Winfrida “Winnie” Mshindo joined the Global Volunteers staff in 2017 and became Tanzania Team Leader in 2018. When on a service program in Tanzania, Winnie will be your Tanzania volunteer service guide – providing helpful assistance on the RCP Program, Tanzanian history and culture, development efforts, and travel in the Iringa District.
Your Guide to Tanzania Volunteering
Winnie earned a bachelor’s degree in Community Development with a specialization in Project Planning Management from the Tengeru Institute of Community Development. She was born and raised in Iringa, in southern Tanzania, and is the second of two children in her family.
As the Tanzania Team Leader, Winnie manages all aspects of the service program in Tanzania including the logistics, project assignments, and cross-cultural experiences to ensure volunteers have a safe, productive and meaningful experience. She carries out the role of Tanzania volunteer service guide from before the time when volunteers arrive in-country and throughout their volunteer stay in Tanzania.
Winnie Talks About Growing Up in Iringa
I am the second of two daughters in my family. My father passed away in 2015, but my mom took fully responsibility to help us reach where we are today. I think of her as a super woman. She made sure that we went to the best schools for better education and that we ate properly. She gave us everything she was able to to give us a comfortable life. My mother and my sister both work at a bank. I love the Iringa Region and I wouldn’t wish to live anywhere else.
I went to a primary school which taught only Swahili and I had trouble learning English, which made me lack confidence sometimes. But for secondary school, my mother took me to one of the best schools where students spoke English all the time and that is where I improved my English. I’m proud of who I am today because of my mother.
Winnie Talks About her Work with Global Volunteers
Exposure to volunteers with such varied backgrounds gives me an opportunity to learn different things about our world, and helps me to think outside the box in so many ways. The local people I work with, even in the absence of the teams being here, causes me to strive towards success in my day-to-day job and career aspirations.
“Winnie is a consummate professional. She is fair, listens well, and keeps order and organization in her meetings. She is a true example of leadership at its finest.”– Y. Michelle Merriwether, Tanzania volunteer in 2019
What is one of your favorite parts of being Global Volunteers Tanzania?
I just love everything about my job since every part makes me grow. Facilitating volunteer orientation and presentations build my confidence; engaging volunteers in different tasks and supervising them helps me to become more organized, professional, and efficient as a leader. Working with the community partners and local staff improves my interpersonal skills and fosters good relationships. Every part of my job has something to teach me, and I am always ready to learn. I have learned so much in these past two years that I have worked as Tanzania volunteer service guide.
How did you first learn about Global Volunteers?
I learned about Global Volunteers from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT), which announced the original job opportunity. When I found out more about the organization, it sounded very interesting to me, especially when I read about the program developing in the Ukwega Ward. Global Volunteers seemed genuinely committed to helping children and families. I started working with Global Volunteers in March 2017 as one of the Rural Caregivers, and was promoted to Team Leader in February 2018. This inspires me to work even harder knowing that Global Volunteers sees me as a leader!
“Winnie Mshindo is an exceptionally skilled and passionate leader. She is very organized, clear in her instructions, and fair in her treatment of all volunteers.”– Lynette Aytch, volunteer from Corporate Partner ZERO TO THREE in Tanzania in 2019
What do volunteers gain by serving in the Ukwega Ward?
The longer volunteers are able to serve, the more they will learn from the community both in terms of Tanzanian culture and local people’s goals and challenges. The people here are so loving and kind. They smile whenever they see you and welcome you to their home. They appreciate whatever volunteers are doing to help them – as previous volunteers have made them feel comfortable to be themselves.
There are so many interesting customs that volunteers learn about – celebrations, weddings, funerals, land division, government, the education system, and more. During free time, volunteers can opt to go on a safari with fellow team members, which is another enjoyable way to learn about Tanzania. There are many diverse animals that volunteers can see on a safari as we are lucky enough to be home to the “Big Five” – lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, and buffalo. For those who like to kick back and relax, there is also a fire pit in the courtyard of the RCP Center, where people can sit in the evenings and enjoy the beautiful stars in the dark sky.
What was it like moving to Ipalamwa and adjusting to village life?
Actually, my journey moving to Ipalamwa was a bit frustrating because I was not used to village life and I have never lived in a village before. But life doesn’t stop teaching, so we learn every day. So I said to myself, “Winnie, you need to adjust to this life because there is something for you to learn for the whole time you’ll be here.” It didn’t take me very long to adjust to the environment. And actually, I was happy because I started to live an independent life. When I lived in Iringa, I lived with my mother. But when I moved to Ipalamwa, I learned to be independent and do everything on my own.
There are some challenges because this place is quite remote, so the infrastructure and health services are a bit challenging for a person who moves here for the first time. But now with the Ipalamwa General Clinic, there are much better health services here in Ipalamwa. Ipalamwa is a very nice place, people are very kind and welcoming to everyone. It’s a very calm place where you can enjoy the quiet and meditate. Ipalamwa is a very nice place and anyone can live here comfortably. And, I’m so happy to work in such a fulfilling job as Tanzania volunteer service guide in this beautiful rural area.
Watch this short video of a fly over of the RCP Center in Ipalamwa.
How does Global Volunteers help the community?
Every volunteer is doing their part toward a collective goal of providing human and economic development, from those providing labor-related help in schools to those offering English instruction and tutoring of school subjects to those giving safety and social stimulation in childcare roles. There are so many stunted children in rural villages in Tanzania, and there are a lot of ways to help. The RCP program in the Ukwega Ward has been very effective in opening the eyes of many parents.
In the Western world, parents have access to Early Childhood Family Education (ECFE), which does not exist in these mountain villages. Our volunteers help parents help their children grow in all kinds of ways. Since we started the program in 2017, there are already so many improvements we have seen. Based on the data taken in 2017-2018, the risk of stunted children has decreased significantly, and we are still collecting the data to ensure ongoing improvement within these families. Local families have expressed that the RCP program is very helpful to their communities. Workshops impart knowledge to parents; home visits reinforce the knowledge and the technologies that we provide caregivers. Every activity is important to reduce stunting. The meal program in our schools is improving learning, educational retention, and attendance in students. This programming is relatively new and evolving. In the short term, it is proving to be vital in helping make children’s futures brighter!
“Winnie is lovely and makes the full experience organized & sufficient. She is professional & kind while remaining open and personable.”– Rachel Alvidrez, Tanzania volunteer in 2019 from Regis College
What do you do during your free time?
I love learning. During my free time, I often set aside time to try cooking something new, and singing gospel music with my friends and within my church. I also enjoy listening to various kinds of music, writing stories, and having fun with friends.