Boi is a 26 year old native Tanzanian, my former GIVE Volunteer Guide, my friend
I ask my friend Boi, a local GIVE leader, what he wants the world to know about Tanzania. He pauses and then states “My culture, everything about us”. Boi explains to me that many people are struggling with a lack of jobs and insufficient education. He wants the world to listen and see, so people know how to help.
GIVE is a travel Volunteer Organization that promotes ethical travel through locally run projects. Native English speakers travel to a small village in Zanzibar to teach English, give a helping hand to the construction of their school, support local businesses, and learn about the community’s culture.
For locals, working with GIVE is not only an opportunity to gain a job and learn English, but to hold a voice for the local community. Boi grew up in Dar es Salam with his two parents, but started facing hardships when the money could not support his younger brother. He recites a painful memory of failing out of school due to his inadequate english; in Tanzania, schools are taught in Swahili throughout elementary school, and then English starting in secondary school.
Due to continuing hardship, Boi moved to Zanzibar with his Uncle in search of a job and more education. Here he started working at a restaurant cleaning dishes to send money back home. One day, Boi was crying at work because he did not have money to help his mother who was sick. The chef/owner of the restaurant promoted him to a chef and gave him half of his salary. This beautiful gesture of kindness would inspire Boi to work hard and help others in need.
When Boi found out about GIVE, he started working hard to improve his English. He continued to fight his fear of failure, while working as an unpaid intern for 2 years. The day he finally got paid from GIVE, Boi was so happy he cried. After all his hard work, he was able to send money home to his family, a dream come true.
Boi’s dream and life goal is to build his parents their own house. After that, he aspires to open his own restaurant so he can give people jobs who need help. This full circle moment of when he was helped at his old restaurant job, inspired this dream. Both of these dreams revolve around helping others. This is Zanzibar, this is Tanzania. A community of fun loving people who treat every neighbor like family. People who love to dance any chance they get, people who love to say hello with a smile. To Boi, happiness is freedom and having good people around you.
Now what can we do? As lovers of travel, it is important to listen to the locals when visiting their home. Boi wants travelers coming to Tanzania to learn about the community, talk to people, and make friends. Do not be afraid to immerse yourself in the culture, ask questions, and explore!
As someone who found Zanzibar through GIVE, I will always recommend traveling with GIVE Volunteers. It is a way for you to experience a beautiful place and culture, while leaving a positive impact. Through GIVE I was able to meet Boi and other locals that are not only inspiring, but true friends.