project review

Geography with a Twist

Review submitted by Chris Parmenter
Review date 22 Mar 2010


I was often asked, why would you want to go to a country with nine other strangers, and stay in basic living conditions that would consist of a bucket shower (cold water only) and a hole in the ground for a toilet, whilst trying not to catch Malaria despite all of the precautions and living without having any form of communication with home from a mobile or internet? I didn’t really know the answer until I met the people and children of Mafia Island...

The people there are so friendly and welcoming that you instantly feel part of a family. Not a day had gone past, before we had been shown the area and the family home of a student whom we would become good friends with. They enjoy welcoming visitors so much that you are always treated to some fresh home grown coconut or fruit, feeling bad if they have no more to offer.

The teaching part of the project of course took up most of our time, planning lessons and thinking of creative ways of getting good interaction with the children, and actually teaching the lessons. The lessons themselves were at times challenging but always rewarding. Due to the language barrier, you have to remember to explain things clearer and simpler than you would perhaps normally do. Teaching Geography however, made it much easier for me to get the class motivated and learn the subject material as we could throw around an inflatable globe and play a world map version of Twister! They loved it, although at first they were a bit confused as to what we were actually doing! Coming away from a lesson without being covered in chalk dust and a big smile on your face was a big challenge!

Of course, there was time to lounge around on the beach, top up the tan and explore the rest of the island on bikes (it’s not as easy at it sounds to ride bikes with little or no suspension through deep sand and over rocky roads!) We made friends with the local Massai warriors, drank Konyagi all night long in the local bars, and watched many a great sunset over the Indian Ocean.

The whole project and experience was well worth it and a definite must for anyone wanting to make a difference to children’s lives and who want to discover a whole world that is completely different to anything that we are used to here. As long as you are prepared to go along with Mafia time and learn to relax, then this is the place for you.


Read more about the Tanzania Teaching and Beaches project.