Volunteering in Tanzania?
May 18, 2012 11:35 AM   Subscribe

Volunteering in Tanzania?

Heading to Tanzania in late fall/winter of this year. Was hoping to find an organization to volunteer with for a month or so. I'm a lawyer and am particularly interested in opportunities with a legal component but it's not a requirement. I'm definitely more inclined to do something that applies my skills than hard labour.

I've looked at the Legal and Human Rights Centre's website and there are no openings. I've also looked at some paid volun-tourism sites. I don't mind paying for a volunteer opportunity but most of them seem to be geared toward kids who want to volunteer for 2 weeks to help them get into med school. I've also googled a few and some people have had really bad experiences with these paid ventures.

So my question is, has anyone done any volunteer work in Tanzania (legal or non-legal related work)? If so, what organization did you go with and how was your experience? Any other advice or bits of info would be greatly appreciated.

I understand some hold the view that it is better to find the opportunities once you have landed, but that isn't really practical as I need to be able to plan this out. Real life practicalities prohibits me from just wing it when I get there. Thanks!
posted by grak88 to Travel & Transportation around Tanzania (6 answers total)
Just so you know, volunteering for small chunks of time like this are, 99% of the time, unless you're already well versed in the culture and cultural impacts on the legal system, is destined to be a giant waste of resources for the very organizations you'd be trying to help. (That's why you frequently have to pay for these opportunities - because there's no benefit to the organization other than the money you pay.)

Just keep that in mind when you're looking for volunteering opportunities - that this is something that will make you feel good but is unlikely to help anyone.

Which is why you can't find what you're looking for.
posted by Kololo at 12:14 PM on May 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

I don't know much about what they might do in Tanzania, but I met a few guys working through Lawyers Without Borders in Rwanda doing work with their truth and reconciliation stuff post-genocide. It looks like LWB does a lot of training work and capacity building type stuff that you might be able to participate in as well.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:40 PM on May 18, 2012

Lawyers Without Borders? Their lawyer intake form for potential volunteers includes an option for "self-funded pro bono service abroad short term (2-4 weeks)" if you are "interested in an ongoing or planned project at LWOB," and the projects page identifies Tanzania as a country where projects are either "ongoing or in development."

(NB: I have no experience with them, and I'm not a lawyer, I just know that "[Profession] Without Borders" is often a good bet for this sort of thing.)
posted by solotoro at 12:41 PM on May 18, 2012

Blast, should have previewed. My opening question was meant to indicate it as a possible suggestion, not some passive aggressive attack on ChuraChura's idea.
posted by solotoro at 12:43 PM on May 18, 2012

Response by poster: Hahaha..thanks. Fine print noted.
posted by grak88 at 12:49 PM on May 18, 2012

I wish I could favorite Kololo's comment many times. I run a volunteer opportunity with a nonprofit in east Africa and this is very true in most cases, although perhaps it's different in Lawyers Without Borders, I can't be sure because I am not familiar with their work.

On the positive side I think the volunteers do gain a lot from the experience when they volunteer in such settings, usually much more than they give. It can be the catalyst for a career change or for some significant fundraising or support after the trip, and that is very helpful. And I thank the lord that people do want to have these volunteer experiences, because the income from our volunteer program is what keeps my organization afloat.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:39 PM on May 18, 2012

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