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NEW - Volunteer Handbook (Nov 2011) for you to download (PDF) - click here

Web-sites for more information:

Overseas Volunteers: We welcome volunteers who are able to attend a selection process for interview and preparation (usually at one of our monthly meetings).  Unfortunately we are unable to accept overseas volunteers who would obviously be unable to attend (we are however happy to recommend other children’s homes operating in Tanzania who we know and trust - please email for details).
Prospective UK Volunteers: Please spend some time on our web site, it is full of information which you will find helpful. We will need to meet you and one of the best times is at one of our monthly meetings. If this is not convenient and you live some distance then please
Application form:  Every volunteer needs to download, complete and return one of these forms.
Download in ‘Word’ -
click here or in PDF - click here


N.B. If you are accepted as a visitor/volunteer either long or short term then as a guest/volunteer of Bethany we ask that you accept our guidelines on all matters which may affect our long term mission to our brothers and sisters in Tanzania. Your actions and dress will impact all those who see you and certain standards of dress and behaviour will be expected.
Alcohol: Is not allowed on site and persons visiting or found on site who have obviously been drinking will not be allowed to stay (this is a children’s home).
Smoking: If you must smoke please do so in private by arrangement with the team.
Communication: Please use your best English (obviously no bad language or slang). Our spoken English will be copied by the children and staff so correct pronunciation and the proper use of grammar is essential. The children and staff may be reluctant to speak English but they understand English much more than you may imagine. Please be aware of this and be careful what you say.
Communication with the UK.
We do not have email at Bethany (no phone land-line or satellite).
E-mail is possible from Magu (20km away) but is unreliable due to power failure or network problems. Mwanza (80km away) is more reliable.
Mobile Phones: These work well at Bethany but a UK registered sim card is very very very expensive to use. Better to buy a Tanzanian sim card (about 2) to insert into your unlocked phone. Calls can then be made from the UK to your mobile phone using special prefix numbers costing from about 6p per minute.
Click here for details
Malaria Prevention and Vaccinations : a precondition of visiting Bethany is that you are following a medically prescribed course of anti-malaria tablets and that you are fully immunised against a range of diseases. Your Family Doctor will determine the specific anti-malaria tablets and vaccines that you require and these could well include all or most of the following and any others that are deemed necessary: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Meningitis, Polio, Tetanus, Typhoid, Rabies, Diphtheria, Yellow fever. For more information consult the following websites:
Hygiene: Very poor everywhere except at Bethany
Health General: Hospitals are places to be avoided - therefore be extra vigilant with regard to safety - avoid accidents!

Road Safety: Does not exist in Tanzania - be extra vigilant when anywhere near the road. Bus drivers have no regard for people and do not slow down!
Personal Safety: As in other cities but more especially in Mwanza - only walk with someone who knows where they are going - be street wise - always on the look out for pick-pockets etc. - avoid eye contact with street sellers remember the word for 'NO' (hapana). If you are buying goods only have sufficient money in your pocket for those goods (no bulging purses with lots of notes on show). Keep money in different places - wear a money belt -under your T shirt!

Beggars: Bethany policy is that guests/visitors/volunteers agree not to give to beggars.(we will be happy to explain the reason for this policy).
Other giving: Volunteers and Guests agree not to give money/clothes or other goods to children/workers or others whilst visiting Bethany.(Click here to see our gifts policy - this is very important) If you want to give a particular item to someone then see those in charge who will advise how it might be done.
Life at Bethany: Bugs like to hide in your clothing at night. Put everything back in your case and close it before going to sleep. Shake all clothes and shoes before wearing them.
Cash General: It is better to use the correct currency as the use of foreign currency makes us vulnerable to overcharging. Credit cards may be accepted in Nairobi and to a limited extent in Mwanza. (for emergencies).
Use of vehicles: As of January 2005 we have two vehicles. Both are used to fulfill the objectives of Bethany.
Click here to see our Transport policy.
Contribution towards cost of food, accommodation and transport:
The project runs on a very strict budget (and we sometimes run out of money for food!) and we ask visitors to contribute towards the cost of the food and also to pay for additional food if required or bring/purchase their own (i.e. Tea bags, powdered milk, marg, jam, etc) food not usually used at Bethany (too expensive). Accommodation and  food costs about 2,500Tsh per day (about 1.30p).  Also,  a donation towards diesel for extra yet essential trips (i.e. to and from the airport) will be made. Sadly our vehicles are not allowed off road (no trips to the Serengeti etc.).
Corruption and lack of integrity: As in the UK this is even more rife in Tanzania - from the peasant to the politician. Sometimes it is those who are in the least need who are most likely to ask for things (beg). Those with the greatest need (Bethany is taking care of). Don’t be led by sentiment or make emotional responses. Refer requests back to the UK team who will explain the position. (e.g. requests for help for health care, education, funeral expenses etc.etc.)
Photographs and Video: please
click here for our policy.
Relationships: Volunteers (especially relevant to younger people - students) must not ‘flirt’ with the older children or staff. ‘Courting’ in Tanzanian culture is a prolonged and complicated process and casual boy girl relationships are seen as inappropriate.
Marriage: Bethany upholds the Christian principle that only married couples should be ‘living/sleeping together’. Therefore Bethany is unable to support applications by non married couples who are living as man and wife. To do so would bring into question our values of integrity and honesty in respect of appropriate relationships within, in particular, the Tanzanian culture.

VIDEO ‘A Walk round Bethany’ in four parts
Useful for those thinking of visiting
Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4

Important Information added April 2009

Due to the Financial crisis we are now asking short term volunteers to bring with them the following:
1) Two single sheets for bed.
2) Beaker (mug) unbreakable
3) Plate and dish (unbreakable)
4) Knife fork and spoon
5) Donation of 20 for new foam mattress.
6) Donation for new Mossy net 3
(In the past Bethany funds have purchased new mattresses and mossy nets for our volunteers and then when they leave the new ones replace some of our older mattresses. Unfortunately we no longer have funds to do this hence the request).


Men: several long and short sleeve T shirts. Two pairs of shorts and at least one pair of long trousers. (Long sleeve T shirts and trousers to wear in the evenings to protect from Mosquito bites). Sandals are advisable whilst in Tanzania - worn without socks (less washing). A 'best' pair of trousers and shirt for Sunday services. A hat to keep off the sun. Adequate underwear etc.
Women: Trousers should not be worn unless worn underneath a Kanga (full length). Shorter skirts and dresses can only be worn underneath a kanga (full length).  Otherwise, long, light weight skirts & dresses (with underskirts) worn 8" below the knee. Anything shorter is looked upon as being immodest. A hat to keep off the sun.  Long tops covering the shoulders (no tank tops).  Please do not wear make-up. Take adequate underwear etc.
Jewelry: including decorative studs etc. should not be worn by either sex (otherwise the children will want to copy)
N.B. Do not take excessive clothing as items can be washed in the evening and are dry the following morning - also, many different clothes denotes 'wealth' which does not help in building relationships with those who have so little.

Take only those things you can afford to lose - there is no insurance (of any kind) at Bethany.
Other useful items: Insect repellent (jungle formula), soap, toothbrush, beaker, towel, flat pack toilet paper, tissues, usual toiletries. ear plugs, water bottle, Medicines for upset stomach and headache etc.
Essential items: Bible, diary
Food: Food at Bethany consists mainly of rice and something else (e.g. beans) together with water. Many visitors find cup-a-soups, chocolate drinks, good coffee, good tea, sweeteners, dried milk, boiled sweets a refreshing change! These items are not always readily available in Tanz so if you want them - take them with you. Otherwise, be prepared to 'fast' or diet. Whatever happens please don't complain about the food - in earshot of our children or staff as they appreciate the food very much.
Drinking water: This comes directly from the lake and is only filtered by passing through a UV filter. It does not filter particles out of the water and can therefore sometimes appear discoloured or cloudy. However it is safe to drink and it is not possible to bring bottled water for use at Bethany.
Baggage allowance: Usually 20 kilos + 7/12 kilos hand luggage. Often Bethany will ask you to allow them 10 kilos of your luggage allowance for the transport of essential supplies (e.g. medicines,  books,  engine parts etc.)


This information will continually be updated as people bring items to our attention which we have not yet included. If you have any questions please email us . Last updated May 2009