The name “Tanzania” was created by combining “Tanganyika” and “Zanzibar,” the names of the two states that unified to create the country, and means “sail in the wilderness” in Swahili. A country of beautiful contrasts and home to more than 120 ethnic groups, Tanzania is one of the most diverse countries in Africa. From the highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro, to the largest lake, Lake Victoria, Tanzania is the crowning jewel of the African continent.
Yet, in such a wild and beautiful place, there are many in great need. The healthcare system of Tanzania is unable to serve most of the population, leaving many without access to health services. ISL Tanzania partners with local communities and non-profit organizations to reach out to those lost in a fragmented healthcare system.
In a country known for its diversity, there is still room for an additional demographic: volunteers who are willing to travel across the world, learn from a culture rich in art, music, and agriculture, and assist in providing health services to those in rural communities with little or no access to it.
A Brief Overview of Tanzania
Tanzania is located in East Africa within the African Great Lakes region, known for the vast plains of the Serengeti. The side of Tanzania that often remains unseen is the prevalence of poverty and the lack of proper healthcare that has left the country 159th out of 187th in the Global Poverty Index, identifying Tanzania as one of the poorest countries on earth. In fact, 68% of those in Tanzania fall below the global poverty line, which equates to living on less than $1.25 USD a day.
To further the problem there is an imbalance in the age of the population. Forty-four percent of Tanzanians are under the age of 15, with vast numbers of children living in orphanages. These social factors, in conjunction with a broken healthcare system, are the reasons the work of ISL in Tanzania is so important.
ISL’s Milestones in Tanzania
2013: ISL Tanzania began receiving volunteers and partnering with Kibosho Hospital in order to do further outreach.
2013: ISL Tanzania began a conservation project involving the planting of over 150 trees in order to restore dry and unproductive land.
2016-2023: ISl Tanzania continues to host volunteers from all over the world.
Where We Serve in Tanzania
ISL Tanzania’s service learning volunteers primarily serve the interior of northern Tanzania. The urban and rural communities we serve are in close proximity to the ISL Tanzania Base Camp in the city of Moshi.
Rural Communities Served by ISL
In northern rural Tanzania, the communities are defined by their ability to grow crops. Many of the houses in these areas are made of mud in poor repair, increasing exposure to the elements and promoting an unsanitary environment and a high rate of infectious diseases. Limited transportation between communities creates an extra challenge for rural Tanzanians to obtain adequate healthcare.
Urban Communities Served by ISL
Tanzania faces many of the same urban socio-economic factors that plague other urbanized areas in the world. Like most crowded cities, the urbanized areas of northern Tanzania can be a threshing floor for infectious disease and exposure to substance abuse.
The Need in Tanzania
Tanzania has a social security fund that covers public and private sector employees and self-employed workers who contribute directly to the economy. The number of workers who directly contribute to the system is very low in proportion to the population, and most who contribute to the economy live in larger cities. Those who are unemployed have no access to healthcare.
Our Partnerships in Tanzania
As with any great work, it takes great relationships to get the job done. That’s why ISL Tanzania has partnered with nonprofits, hospitals, governmental and religious groups, and institutions to better serve the underprivileged of Tanzania.
Schools and Universities
Stella Maris School
Obrien school for Masai
Kibosho Hospital Nursing School
Roman Catholic Church
What to Expect as a Volunteer
You’ll arrive for service in Tanzania at the Kilimanjaro International Airport (JRO). After going through Immigration and picking up your luggage, you’ll be met by an ISL staff member and transported by shuttle, van, or bus (arranged and paid for by ISL) to the Stella Maris Lodge, about 45 minutes away. The Stella Maris Lodge is a nonprofit hotel and school that will serve as your ISL Tanzania base camp during your time of service. Daily travel time from the Stella Maris Lodge to volunteer work sites varies from 45 minutes to an hour. Travel time to your recreation day destination can vary greatly because of the size of Tanzania and the wide range of activities available.
With ISL Tanzania, you’ll get many opportunities to experience the culture of those you serve as volunteers. Here are some of the many possibilities:
Learn how to make one of the many famous and delicious Tanzanian dishes.
Batik is an indigenous style of painting using dyes and waxes. You’ll have an opportunity to learn how it’s done.
Take a walk through the city of Moshi, explore the markets and absorb true Tanzanian culture.
Visit the Stella Maris School
The Stella Maris School is completely funded by the Stella Maris Lodge where you will be staying and seeks to educate vulnerable children in Tanzania. It is located on the same grounds as the Stella Maris Lodge and is what makes ISL Tanzania Base Camp so special.
After long days of service, you will be ready to relax. Here are some of our recreation day options.
Ngorongoro Conservation Area
Take advantage of the incredible opportunity to visit a UNESCO World Heritage Site in the Crater Highlands area of Tanzania. Named after the Ngorongoro Crater, it’s a great place to see the wild beasts that roam the Serengeti today. National Park prices and regulations apply. Stay overnight at Karatu town and begin your day in the park early. Plan on being back at the ISL Tanzania base camp that same evening.
Tarangire National Park
Teeming with migratory wildlife during the dry season (June-October), the Tarangire National Park is known for its spectacular transit of thousands of elephants and other herd animals drawn to the Tarangire River. Expect to see wild Tanzania up close, with opportunities to see lions, zebras, ostriches, leopards, and gazelles. Located three hours from the ISL Tanzania base camp, you’ll have a full day of driving and safari. Just remember to bring insect repellant!
National Park prices and regulations apply.
Coffee Tours and Waterfall
Hike to a 450-foot waterfall flowing from the waters of Mount Kilimanjaro. This great photo opportunity and pleasant hike is accessible for all fitness levels. The trail head is only a 45 minute drive from ISL Tanzania Base Camp. In addition to the hike, you’ll also have the opportunity to learn about Tanzanian coffee from seed to cup after you stop at one of the many coffee plantations on your drive to the waterfall.
$45 to $55, depending on the number of people. Lunch included.
Kikuletwa Hot Springs
Walk from the dry desert to a vibrant green oasis in just a few steps. Kikuletwa Hot Springs is a hidden gem few know about. Although it’s technically a natural hot spring, the clean blue waters are actually the perfect temperature for escaping from the Tanzanian heat.
Lunch box and water included.
Whether lodging in a hacienda on the beach of the Sea of Cortez in Puerto Penasco, Mexico; a walled convent in the heart of Alajuela, Costa Rica; or an apartment situated above the bustling metropolis of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, ISL’s volunteer lodgings are unique and carefully chosen based on very important criteria.
Accommodations are safe, clean, and within a reasonable driving distance to service sites and recreational opportunities. Volunteers are provided their own bed and easy access to restrooms, showers and meeting spaces for training and fellowship.
Many ISL accommodations are unique and may include retreat houses, guest houses or home stays, all of which provide a distinctive cultural experience. Prior to departure, ISL Country Coordinators will upload a description of your specific lodging in the Final Trip Document, which can be found in the document tab of your My ISL Portal.
Lodging in Tanzania
Stella Maris Lodge is a nonprofit hotel that opened in 2012 to support the neighboring Stella Maris school for orphaned and vulnerable children of the Mailisita village area in Tanzania. All the proceeds from your stay go exclusively to provide food and teachers for this school.
ISL Tanzania Base Camp (Stella Maris Lodge, Moshi)
3041 Mailisita Moshi, Tanzania
Facebook: Stella Maris Lodge
Tell:+0686 66 32 44
We love our staff and we are positive that you will too! Each staff member is professional, courteous, and has the same passion as you do: to serve others.