A Day in the Life of an Education Publicity and Stakeholder Engagement Volunteer

By Sophie Wilson, Education Project Volunteer


This summer I am volunteering with CDI on the Education Team as Publicity and Stakeholder Engagement Officer, alongside my counterpart from Kite DSM, Jackline Christopher. I decided to join CDI as, having recently completed my MPhil in Development Studies at Cambridge, I wanted an opportunity to apply what I had learned in a more practical context. Our role involves communicating with our stakeholders about the project through the website, a project newsletter, social media channels and blogs. It is also our job to promote what we are doing with local media companies here in Tanzania.

On Tuesday 14th 2018 Jackline and I set out to talk to media companies in Dar es Salaam. Our aim was to promote the upcoming launch of the Education Project’s Think Big Challenge at Ardhi University in Dar es Salaam on Saturday 25th August, and to discuss how potential media partners could become involved. Having previously emailed and called a dozen companies to no avail, we decided to take matters into our own hands and try to deliver some physical copies of our media information sheet and invitation letter. I hope this blog also provides a bit of insight into what life is like as a CDI volunteer!

8.00am – Woke up and found something formal to wear and which would counterbalance the informality of my flip-flops.

8.30am – Breakfast! This morning I had a chapatti with lemon and sugar and also a mango from Mwenge market, washed down with an avocado juice and a malaria tablet. Mango season is almost over so we considered ourselves pretty lucky to have found these at the weekend!

9.00am – We walked over to the lecture block, where the Education Team works together in one of the classrooms. Whilst waiting for copies of our letter to print, I put the finishing touches to a blog post for the Central Committee and sent out our latest newsletter to our project stakeholders.

10.00am – We were ready to go. We bought some envelopes from the university stationary store, and then head out to our first company via the local bus (dala-dala).

10.45pm – The first stop was the ITV and EATV offices. We pitched our project to the security guard and left the letter with him.


Our first stop was ITV and EATV

10.50am – We then crossed the road and tried The Guardian Tanzania and Nipashe newspapers. The first security guard took a liking to us, seemingly delighted by a Swahili phrase Jackline had taught me that morning – nimefurahi kukufahamu, a tongue-twister which means pleased to meet you. Floundering at further Swahili attempts, I was relieved when it appeared we were through to level two.



The Guardian Tanzania and Nipashe were next

After a second security guard conversation and a chat with the secretary, we were whisked through to the news room of The Guardian, where we met Mdm. Mngumi, a senior editor. She seemed enthusiastic about running a feature in the newspaper about our event. It was a quick conversation and we left the building feeling like we had met a celebrity in a VIP lounge.


At The Guardian Tanzania we met senior editor Mdm. Mngumi

11.30am – Buoyed by this success, we set off for BBC Swahili. The BBC offices were pretty swanky and high-tech. We were put in touch with news editor Aboubakar Famau and met him in the radio recording studio. Reclining in an ergonomic chair, Mr. Famau brainstormed a potential approach to covering the event. He mentioned hosting a radio “disco” – this is radio lingo for “discussion” – with a selection of students participating in the Think Big Challenge to discuss their initiatives. We were a bit more nervous for this meeting but pretty happy with the outcome!


We then found ourselves in the studio with BBC Swahili News Editor Aboubakar Famau

12.00pm – Next up was Clouds TV. We didn’t have any luck meeting an editor but we had a pretty in-depth chat about the Think Big Challenge with the receptionist, who was very interested in our event, and met a photographer who snapped a couple of pictures of us in the office.


Next up was a trip to TVE then on to Clouds TV

12.30pm – After Clouds TV, we visited TVE. We only seemed to get as far as security this time and left the office minutes after arriving. Reaching the bottom of the stairs, we had a change of heart and decided to try and ask one more time. We met another security guard who asked one of us to follow him – I waited in the waiting room whilst Jackline set off to deliver our pitch in Swahili. After 40 minutes, she emerged victorious. The Editor she met was very interested in our programme and was keen to collaborate.

We went back to TVE a few days later and they expressed interest in running news updates on our Think Big Challenge and Dream Sharing Event. They even wanted to feature our initiatives as part of a programme they were making about education in Tanzania. Result!

1.30pm – After TVE we had a rather long dala-dala ride to the next company. We finally made it to Azam TV, but only reached the receptionist stage.


Dropping letters off at Azam TV

2.20pm – After a 15 minute walk, we reached the next set of companies, grouped under Mwananchi Communications. As well as Mwananchi newspaper, the company also owns a paper called The Citizen. I really liked the citizen, having read an interesting article by them the day before on the importance of teaching entrepreneurial skills in schools – so was excited to be at their offices.


We finished the day with a trip to Mwanachi and The Citizen Newspapers

3.45pm – We were finally done with the day’s visits! We took the dala-dala back to base camp but on the way, stopped off for some food. It was chapatti with chicken (kuku) and noodles in a delicious sauce (makange). So delicious!


We finished the day with a delicious (late!) lunch

6.00pm – Having finished the daily project briefing and wound down for the day, it was time for choir practice. We’re working on a Swahili song called “Baba Yetu” for the Kite DSM Annual Fundraising Dinner in September. Having eaten a huge meal so late, I skipped dinner and headed back to the room – quite a departure from the normal evening routine of a street food dinner followed by a game of Bananagrams in the canteen!

9.00pm – At the moment I’m stumbling through Steven Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, a book I’ve always wanted to read but which takes more than ordinary levels of concentration. This, in combination with a busy day, sent me off to sleep under my mosquito net in 10 short minutes.


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