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Volunteering in Munich for NGO Jambo Bukoba

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sophie clemens andreas jambo bukoba

Sophie with Jambo Bukoba board members Andreas Meindl and Clemens Mulokozi


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Sophie Glaesner has been volunteering for Jambo Bukoba since 2012. She is responsible for interns, volunteers and administrative tasks. We talked to Sophie about her experience as a volunteer for an NGO, how she came to Jambo Bukoba and what she likes about volunteering there.


Sophie, how did you become a volunteer at Jambo Bukoba?
Around 2010, I realized that I had more capacity to take on something new. My children started to spread their wings and leave home. Our daughter went to school in Canada for a year and our son decided to spend a year volunteering in Africa before going to university. I had some time available, so in addition to my other activities, I decided to do something meaningful and beneficial.
Why did you want to volunteer for an NGO?
I wanted to help in some way, so I researched NGOs and charities in Munich to see if there were suitable roles available. There are several excellent organizations, such as Gute Tat or Tatendrang München, that advertise projects where volunteers are required. That’s where I found Jambo Bukoba.
What attracted you to Jambo Bukoba and helping out in Tanzania?
I had just come back from visiting our son in Tanzania and I was really impressed with the country. Tanzania has incredibly talented people with so much to give. During that trip, I realized that because young people there don’t have the same opportunities as we do in Germany, especially with regard to education, that they simply don’t have the chance to achieve in life like we do. Jambo Bukoba is trying to change this situation by facilitating educational opportunities for children and teenagers in Tanzania.
What was the next step in becoming a volunteer?
I contacted the founder of the organisation, Clemens Mulokozi, met him and listened to his vision. It was exciting to hear about the teacher training programme “Life Skills Through Games”. I found the approach very positive and dynamic: Jambo Bukoba uses games and sports to teach children how to better deal with certain life situations and about concepts like team work, gender equality and hygiene. In fact, this program really empowers young people and helps them to help themselves. The three pillars of Jambo Bukoba’s work, education, equality and health, are also personal priorities. Once I understood the Jambo Bukoba concept, I realized that this was where I wanted to volunteer and support it in reaching its goals.
Jambo Bukoba’s work empowers girls in particular. Was this a factor in deciding to volunteer for the organisation?
Absolutely! Jambo Bukoba’s special support of girls was an important factor. Empowerment of women and girls through education are central values in my life. My own grandmother was born in 1904 and back then, education for girls was not a priority. To survive in life, you needed a man and your only option was to get married. My own mother always emphasised the importance of education to me, and how education is the only way to stand on your own two feet and lead an independent, self-sustaining life. I want to help Jambo Bukoba to help girls in Tanzania to do exactly that.
What volunteering jobs do you do at Jambo Bukoba?
When I joined Jambo Bukoba, I just got stuck in, helping out where I could. I started off writing Christmas cards and pretty soon I took on more challenging tasks. I worked with Weltwärts to arrange for volunteers to work on our projects in Tanzania. I supported the shipping of containers of donated sports goods to Tanzania. I loved these new experiences and opportunities to learn something fresh and different. Eventually, I took on complete responsibility for Weltwärts youth volunteers in Tanzania and for our volunteers here in Munich. This was a completely new field for me.
Did you get to travel to Tanzania with Jambo Bukoba and see the project work there?
Yes I did. In 2014, I travelled there with several other volunteers and Clemens to meet our wonderful Tanzanian team. It was an amazing experience. We visited many communities, saw our Life Skills Through Games programme in action and met with members of the government.

sophie in tanzania

In 2018 Sophie travelled to Tanzania with Jambo Bukoba


What were your impressions of Jambo Bukoba on that trip?
I had already formed a positive impression of Jambo Bukoba before we all travelled to Tanzania together. But when I was there and I witnessed the impact of the work on young people, it was clear to me that what we are doing work is truly sustainable. It is helping to create a better future for Tanzanian children and their communities. And it’s a partnership between Jambo Bukoba and those communities. It’s helping them to help themselves. When we undertake a building project, the community in Tanzania has to contribute 25% of the costs in some form. The community is involved in decision-making right from the start. It’s a partnership of equals.
Is that a point of difference from other development organisations?
I can’t speak for other NGOs working in Tanzania but through Jambo Bukoba’s approach, cooperating with the community and having a deep understanding of the local culture, they have a bigger picture of what is needed before a project starts, and they can take special needs into consideration. For example, there is a serious stigma against albino people in Tanzania. Albino children are hunted for body parts, which are considered a kind of talisman. When building a school, it’s essential to know these kinds of details about the community so that measures can be calculated in, like factoring in a wall around the school to ensure that these children are protected.
You’ve been at Jambo Bukoba for nearly 9 years now. Have you seen many changes since you started there?
Definitely! It’s incredible how much the organisation has grown and how much has been achieved in so few years. Jambo Bukoba has gone from donating sports goods to the development and roll-out of the “Life Skills Through Games” teacher training program, to school renovation, WASH and emergency aid projects. In this short time, we have reached over 500,000 children through the Life Skills Though Games workshops, and undertaken over 60 school building projects.
What advice do you have for people who might be interested in volunteering for an NGO or charity?
I think it’s important when you volunteer that you do a volunteering activity that suits you personally. It has to be something that you enjoy. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in a field that you know something about. With volunteering, you have an opportunity to learn something new. That’s the joy of volunteering. But it has to bring you satisfaction, whether you are working in bookkeeping or communications or directly involved with project work.
Have you some final words about Jambo Bukoba?
As a volunteer, it’s important to me that I am working for an honest and serious organisation that is spending donations carefully and efficiently and effectively. At Jambo Bukoba, everything we do is transparent. Anyone can access our financial reports on our website, and monthly meetings, where projects are discussed, are open to the public. You can come along in person or join via Zoom or on our Facebook page.
When you have a high level of trust in an organisation, as I do with Jambo Bukoba, you are more than happy to help them reach their goals.
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If you would like to volunteer with Jambo Bukoba, please visit our website for further information.
Source: Interview with Muriel Burke
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