Monday
Aug112014

Staff blog: Eid al Fitr

Eid al Fitr is the Islamic holiday celebrating the end of Ramadhan and is also known as the ‘Sweet Feast’ or ‘The Feast of breaking the fast’.  After thirty days of fasting Eid is a celebration which is met with a two day party and an excess of eating to the point where it is actually forbidden to fast during Eid. In Utende village families and friends gathered together to eat pilau rice a dish cooked with spices and meat which teaching volunteer Claire and I were lucky enough to be taught to cook with Mama Fatuma from the village- although I think our culinary skills may still need some work in order to perfect them!

In the ‘western world’ Eid is probably most comparable to the December holidays in the sense that much like Christmas gifts are given to loved ones, a traditional meal is eaten (the pilau I mentioned previously) and it is a time to be spent with family and friends. Rather than comparing the celebration to Christmas I have said the December Holidays, this may seem an odd phrase but one that is carefully chosen as also Eid is associated with new beginnings similar to the New Year celebrations. This is not only a theoretical new beginning but it is noticeable around the village the new clothes, hairstyles and possessions as this renaissance shows itself in material possessions.


Unlike Christmas and New Year, Eid falls on a different date every year as the lunar Hijri calander is dependent on the moon’s cycle and Eid marks the first day of Shwwal month. Even within one year the date is not certain as the month lasts for either 29 or 30 days and cannot be confirmed until the penultimate day of Ramadhan.
Frontier were included in celebrations this year as one of the local lodges, Beach House invited staff and volunteers to join them on their boat for a daytrip , a beach party and barbeque.

By Becca Court, Field Communitations Officer

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Tanzania.

Monday
Aug112014

Volunteer blog: Alex

It was only three days into my project and I was already trying to breathe underwater it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and one I will never forget. Doing my open water Padi course has made me find a love of diving. Diving the confined water dives we had to complete many skills, one of which was to fill our masks with water. This is something I hated so much and when I first tried it. It made me very panicky. But with lots of practise and support from our lovely dive officer – Louise- I now don’t mind doing it so much!

One of the most amazing things I saw on my first Open Water dive was a flathead crocodile fish and a Moorish idol – like Gill from ‘Finding Nemo’!


Away from the diving, you may think it odd but here in Tanzania we have chipsi and chipsi mayai as a treat, which makes a nice change from the daily rice and beans every once in a while! Chipsi is simply just chips and the chipsi with the mayai is basically an egg omelette with chip!
Coming on this trip has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life – I’ve met some brilliant people. I would recommend to anyone that they should come and experience a similar trip!

By Alex, Marine Conservation Volunteer

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Tanzania.

Friday
Jul252014

Staff blog: Sea turtles on Juani Island

Last week me and the marine team went on a camping trip to Juani Island where we watched new hatched green sea turtles run back into the sea. Such a special and amazing thing to experience, watching 124 young animals enter their new habitat full dangers and threats, and knowing only one in thousand will make it into an adult sea turtle.

Tanzania has five species of sea turtles of which two, the green turtle and hawksbill turtle, nest in Tanzania. The green turtle is the most common one and these are known to nest frequently on Juani Island. Once a turtle reaches sexual maternity, between 20 and 50 years old, females will migrate up to thousands of kilometres to a nesting beach on which they themselves were born. After 3 to 4 hours of hard work of laying her eggs she will move back into the sea, and it takes another 55 days before the turtles will start hatching.

In Tanzania sea turtles are under threat due to the result of human exploitation for food, oil, leather and ornaments, in the last centuries. Mortalities are also associated with incidental capture in fishing nets, the degradation of feeding habitats and marine and land-based pollution. While we were on Juani we could experience this latter threat. The beaches were covered with rubbish, and even though I was there the week before after having cleared the whole beach with my companions, the rubbish was just as bad this time. This was a good example and representation of the anthropogenic effects on marine habitats and species. Most trash is brought to the sea via rivers and 80% of this originates from landfills and other urban sources. And hundreds of thousands of sea turtles, whales, and other marine mammals, and more than 1 million seabirds die each year due to ocean pollution and ingestion or entanglement in rubbish. Sea turtles often mistake plastics and other garbage as food, like jellyfish, which causes blockages in their digestive system and eventually causes death. And due to the direction of the current around Juani island, all rubbish from surrounding islands, even far away, is washed on to shore here. And as these turtles do not have another place to go because they will always nest at the same beach that they are born, they are trapped within these beaches and waters filled with rubbish.

So next time you are attempting to litter or when you see rubbish on the floor, please consider what impact this might have on these special creatures, as to other marine species.

By Becca Court, Field Communications Officer.

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Tanzania.

Wednesday
Jul092014

Dive Officer blog: PADI Open Water Course

With the holidays in full swing, Frontier Tanzania has welcomed lots of enthusiastic new volunteers in the last few of weeks, many of which showing a keen interest in the underwater world and marine conservation, so the marine team have been kept on their toes with courses and BSPs galore! I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate RA Celina Ramsay on recently completing her PADI Rescue Diver Course and marine ARO Jennifer Freer will imminently complete her PADI Divemaster course with only one Search and Recovery dive to go, a great achievement and the first step on to the PADI professional ladder! Last week saw 5 RAs complete their Open Water Diver course and we all enjoyed every second of it with fun and laughs had by all! As a diving instructor I find great enjoyment and satisfaction in teaching and sharing my experience with others, watching students take their first breaths underwater and seeing their diving skills develop is something very special.


The PADI Open Water Diver course is the world’s most popular and widely recognized scuba course. If you have always wanted to try scuba diving, experience unparalleled adventure and see the underwater world, this is where it starts! With so many volunteers currently undertaking the Open Water Diver course during their time with Frontier Tanzania, I wanted to share a brief overview of the course.

The course is split into three sections; Knowledge development to understand basic principles of scuba diving, Confined Water Dives to learn and practice basic scuba skills at shallow depths and Open Water Dives to use the skills learnt in the confined sessions and explore! The course also includes some water skills such as swimming and floating, we also practice skin diving techniques.  


Breathing underwater for the first time is something you’ll never forget (trust me), so don’t wait! But be warned though, once you start you will never want to stop!

By Louise Howell, Dive Officer

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Tanzania.

Tuesday
Jul082014

ARO Blog: Eddie Sacre

Is time spent volunteering time well spent? A response to the recent criticisms of voluntourism


Lately the industry of voluntourism - where youngsters (for the most part) spend their holidays volunteering in foreign countries instead of working or snoozing or drinking - has been under attack as a non-useful exercise or even a detrimental one. In an article titled “The problem with little white girls (and boys)” one writer says that young, unskilled white people cannot help by simply donating their time, they should just give their money, because if you don’t know how to build an orphanage, then you can’t build an orphanage, and the locals will just have to fix your mess. Let me first dismiss this argument with some science. A study by Darwall & Dulvy (1996) showed that volunteers for a marine conservation program in Tanzania were able to identify fish to the same degree of accuracy as an expert after 11 dives, which may take only one or two weeks. Yes, guidance by an expert is essential, but people can be trained in the skills required for specific tasks very quickly. An extra pair of hands, whether skilled or unskilled, is always helpful. If you want to help, you will.

So if people can be trained so quickly why not just train locals to do the work and pay them? Well, most volunteers also pay to be on their projects, so not only are they giving their time, they’re giving their money as well. Ideally, volunteers and locals should be working together, with volunteers helping to pay the wages of the locals and also lending a hand themselves. But why not just stay at home, working for a full-time wage in a rich country, periodically sending funds to the project, employing more and more locals? Because voluntourism is about learning. Learning where your money goes, why some projects work and others don’t, learning who you’re helping and why you’re helping and if you’re helping. If you don’t like the charity you’re working for, find another one, and if you don’t like that one start your own. Voluntourism may not always be a big positive but it is never a negative so long as you’re learning from it.

Before you go, try to find out as much as possible about who you’re going with. There are lots of websites dedicated to assessing the transparency of non-profits (http://www.charitynavigator.org, www.abroadreviews.com, www.gapyear.com, www.bbb.org). Or even skip the middle man. Decide what you want to do and contact local charities. But in the end, you’ll only achieve what you want to achieve. If you want to have a good time, then you probably will, and if you really want to help somebody, you probably will. We’re not restricted by who we work for, only by what we work for.

By Eddie Sacre, Forest Assistant Research Officer

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Tanzania.

Thursday
Jul032014

Volunteer Blog: Carmen James

As Part of our marine project here, each of us choose an animal of interest, we then give a short presentation to the rest of the group about. As I will be carrying out my dissertation at University next year on Cuttlefish I thought it would be a great opportunity to further my research and get a little more to grips with them. This is also a relevant topic as it is possible to spot cuttlefish whilst out on a dive here in Tanzania.  

Image couresy of William Warby

Cuttlefish:  

  • They are marine animals of the order Sepiida which belong to the class Cephalopda along with squid, octopuses and nautiluses.  
  • The word ‘cuttle’, refers to their unique internal shell the cuttle bone and though their name may be deceiving they are not fish but molluscs.  
  • The cuttle bone is porous and made of aragonite providing the species with buoyancy, regulating it by changing the gas-to-liquid ratio within the chambered bone. 
  • They are masters of camouflage and are often referred to as the chameleon of the sea, as regardless of their colour-blindness, cuttlefish have evolved the ability to rapidly change the colour of their skin to match their surroundings and create patterns which are chromatically complex. This enables them to warn off potential predators as well as become inconspicuous to them. 

By marine volunteer - Carmen James

Find out more about Frontier's volunteering projects in Tanzania.