Volunteer Opportunities

Come and volunteer with us at the Roof of Africa!  We welcome volunteers all year round, and whatever your skills, there is an opportunity for you to help out. As a small organisation, you can be assured that your time volunteering with us will be highly valued, and make a real difference in the lives of the children. We are a responsible organisation, who put the needs of the children first, and you can be confident that you are not just a wheel in the big 'volu-tourism' industry.  All volunteers will be police checked before placements approved. We do not charge any fees, but welcome any contribution which will go directly to the school.

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qualified volunteers

We especially encourage qualified teachers, or those who have a professional qualification in a relevant field (e.g. in Play Therapy, Child Psychology,  etc.) to come to the school to run teacher training workshops, as well as working with the children.

the accommodation

Accommodation is provided in Sonu. The accommodation will be basic, but as a minimum we will ensure that you have a lockable room with a bed and access to a toilet and shower. You may be sharing the house with other volunteers, or staying alone. A security guard will be on duty during the night.

The Food

While volunteering in Sonu, you will eat the local diet, of rice, beans, greens and ugali (a stiff porridge). Fresh fruit - bananas, avocados, oranges, will be available depending on the season. Meat (goat, chicken, beef) may be available. Breakfast and lunch will be provided for free at the school during the week. The food is simple but deliciously cooked. When in Moshi, or Boma Ngombe, there is a great variety of  food available, from traditional Tanzanian street food to pizza, pasta and Indian curries. Sodas (Coca-Cola, Fanta), water, tea and coffee are widely available. 

My experience doing voluntary teaching at Sonu.

I visited Sonu for 6 weeks in summer of 2016. When I arrived at the airport Mama George (one of the teachers) picked me up from the airport and took me to the school to meet the kids. At this point the school was only 1 month old and only 8 children were registered, but in the following weeks that number tripled. The children were very sweet and sang me a welcome song, then I sat and had tea with the staff and got to know everyone. I was tired from my journey so went to the house I was staying in a little ways up the hill. The staff from the school were very helpful making sure I had enough bedding and buying me food so that I could make something to eat. They even helped me sort out a sim card with some data so that I could contact my family and let them know I had arrived safely. We also arranged a timetable of activities so that I wouldn’t be left with nothing to do in evenings and on weekends. The activities included things like nature walks, trips to different waterfalls and other beauty spots, netball with the kids in the village, and dinner at different peoples houses.

The next day was a Saturday meaning no school. I had mentioned that I wanted to go into moshi to visit some friends and in the morning the headmasters wife and daughter came by and offered to escort me into moshi so that I’d know the correct bus route in future. In moshi there’s a lot to do and see and it is only a 45 minute bus journey away. That evening I met the young couple living in the same compound as me. They were very helpful and kind to me throughout my stay, inviting me for dinner every evening and helping me wash my clothes. Every weekday morning I would meet Mama George and the kids along the road to school. Because of the altitude, sonu isn’t as warm as Moshi or Saldala. This has pros and cons- it means that water is plentiful and cheap, the mornings and evenings are cool and comfortable, and there are no mosquitos. It also means that the road gets very muddy after a night of rainfall on the mountain. This walk to school was only half a mile long, but we would have to stop every 5 seconds to scrape off the mud that had caked the kids shoes and cars simply couldn’t pass some roads. While I was there a tarmac road was being built through sonu, so maybe next time I visit there will be another one, making the walk to school much easier.

At school each day had the same timetable. In the morning we would start with an hour of Maths. Because all of the children had started school at different times, some could do simple addition and subtraction and knew numbers up to 20 in both English and Swahili, and others found it hard to grasp the concept of having 1, 2 or 3 of something. Often the class was split into two groups with the kids who had been there from the beginning doing complicated work copying from the blackboard into their books, and the new ones facing the back with Hillary the second teacher helping them write down numbers from 1 to 5 on little blackboards. I’d go round and see which children needed a little extra help in understanding a concept and work with them until they got it. After maths we would have a short break where the children would play games and sing songs to warm up. After this was an English lesson. Often I would lead the English lesson and all of the children were at about the same level so we could all work together. I would teach them English songs and point at different objects around the room. I also used the curriculum exercise book to incorporate some simple science such as self-care routines into the English lessons. After English came another break where the children would all receive a cup of porridge and some fruit. For some of the children this would be their only meal of the day. The staff would then take a break in the office and drink tea and coffee and eat
fruit, eggs and mandazi.

We’d then play with the children a bit more before going inside for our final lesson of the day- Swahili. This lesson was structured in the same way as maths, with the more capable students copying from the board with Mama George, and the newer ones at the back with Hillary and I, learning to write letters on little blackboards. Every day school finished at 12.30, but I was rarely left to my own devices.

The staff took such good care of me, asking if I needed to visit the market or if I’d like company and every day I had so much to do and see. I even took a 2 hour trip to Sanya Juu to visit with the cooks mother, sister in law and little niece where we had a meal together then went for a long walk through a natural forest and he pointed out all of the different birds and monkeys and told me about all of the different plants and how they’re used. It was a brilliant 6 weeks and I can’t wait to return this summer and see everybody again.
— Holly Reichel, Volunteer