Development Starts with Us

A blog post from Founding Director Jafari Msaki

Before I founded Africa Volunteer Corps with Caitlin Kelley, I was a volunteer. Through that experience, I realized that the culture of volunteerism is not well-practiced in Tanzania and that we need to work to change the negative mindset towards volunteering. I want to show people that instead of working to get money, you can also work to get experience and make Tanzania a better place. In doing this, you are helping the community and networking for yourself. This experience helps people get jobs.

When I volunteered, I benefitted a lot. I had a huge network of peers and organizations afterwards. I even met Caitlin while I was a volunteer. It has helped me so much to have a large network in the community.

Jafari and AVC Volunteer Jackline Ngowi during her first day in the field.

Jafari and AVC Volunteer Jackline Ngowi during her first day in the field

Volunteering also gave me the confidence of initiating my own projects. If you stay at home and hang out with your parents and your brothers and sisters, you can’t meet people and learn new things. When you can go out and work and speak to all types of people, it builds your confidence.

Volunteerism helped me realize that, “Yes, I can do this instead of being idle! I can be a self-starter and do anything. I don’t have to wait to be told what to do or given the chance. I can do it myself!” It taught me that development in Tanzania can come from within myself. Nobody can develop me as a person if I don’t want it and seek it out for myself.

Today, the AVC Volunteers impress me so much. They have excitement and they know what they want to do for themselves and for Tanzania. They expect to create opportunities for themselves. They have started businesses, schools, and other projects. I see our Volunteers getting the same excitement that I had as a volunteer. They know how to think outside of the box and initiate projects on their own.

I want Tanzanians to feel responsible for the entire community and future generations. It’s not just about your family, it’s about development for the whole country. We need to self-start. Development starts with us and will come from within. The government is responsible for us, but we are also responsible for ourselves and for the change we want. Together, we can make Tanzania what we want it to be.

Jafari with students at Salama Center in Moshi

Jafari with students at Salama Center in Moshi

Tanzanians, especially educated people or people with big ideas, need to start their own projects, creating jobs and development. Social enterprise needs to become a part of our culture. There are not enough jobs and so we need to make them while also solving our own problems. We need people to make innovations in agriculture, healthcare, education, and energy. We can do it. We just need to be creative. If we aren’t creative and we assume other people will step in and solve our problems, nothing will happen.

People come through the AVC program to learn and get experience. They will be the people making big changes and inventing solutions. We tell them, “You can create, you can innovate, you can initiate if you have the motivation. Don’t be scared to try.” We build their confidence and their ability as creative individuals. At the placements, they gain the concrete experience to learn the skills they will need to start their own projects.

We need to be proactive, creative, and productive. By doing that, we can reach our objectives of building a better future for Tanzania and Africa as a whole.