thanking the organization for giving me the opportunity to work with them. During my stay in Musoma, I met incredible people, kind and generous. This extraordinary experience allowed me to learn a lot about the world and myself. Thank you to my friends of GRA and the wonderful people in the Musoma area. >
Ansate sana! ~Pierre-Luc Samson

 

Volunteer FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions...

No. However, we accept and welcome volunteers acting on an individual basis who want to help in any capacity to further GRA’s mission. The absence of an official volunteer program means that each individual volunteer is wholly responsibility for understanding, avoiding and accepting all risks involved, including the possibility of serious illness if volunteering in Tanzania.  Furthermore, it is ultimately the responsibility of the volunteer to make his or her own arrangements for travel, food, lodging and volunteer activities, as well as pay all costs incurred, unless other arrangements have been made ahead of time in writing.

That said, GRA volunteer coordinators do their best to provide detailed information and recommendations on health, travel, food and lodging.  We will also assist volunteers in coordinating and pursuing their volunteer activities, either for GRA directly or with one of our partner organizations.  GRA volunteer coordinators support volunteers as much as possible to make their volunteerism feasible, rewarding and enjoyable.

We have a list of specific Volunteer Opportunities, however, volunteers can participate in any of GRA’s program areas that interest them. Volunteer activities are very individualized based on the volunteer’s skills, knowledge, passions and interests. Volunteers can either participate in the field activities of GRA and our partners in Tanzania, or assist in expanding GRA’s organizational capacity at home with things like graphic design and fundraising.

At your home or from our offices in Ojai, CA or in the Musoma Region of Tanzania, Africa.

GRA staff travels to Tanzania a couple times each year for several months, and volunteers are always welcome to travel and volunteer with us. Please understand that if you are planning to volunteer in Tanzania, you are doing so on your own behalf and accept full responsibility for the risks involved.

We appreciate the time and commitment of all our volunteers, and especially the financial and logistical commitment of those who travel to Tanzania. We will do our best to support your volunteer activities as they relate to our mission, and make your experience the best it can be.

Lyn and Tara, two of GRA’s Board of Directors, usually travel to Musoma, Tanzania and surrounding areas twice a year- February/March and August/September/October.  Please contact us directly to find out specific dates.

There is no fee, however, volunteers are responsible for all expenses incurred while volunteering unless specifically approved for reimbursement by the GRA Board of Directors in writing.

Only in special circumstances for volunteers with very specific expertise critical to furthering our mission or fundraising activities.

Email or call us! Please review all the volunteer information pages as well as our programs and mission to get a better idea of how your volunteerism might benefit the people of Tanzania.

Global Resource Alliance operates in two areas of the Mara Region, the town of Musoma, and the remote village of Kinesi.

Travel Guide for Musoma, Tanzania

Lyn and Tara, two of GRA’s Board of Directors, usually travel to Musoma, Tanzania and surrounding areas twice a year- February/March and August/September/October. Please contact us directly to find out specific dates. If your travel dates coincide, volunteers are invited to travel, lodge, and volunteer alongside Lyn and Tara.

GRA is happy to help you coordinate travel arrangements; however, it is ultimately the responsibility of the volunteer to make and finalize his or her own travel, lodging and volunteer arrangements, as well as pay for all costs incurred and accept all risks associated with traveling in Tanzania.

 

Please Note...

TRAVEL INSURANCE

Please Note: All individuals volunteering with GRA or any of our partners are required to carry Travel Insurance and sign our Release Agreement.

 
Travel Tips

Musoma is a quiet, friendly town on the eastern shore of Lake Victoria with a population of about 100,000. It is the capital of the Mara Region and located on Mara Bay.  Musoma residents are relaxed, friendly and very curious, but respectful, about Westerners. You can expect to get a lot of attention and greetings in the streets.  Children get very excited to see white people, and you’ll hear them say “mzungu” to you, the word for white people.  There is a market for foods and small stores where you can find all kinds of basic necessities.

GRA’s Tanzanian offices are located on the edge of town on a beautiful compound that was formally the headquarters of the Swedish International Development Agency. The compound was generously donated by the regional government, and has become a center for diverse GRA activities.  Here we have a large Permaculture demonstration plot, hold workshops on solar cooking and have activities for families enrolled in our AIDS Orphan Support program. It is also the headquarters of GRA’s water development project, Maji Mengi.

Malaria and food poisoning are the two most common health risks.

Click here for detailed advice on preventing and treating malaria and food poisoning naturally.

There’s also the risk of parasitic infection, which, if not too serious, can be treated with a parasite cleanse when you return home. Typhoid fever, cholera, yellow fever, dysentery, tuberculosis and hepatitis are also serious risks, although unlikely as long as you take precautions like only drinking bottled water, wearing clothing and shoes that protect your body and only eating cooked or peeled food in safe restaurants or prepared by you.

There are several health dispensaries in town as well as a bigger regional hospital. Testing for malaria or any other health concerns is very inexpensive. A visit to the doctor is free or a couple of dollars, and medicines are also very cheap. The hospital is not as clean as we are used in the West but provides good care based on our experience.

The best advice we can give is to come healthy, take lots of good quality vitamins and supplements and eat healthy, drink lots of bottled water, stay away from mosquitoes and get plenty of sleep.

The climate in Tanzania is tropical. It’s hot all year round but still pleasant.  At an elevation of about 3,000 feet, the temperature in Musoma stays around 90 degrees (30 Fahrenheit) year round, and is a little humid, but not as much as Dar Es Salaam or other places by the ocean.

There are two rainy seasons, around October/November and March/April each year. The rainy season in the Fall is considered short and the one in the Spring long. When it rains, it is intense but doesn’t last long. The rain refreshes the atmosphere and usually the sun is back out quickly.

The easiest way to get to Musoma is by airplane. We normally travel to Dar Es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania via London or Amsterdam – the two most common European routes, although there are others.  British Air and KLM generally offer the best priced fares.  From the US, fares are generally under $1,800 round trip and from Europe, about half of that.

From Dar Es Salaam, we fly to Musoma for about $250/$300 round trip with PrecisionAir.  There are normally flights on Monday, Wednesday and Friday (it is good to double check because this is subject to change). If you are interested in this option, we can put you in contact with our Tanzanian travel agent that makes reservations for local flights.

It is also common to fly to Nairobi, capital of Kenya, and take a bus to Musoma for about $25. It is an overnight bus ride. If you choose this option, better not to travel alone, especially if you are a woman.

The first time you go, it might be easiest to take a taxi or a bike taxi. Take the taxi to Kotra Market – a gas station / minimart about 20 minutes by foot or 5 minutes by bicycle from downtown Musoma on the main road – Nyerere Rd. going towards Mwanza.

Across the street from Kotra is Musoma Dairy. Continue in the same direction (away from town) on the same side of the street as Musoma Dairy for about 75 meters until you reach a small dirt road. Turn right (away from Kotra Market) and go up the dirt road about 100 meters. The first gate you come to (on your left) is the GRA office.  There will be a guard on duty who will let you in. — PLEASE CONTACT US BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL.

You will need a visa to enter Tanzania. Our experience is that the fastest way to get one is at the airport after your arrival in Dar es Salaam. You will most likely purchase a Visitor/Tourist Visa for up to three months. If you have an American passport, the price will probably be $100, and if you have a European or other Western passports it will cost around $50.

It is possible to extend the visa for another 3 months without problems.  Some people like to get their visa ahead of time. In that case, you will need to communicate with the Tanzanian embassy.

It is required to have a Yellow Fever vaccine. This vaccine is good for 10 years.  Even though it is required, we have never been asked for any certifying paper over the course of a dozen trips. No other vaccines are required.

Lodging in Musoma is simple but not bad. You can find very basic hotels for just a couple of dollars a night with shared shower and bathrooms.  For $5-$6 a night, you can get a room with private shower and toilet. We like to stay at the Afrilux Hotel, one of the best hotels in town, but still simple by western standards.  Rooms are clean, have mosquito nets, and many have TV and air conditioning and cost about $15 (single occupancy) or $20 (double occupancy) per night.

For people that are planning to stay several months, it is also possible to rent a room, or even a house if there are several people traveling together.

Afrilux Hotel
$15-$20 per night, including a big breakfast
Private bath with hot water (most of the time)
Some rooms have TV and air conditioning
Good restaurant at hotel with meals for $2-$5

Anglican or Catholic Compounds
$5-$6  per night, includes breakfast
Toilets and showers (Probably cold, although, they will bring a bucket of hot water if asked for.)
Safe restaurant onsite with simple meals for about $2
The Anglican compound is about 10 minutes by foot from GRA office and about 10 minutes from downtown.
The Catholic compound is downtown, but about a 20 minute walk from the GRA offices.

You can find different vegetables, fruits, grains and beans in the market as well as in the restaurants.  Chicken, fish from Lake Victoria, beef and eggs can be found everywhere. The variety is not as much as we are used in the West, but there are still good options for vegetarians and non-vegetarians. You can find mangoes, papayas, coconuts, cashews, avocados and tomatoes among other fruits and vegetables in the market.

In our experience, it is quite easy to get food poisoning in Musoma. After several rounds of getting sick ourselves, we have limited the places where we eat to a couple of restaurants that seem to be safe:

Afrilux Hotel $2-$5 per meal
Anglican Church Restaurant $2 per meal
Catholic Dioceses Church Restaurant $2 per meal
Mara Dishes $3 per meal
GRA Office where our cook prepares meals at lunch time. Free for any of our volunteers

We recommend buying bottled water. We prefer Kilimanjaro brand, but there are others.

There are several internet cafes in town, and we have internet access at our office.  There are also places in town to make international phone calls. We haven’t been successful using Skype in Musoma, so far, but maybe one day.

Our experience is that the cheapest way to talk to the US and Europe is by purchasing a four band cell phone in the West that is unblocked and has a removable SIM card, which can be purchased in Tanzania for a couple of dollars in Tanzania. Local phone calls are relatively inexpensive, and international phone calls cost about fifty cents a minute.

The best place to use bathrooms is in your hotel room, or at the GRA office.  If in need to find other toilets in town, they can be found in restaurants or at the internet café. Expect latrines in most places.

  • Comfortable clothes, short sleeves or no sleeves for the day, but long sleeves for the night to prevent malaria mosquito bites. Bring layers.
  • We recommend wearing long pants or long skirts. Tanzanians do not typically show their legs in public, so it is better not to wear shorts out of respect.
  • Hat for protection from the tropical sun.
  • Shoes that cover your feet but have good ventilation.
  • Health supplements (see our article on How to Prevent and Treat tropical diseases) like artemisia, neem, multi vitamin…
  • Enough toiletries to last your entire trip.
  • Flash light or headlamp.
  • Passport and other travel documents.
  • Protein bars and other easy to carry, nonperishable snacks to eat when food conditions are uncertain.  Bring enough for 1 per day if you have room in your luggage .
  • The usual things you will be carrying for a long distance trip.
  • No need to bring a water filter as long as you only drink bottle water.

 

GRA's Musoma Office

 

GRA MUSOMA HEADQUARTERS


Office Phone Number 028 262 2787

Office Manager, Paschal Odienge
Phone Number +255 787 752 716

PLEASE CONTACT US BEFORE YOUR ARRIVAL.

 

Volunteer Opportunities

Here is a list of General and Specific volunteer opportunities. Volunteers are welcome to support any of GRA’s programs in whatever capacity they feel is relevant to their own passions, interests and skills. We support volunteers to make their own choices about how, when and where they will volunteer once they have been introduced to the different programs in Musoma and the surrounding villages.

 

General Volunteer Activities

Help with Permaculture and organic agriculture plots and classes

Work with orphans (4-7 years old) at the Nursery school or at our office on Saturday morning when orphans (7-16 years old) come to collect their supplies and participate in activities like theater, singing and sports

Do creative projects with primary and secondary students at schools or at our office

Collaborate on or just attend some of the projects that are already happening like solar cooking classes, Permaculture classes, microfinance etc.

Accompany Lyn or Tara during visits and interviews with our partners at different project sites

Help at the office with computer stuff, administration, grant writing and other fundraising

 

Specific Volunteer Opportunities

Ferrocement Expert

We need a volunteer skilled in ferrocement construction. Experience in building roofs and water tanks with ferrocement is a big plus.

Alternative Energy Specialist

GRA would like to expand its use of alternative energy in the areas of wind and solar in the Mara Region of Tanzania. We would like to implement alternative energy in our Permaculture community project, which is currently in the planning stage of development.

Stabalized Earth Construction Specialist

GRA acquired a compressed earth block press from Auroville, India in 2008, and needs someone experienced in stabilized earth construction. Our goal is to build 5-10 earth block homes for a permaculture community by the end of 2012.

Grant Writing Consultant

We need an experienced grant writing consultant to review and provide critique of our grant applications.

 

Volunteer Resources

Volunteer Documents

Volunteer Release Agreement

Download
 

by Tara Blasco, Ph.D.

Natural Ways to Prevent and Treat
Common Tropical Diseases

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