Volunteers Safety in Tanzania
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Safety and Security
Serving as a Volunteer overseas entails certain safety and security risks. Living and traveling in an unfamiliar environment, a limited understanding of the local language and culture, and the perception of being a wealthy American/European can put a Volunteer at risk. Property theft and burglaries are not uncommon. Incidents of physical and sexual assault do occur, although most Volunteers complete their time of service without a serious safety and security incident. Together, VHSO and Volunteers can reduce risk, but cannot truly eliminate all risk.
Support from Staff
VHSO’ approach to safety is a five-pronged plan to help you stay safe during your service. The plan includes information sharing, Volunteer training, site selection criteria, a detailed emergency action plan, and protocols for responding safety and security incidents.
Our first priority after an incident is to make sure the Volunteer is safe and receiving any necessary medical treatment. The faster an incident is reported, the faster we can provide support, including security, medical, emotional, and legal. VHSO staff will also support Volunteers who choose to make a formal complaint with local law enforcement. It’s important for Volunteers to report incidents as soon as possible after they occur so that VHSO can assess and determine if there is a lingering or ongoing safety and security concern for either Volunteer victim or their peer Volunteers, and take the necessary precautions to preserve the right to file a complaint if they choose to do so.
Staying Safe: Don’t Be a Target for Crime
As a Volunteer, you must be prepared to assume a large degree of responsibility for your own safety. To reduce the likelihood that you will become a victim of crime, you can take steps to make yourself less of a target such as integrating into your community, learning the local language, acting responsibly, and abiding by VHSO policies and procedures. In many ways, you can do what you would do if you moved to a new city anywhere: Be cautious, check things out, ask questions, learn about your neighborhood, know where the more risky locations are, use common sense, and be aware.
Factors that Contribute to Risk
Numerous factors can heighten a Volunteer’s risk, many of which are within a Volunteer’s control. By far the most common crime that Volunteers experience is theft of property, which is more likely to happen when Volunteers are away from their sites, in crowded locations (such as markets or on public transportation), and when leaving items unattended. Crime at the village or town level is less frequent than in the large cities; people in smaller villages/towns know each other and are more likely to look out for their neighbors. Tourist attractions in large towns are favorite worksites for pickpockets.
Before you depart for service, you can take measures to reduce risk:
- #1. Leave valuable objects back home, particularly those that are irreplaceable or have sentimental value
- #2. Leave copies of important documents and account numbers with someone you trust back home.
- #3. Purchase a hidden money pouch or “dummy” wallet as a decoy
- #4. Purchase personal articles insurance
#5. After you arrive in-country, you will receive detailed information about common crimes.
Safety Issues In-Country
The following are other security concerns in Tanzania of which you should be aware:
- #1. In Dar es Salaam and Arusha, Tanzania’s two largest cities, there are certain areas where robberies and muggings are more frequent. These will be pointed out to you, and you will be advised either to avoid walking in these areas or to walk there only in a group.
- #2. Modes of public transport, including buses and boats, are often in poor condition and overcrowded, and they generally travel at unsafe speeds. In addition, many roads are in disrepair. When taking public transport, it is important to use common sense, avoid traveling at night, and be careful with your valuables.
- #3. While whistles and verbal harassment based on race or gender may be fairly common on the street, this behavior may be reduced if you abide by local cultural norms, dress conservatively, and respond according to the training you will receive.
Volunteer in Tanzania with VHSO:
If you’ve always dreamt of volunteering in Africa, why not start in Tanzania? Home to Mount Kilimanjaro, endless national parks, and amazing wildlife. Volunteer in Tanzania and take this chance to discover its national treasures. Help Tanzania by dedicating some of your time to volunteering at one of the programs. Volunteer and travel to Tanzania and change someone else’s life too.