Talking Point: From Falkirk to Tanzania

Connor Hanlor, first left, top row, volunteering with Raleigh International in Tanzania
Connor Hanlor, first left, top row, volunteering with Raleigh International in Tanzania

My name is Connor Hanlon (25) and I come from Falkirk.

For the last seven weeks I’ve been volunteering in Tanzania, working on a water, sanitation and hygiene project at Nanenane school in Nyamwezi.

Funded by my employer Buildbase, I worked alongside six of my colleagues with sustainable development charity Raleigh International.

As well as constructing 18 new toilets, a hand washing station and a menstrual hygiene management room, we also helped run workshops on hygiene with local children.

This was a great opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and away from the luxury we take for granted at home.

It’s about doing good, helping people and changing their lives for the better.

The rural Tanzanian village was a world away from my life in Falkirk and working on the sales counter at the local Buildbase branch.

The weather is usually max 20 degrees in Scotland – in Tanzania it was almost double that. It was also good to experience different cultures working together. By not being connected to back home, we were able to take in the full experience.

It makes you realise the difficulties faced in other countries. I found it easier than some of the others though as I was staying in the chairman’s house!

Martin, the Nyamwezi chairman, took to spiking our food with chilies as a joke, which was a laugh.

The Buildbase volunteers found our knowledge and skills helped us acclimatise to the new working environment. Knowledge of construction, such as use of cement, gravel and sand, as well as communication and leadership skills were developed as part of the project.

It has really helped my work at Buildbase as I’ve come back with a different outlook on life and developed some new skills.

Buildbase funded seven employees, aged between 17 and 24, to volunteer on the project with Raleigh.

Adrian Watts, managing director at Hirebase, a division of the company, led the initiative after hearing Raleigh staff speak about how to become a responsible business at a European convention.

He said: “The opportunity to make a difference by collaborating with Raleigh International marks a key step forward in making our corporate responsibility activities tangible. The future potential of our young employees is so important to our business and projects like this can really help them achieve their goals and make a difference.”

Raleigh International believes when local communities and young people work side by side to create positive change, it empowers them. And it’s the energy and motivation of empowered people that creates lasting change.

The charity, which began in 1984, works for and with youngsters in Tanzania, Nepal and Costa Rica to inspire and make positive change by providing access to safe water and sanitation, protecting vulnerable environments and building livelihoods.

It achieves impact in all of these areas by engaging young volunteers from around the world through its Raleigh Expedition and International Citizen Service (ICS).

For more information, visit the website www.raleighinternational.org.