26 Feb Robin’s unforgettable experience as a Volunteer Facilitation & Training Assistance with EQWIP HUBs

Want to know what it’s like to volunteer abroad with EQWIP HUBs? Robin, a Canadian volunteer who recently returned from her time at EQWIP HUBs Mwanza, Tanzania, gave us an inside look at her unforgettable experience as a Volunteer Facilitation & Training Assistant.

Robin was a recent graduate of St. Lawrence College with a diploma in Social Service Work, taking time off before resuming her schooling at Ottawa U, when she discovered the international volunteer opportunities offered by EQWIP HUBs. An active volunteer in high school, having been awarded the Lieutenant Governor’s Community Volunteer Award for her hard work volunteering with local non-profits and charities, Robin knew the importance of choosing a volunteer organization that fit her values.

“The focus of the EQWIP HUBs project is to involve Canadian Youth in supporting local youth in developing countries to create cross-cultural innovation, gender-responsive programming and peer-to-peer learning. The opportunity interested me, and I eagerly applied.”

After applying online, Robin went through several interviews with the recruitment team to find the right volunteer position for her experience level and was offered the role of Volunteer Facilitation & Training Assistant at our EQWIP HUBs Tanzania location.  “Within the following months, I completed many online training modules and was in communication with both Canadian and Tanzanian staff to prepare myself for my upcoming adventure.”

In January 2017, Robin boarded a plane to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. “The journey started with an orientation and training session at the country office located in Dar es Salaam. There I was introduced to some fellow volunteers and the EQWIP HUBs country staff. Training was completed on the organization, the roles and the new culture in which we were being immersed in. I then made the move to my new home in Mwanza, a “large” city on the shores of Lake Victoria.”

“I was quickly thrown into life in Mwanza, developing a wonderful support system of expats and locals alike. I learned how to take the dala dala (public transport) to work everyday, I got accustomed to bargaining at the sokoni (market), to running off Tanzanian time (don’t be in a hurry, nobody else is – hakuna matata) and doing things a little differently (being prepared for handshakes to last the entire conversation). I instantly connected with the youth participants at EQWIP HUBs Mwanza, as they were eager to learn about Canadian culture and practice their English. I took full advantage of these connections to learn some Kiswahili along the way.”

In her role as a Volunteer Facilitation & Training Assistant, Robin worked closely with the local youth participants enrolled in the EQWIP HUBs Employment and Entrepreneurship training courses. She also assisted in the running of the multiple extra-curricular clubs; Girls/Boys Club, Environmental Club, English club, and Entrepreneurship Club. Robin was particularly enthusiastic about working with the women in the Girls Club which aimed at providing the local women with the tools to access their confidence and become strong active members in their community.  “We did this through team building, self-defence activities, international women’s day presentations and self-esteem activities. We also worked with the women in focus groups to discuss the barriers to employment facing women in the community.”

“My experience not only taught me about my students and the culture, but also the nature of development work. I learned about the immense flexibility needed in development work and the importance of collaborating with locals to create a successful and sustainable organization.”

Having had her time cut short due to an unexpected illness, Robin was able to return to Tanzania 3 months later to tie-up loose ends and visit with the incredible friends she had made while volunteering. She was even able to end her unforgettable journey by climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro!

“I had an incredible experience, and it has only filled me with more motivation to continue my work towards equality. I took more away from the country and the people than I could have ever imagined. I am still in contact with many of the connections I made there, and I am positive I will be returning to East Africa again!”

Volunteering overseas is a truly unique and transformative experience. That’s why EQWIP HUBs offers Canadians life changing international volunteer opportunities in Bolivia, Ghana, Indonesia, Peru, Senegal and Tanzania. Working in partnership with a global network, you will collaborate with local youth seeking new, job-ready skills and acquire some of your own in the process. With departures throughout the year in January, March, May, July, September and November, you can find the right position for you based on your skills and availability.

A world of experience is available. Are you?

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EQWIP HUBs is funded, in part, by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada.