Lessons Learned from Working in Tanzania

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In this week’s blog post, our Marketing & Fundraising Coordinator, Ashley Hoy, reflects on her past 6 months with The Small Things, shedding light on the significance of her experience and her lessons learned. Thank you Ashley for giving the Nkoaranga community your time, love, and efforts. We wish you the best in your future endeavours. Karibu tena!
Guest Blog by Ashley Hoy
Marketing & Fundraising Coordinator
Today marks the very
last day of my internship here with The Small Things (TST). Exactly 6 months ago, I
arrived in Tanzania with a free mind, an open heart, and helping hands. Having
recently graduated with a Bachelors Degree in Physical Health and Education as
well as Post-Graduate Certificate in Sport and Event Marketing, I was eager to
apply my academic skills on the international field, while keen to gain the
knowledge and perspective achieved only by immersing oneself in an unfamiliar
setting.
Little did I know
how impactful my experience here would be. By this I refer to the genuine impact that TST has on the community it serves as well as the impact in which the past 6 months
has had on my own personal life. I have gained an abundance of knowledge, and a wealth of experiences of which 3 key lessons, while intuitive, have affected me greatly and will stick with me forever. 

1) Small actions really can lead to BIG change.


Specifically
when it comes to creating positive impact and empowering people to improve
their lives. TST’s Outreach Program is a prime example of how a simple one time
donation of $50 can empower a mother of 3 by setting her up with a small
business. With a simple micro-grant in the shape of a clothing, soap, or chicken business, TST enables families to be able to put food on their tables, get more kids in school, and sustainably break the
poverty cycle of a family and generations to come. I was fortunate to witness the inspirational Mama Max from our Outreach Program during my time here, who truly embodied the essence of taking a small step in producing positive effects. With her determination mixed with a little bit of TST support, a small business grant has led to a successful 
chicken business, enabling Mama Max to expand into the banana business, while improving the living conditions of her 4 children.

Mama Max – Outreach Program
2) Just because things are better, does not make them great. Just because things are great, does not mean they can’t be better.

From the beginning of my internship, it seemed as though every day brought new and exciting adventures for TST. From acquiring new grants and moving forward with the Children’s Village construction, to the addition of new staff and the expansion of the Outreach Program, TST was clearly growing very very quickly, positively impacting more people everyday. What really struck me however is the determination by the on-the-ground staff and TST’s passionate Board Members in ensuring TST’s growth is sustainable and responsible. Midway through my internship, an NGO Capacity Building Consultant, Carrie Barbo, took the TST staff through an unforgettable workshop, teaching us how to capitalize on our strengths and build from our weaknesses. This experience was extremely eye-opening and beneficial for the growth and development of TST as an organization, as well as all the staff as individuals. While it’s easy to get caught up with all the exciting new advances, especially being such a small and intimate charity, it’s refreshing to be a part of team that has such a great focus on developing and ensuring the constant improvement of its programs.

3) When many people work together, we can change the world!

Well.. I realize that’s a bold statement. So maybe not the entire world, but it’s definitely steps in the right directionFor
instance, my main project during my internship with TST was to run our summer
fundraising campaign, #SmallThingsSummer. The goal was to raise $20K by
motivating people to make small actions in order to raise funds and awareness
for TST. While $20K is a lot of money to raise through small efforts such as
coin jars, lemonade stands, bake sales etc., supporters from all over the world
came together to not only raise $20K, but exceeded the goal by more than $3000!
With everyone coming together for a purpose larger than themselves as individuals, the TST community was able to raise enough funds
to implement the Orphanage Reform, upgrading the orphanage’s infrastructure,
hiring more staff, installing solar panels, renovating the kitchen etc.

9 of the many amazing #SmallThingsSummer participants

During my time here,
I have learned so much about myself as well as about the world I live in, and
the world I hope and dream of. This journey of mine would not have been as
remarkable had it not been for all the talented and passionate people in which I had the pleasure of
working with; TST’s on-the-ground staff, the Board of Directors, all of TST’s
amazing donors and supporters, the Mamas that work day in and day out to
provide the children at the Nkoaranga Orphanage with love and care, TST’s
loving volunteers, and of course the amazing kids I’ve come to love
unconditionally. To all of TST’s family and friends, I want to give my thanks
and say “Asante Sana!” for an unforgettable adventure. I wish
the best for TST and the Nkoaranga community, and I look forward to returning in the future. 
Nakupenda TST! 
– Love Ashley
Ashley and Shujaa