Cambridge Development Initiative is a student-run development CIO working in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Each year, about 40 volunteers from Cambridge join with 40 volunteers from universities across Dar es Salaam to design, implement and develop CDI’s four projects: WaSH (Water, Health & Sanitation), Education, Health and Entrepreneurship. These projects aim to empower disadvantaged communities, as well as making a sustainable and long-lasting impact.
I joined CDI last November, taking on the role of Publicity Officer. Since then, I have been working closely with the rest of the executive committee as we prepared for the summer trip. During the academic year, I ran the recruitment drive in order to gather a team of volunteers, and rebuilt CDI’s website in order that we present a more professional front to NGOs and other companies who may wish to partner with or fund us.
This summer, the Cambridge half of CDI flew out to Dar es Salaam in order to join with our Tanzanian counterparts. We all stayed together in Ardhi University, and worked six days a week for two months to develop and implement our projects. The work was hard and exhausting, but incredibly rewarding.
My role within the organisation is fairly unique, since being the only person in charge of publicity, I don’t have a project team around me whom I work with every day. However, this provided me with the chance to oversee all of the projects, and actually gave me a much more detailed understanding of all of the work that CDI undertakes.
Over the course of the summer, I produced eight blogs and eight project videos detailing the work that was being carried out (see www.cambridgedevelopment.org/summer-blog). Added to this, I was advising our volunteers on the way in which they publicised different areas of their projects, and am currently in the process of producing an overall promotional video for the organisation.
One of the best things about being a part of CDI this year has undoubtedly been being a part of the committee and thereby shaping the direction of the organisation. This summer, we have been discussing a potential restructure of the project-model, and presenting our possible alternative to the new committee. Although the current model has been successful for the past four years (since CDI was founded), we feel that it doesn’t fully maximise the sustainability of our projects. Instead, we are trying to develop a new structure whereby the project life-cycle is better defined and more efficient, meaning that our work, once it has reached a suitable point, can be handed-over to one of our partners (such as a larger NGO), who can then scale-up and develop our initiative to have a greater impact across Tanzania.
Working in Dar es Salaam was an amazing experience and unrivalled opportunity. Not only did I get the chance to meet with multiple NGOs and other international companies, but I was working every day with a wonderful group of Tanzanian students. CDI is truly unique in this respect: I haven’t come across any other organisation in which students, from utterly different backgrounds, work collaboratively together for the same goal.
As well as all that I have learnt about the charitable sector and about the vision and workings of an NGO, this summer has provided me with the opportunity to immerse myself in East African culture. Dar es Salaam is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, and as a result is an incredibly busy place. It is not really a tourist destination, and so any ‘mzungu’ has to pick up the way of life very quickly, from haggling bajajis to buying street food. My Swahili has certainly improved, although I definitely want to work more on this, and by the end of the two months I felt very at home, both in terms of the food and the way of living.
A few short days in Zanzibar at the end of the trip provided the opportunity to relax after a hard two months of work. The island is stunning, and I felt incredibly lucky to lie on a virtually empty beach with no other obligations than to relax after all the work we had done! The main town of Stone Town is an amazing conglomeration of cultures, and I could have spent a lot more time exploring its narrow streets and beautiful architecture.
I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to work with CDI this year, and for the Gateway funding that made the summer trip possible for me. I have learnt so much about the sector in which I wish to work in the future, and have made so many friends, both from Cambridge and Tanzania. Not only did it provide the most practical internship I could have hoped for, and gave me the opportunity to travel, but most importantly, it was work which truly brings about positive and sustainable social impact, and for this reason, I would recommend it to anyone.