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Psychiatric Hospital and Sober House, Zanzibar

Internship and Volunteering Possible
In Zanzibar, internships and volunteering are possible at several facilities in the area of psychotherapy and psychiatry. This includes the public mental hospital "Kidongo Chekundu Mental Hospital" and three facilities for drug withdrawal (Sober Houses): The ZAMECO and Detroit Sober Houses for males, and the Malaika Sober House for females. You can also combine facilities for your placement. Placements are also suitable with a focus on Social Work and Education.

Psychiatric Hospital in Zanzibar

The Zanzibar public psychiatric hospital "Kidongo Chekundu" follows the biopsychosocial model, which is an interdisciplinary approach that holistically includes the aspects of biology, psychology and the social environment. Consequently, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers are involved in the treatments.
Internships are possible for students of psychology, medicine and social work.
While the Zanzibar mental hospital, or aspects of mental health in general, have not received the same attention as the Mnazi Mmoja hospital of general medicine for many years, in 2021 a new, attractive building was opened for the Mental Hospital and the standard of services offered was also significantly extended and improved. Funding was provided by the Norwegian government, among others. Thanks to the new attractive premises, improved services and campaigns, the topic of mental health receives now less stigmatization by the Zanzibar population.
There are now 3 full-time clinical psychologists with MSc degrees from Muhimbili University, as well as 4 psychiatrists with medical degrees and several social workers and psychiatric nurses who can supervise respective internships.
The hospital's outpatient clinic is open Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays and sees approximately 1400 patient visits per month. In addition, around 850 outpatient heroin addicts are part of the methadone treatment program.
About 50-60 patients are admitted monthly as in-patients and usually only stay for short periods of time only. They are often brought in by family members or the police.
Kidongo Chekundu has its own department for child and adolescent mental health. Typical topics include psychoses, mood issues, mania, ADHD, autism as well as mental impairments and developmental delays. Reasons include drug abuse, genetic reasons, intra-family conflicts such as divorce of the parents (the number of divorces in Zanzibar is increasing rapidly) and various forms of abuse.
There is also an occupational therapy/occupational therapy area where patients draw and paint daily and do occasional gardening and carpentry work. However, for children, the occupational therapy department of the Mnazi Mmoja main medical hospital is used. As an intern, you can combine an internship at Kidongo Chekundu with any department of Mnazi Mmoja Hospital, if you wish so.
Cultural factors in psychotherapy might be particularly interesting to observe for interns. Superstitions such as belief in ghosts, witchcraft and curses are commonplace among patients. Although traditional African spiritual healers/witch doctors are becoming less accepted by the population, they are still the first port of call for many people who have mental problems. In a collectivist culture, including the social environment of those affected, such as the family, neighbours, but also Muslim clergy, is an essential part in the treatment, carried out by social workers.
Tasks for interns/volunteers include participation and implementation of group and individual counselling, care and attending ward rounds (Wednesdays and Fridays).
Read a report by Kerstin, who did an internship at the psychiatric hospital in the slider "More Info"

Sober Houses for Drug Withdrawal

The drug withdrawal program in Zanzibar was worked out by the government of Zanzibar in cooperation with Columbia University in 2008 as part of HIV prevention, as 11% of drug addicts in Zanzibar were HIV positive. We arrange volunteer placements and internships at three sober houses in Zanzibar: The ZAMECO Sober House and the Detroit Sober House of males, and the Malaika Sober House for females.
ZAMECO Sober House
ZAMECO (Zanzibar Mental Education and Counseling Organization) runs an American-style sober house in Zanzibar.
The Sober House is a self-help home for drug addicts. It is managed by Said, who is a psychiatric nurse and who is employed at the Zanzibar Mental Hospital, but he spends time at the ZAMECO Sober House every day. Daily issues are handled by Sabri, a former drug addict who has been clean since 2009, and is now volunteering at ZAMECO.
There are several programs where facilitators, who are also former drug addicts, now clean, cooperate with Sabri, Said, coordinator Badru and psychologist Dr. Shamata, who only attends the Sober House occasionally. This includes group sessions between facilitators and drug addicts, the "feeling session" where drug addicts express their feelings, "Open Sessions" which includes the drug addicts' relatives and friends, "Closed Meetings" and one-to-one counseling. Besides the activities at the sober house, the organization runs an outreach program for drug prevention and sensitization. ZAMECO also collects data to publish statistics. There is no qualified internship supervision at ZAMECO sober house.
Through the initiative of a Canadian volunteer, a program for anxiety management was started for patients with anxiety disorders and depressions using cognitive behaviour therapy. This is also attended by patients of the Mental Hospital, where such a program doesn't exist due to the lack of staff. Two Dutch volunteers have been conducting this program.
When new patients arrive at the sober house and the detoxification process starts, the first week is usually very hard for them. They suffer from pain and sleeping disorders, which is dealt with by giving pain killers and sleeping pills (trimadol, diazepam), for around a week until the situation improves. When other than the drug addicion, there are further psychiatric problems, patients are referred to the Mental Hospital, where they are medicated until the doctor decides to stop it. In case of Marijuana, medicines are usually being given for around 3 months.
It has never happened that patients get aggressive towards each other or towards volunteers/interns, because there are very strict rules at the sober house and patients control each other. The first rule is to respect each other. Patients who have been at the sober house for 6 months or longer, and who are progressing in their therapy, are given responsibility over new patients.
A placement at the Sober House is particularly recommended for qualified professional volunteers, and also to students who are at least in their 3rd year and who should be able to work relatively on their own. The typical working hours are from 9.00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Please see feedback from internship student Andrea:
"Samira had arranged a program from Germany that we did with the patients. Our days usually started with a "Feeling Session" from 9 to 10, talking about the patients' recent problems. From 10-12 we did Samira's program. After this, there was time for one-to-one counseling sessions. The work was great fun, but it was arranged completely by us.
I can recommend the Sober House to volunteers, however only to those who are well advanced in their course of studies. You have to be able to work on your own and you have to be emotionally strong (the patients have hard life stories). You should know this in advance! I had imagined the work to be very different and during the first couple of days I was completely overwhelmed by the situation. In Germany, the activities I did are never allowed to be done by internship students (not even psychologists, but only specially trained therapists). Therefore it is very important to provide a lot of information, so that volunteers/intern can prepare. If you have any questions, I'm happy to hear from you."
A placement at ZAMECO can be combined with a placement at the psychiatric hospital. You would be at the Mental Hospital for some hours every day, and some hours at ZAMECO Sober House.
Detroit Sober House
The Detroit Sober House was founded in 2009 as Zanzibar's first sober house. Around 30 patients are staying at Detroit Sober House, which is organized similarly to the ZAMECO Sober House, which is described above. Since its beginning, around 4000 patients have been attended.
Former addicts are volunteering as facilitators, helping the current addicts with their withdrawal, carrying out group sessions, art therapy, physical exercise and counselling. The therapy is done using the "12 steps plan". This concept, which has a strong religious focus, is working very well in Zanzibar with a success rate of 15-20%. Those who have participated in the program for at least 4 months and are clean, can afterwards volunteer at the sober house to help other addicts, such as accompanying them to treatments (at the Mental Hospital Kidongo Chekundu or the general hospital Mnazi Mmoja), and keeping them busy. Patients stay at the sober house typically for a duration of 1 to 6 months. Other topics of importance at the sober house include sensibilization about HIV and other drug-related risks and diseases.
The typical daily schedule at the Sober House is as follows:
* 6am: Getting up and cleaning the sober house including toilets, showers, sleeping rooms and common rooms
* 8am: Breakfast
* 9am: Feeling Session, Group Session: Exchanging Feelings, dreams and fears
* 30 mins break and meditation
* Leisure time until 3pm
* 3pm: 12 Steps Plan
* Leisure Time until 8pm
* 8pm: Dinner
* Until 10pm: Watching TV
* Sleeping
The director of the Sober House is Suleyman, a former addict. The Sober House is financed to a small degree from government funds.
Detroit Sober House doesn't typically assign tasks to volunteers and interns and therefore it is important that interns/volunteers are proactive in identifying and carrying out tasks. They can for instance do activities such as sports, boxing, meditation, jogging etc to bring variety into the daily routine of the addicts. For instance, a former volunteer carried out a pottery workshop, which resulted in an exhibition. You would have to bring materials that are needed, such as art supplies or sports gear.
Volunteers and interns also are involved in giving emotional support, joining the counselling sessions. Skills of the Swahili language are of advantage. Typically, a facilitator who knows English and can interprete is joining these sessions. However, it is desirable if volunteers can manage to work on their own.
Internship supervision for students of medicine, psychiatry and psychiatric nursing is possible by Mr. Mussa, the coordinator of the Zanzibar Drug Commission. Mr. Mussa holds a MA degree in psychiatric nursing with a specialization in addiction. He will meet interns once per week at the sober house to support, advise and train them.
This placement is not only suitable for students and professionals of psychology, but als for participants with a background in social work and education.
Interns/Volunteers should have a stable personality, a positive attitude, be able to motivate themselves and be professional when dealing with persons with mental problems.
The duration of the placement should be at least one month.
Malaika Sober House (for women)
The Malaika Sober House was opened in 2014, following the same concept as the Detroit Sober House. There are currently 5 ladies staying at Malaika Sober House, which was attended by 39 women aged 19-43 years since the inception of the program.
The services provided by the Sober House include drug withdrawal by means of single and group counselling, occupational therapy and work therapy, HIV Counseling and Testing, referral to Kidongo Chekundu Mental Hospital and to Mnazi Mmoja general hospital, self support groups and family therapy.
In total, there are much less women addicted to drugs (mostly Heroine) than men (the relation is around 1:30). Unfortunately, the withdrawal program for women is much less successful. This may have several reaons.
Firstly, in Zanzibar drug-addicted women are often expelled from their families, as female addiction is seen as a shame in Zanzibar's society, while addicted men are given much more support.
Secondly, the mental problems of drug-addicted women in Zanzibar are often much more complex. Most of the women are sex-workers, suffering from physical, mental and sexual abuse; a high percentage are HIV positive. The women emotionally and financially dependent on men - they are often seeking for drug withdrawal, however they cancel the program if their husbands/boyfriends ask them to. Female counsellors are often refused by female patients who prefer male therapists and reference persons, which however is often not tolerated by the female patients' husbands or boyfriends.
Furthermore, it is legally not allowed that the women's children live with them at the sober house. The wish to be with their children is another reason for women to prematurely quit the program.
Malaika Sober House is directed by Zulfa, a former addict.
Interns and volunteers should have a stable personality, they should be able to motivate themselves and to work professionally with persons who have mental problems. Many of the female patients show a quite manipulative behaviour, trying to create relations of dependency with interns/volunteers. Those who volunteer or do an internship at the sober house should be able to recognize such disorders and deal with them professionally.
Internship supervision for students of medicine, psychiatry and psychiatric nursing is possible by Mr. Mussa, the coordinator of the Zanzibar Drug Commission. Mr. Mussa holds a MA degree in psychiatric nursing with a specialization in addiction. He will meet interns once per week at the sober house to support, advise and train them.
This placement option is not only suitable for students and professional with a background in psychology, but also for participants with a background in social work or education. They can for instance carry out educational activities such as teaching English or teaching computers, do sports (e.g. stretching and Yoga) or anything else which has a stabilizing effect on the patients. Also there is interest in health and nurtition counselling and in workshops about Child Care, HIV and other health-related topics. The sober house has the plan to open a shop where the women can sell their handcrafts.
The duration of the placement should be at least one month.
Info Box
Location: Zanzibar Town, Zanzibar
Availability: All year, Start date flexible
Minimum Duration: Mental Hospital and ZAMECO: 1 Week; Detroit & Malaike: 1 Month
Maximum Duration: 12 Months
Language Requirements: English
Further Languages Of Advantage: Swahili
House, Host Family, Hotel
Supervision Possible: Yes
Qualification Of Supervisor: See project descriptions above
Minimum Qualification Of Intern:
Relevant study or training
Further Contribution To Project: Yes: either ZAMECO sober house or Mental Hospital: 100 USD per week. Detroit & Malaika: 45 USD per week.
Volunteering Possible: Yes
Required Qualification For Volunteer: Professional Specialist in Psychology, Psychotherapy, Psychiatry
Further Contribution To Project: Yes (either ZAMECO sober house or Mental Hospital): 100 USD per week. Detroit & Malaika: 50 USD one-time for professionals.
Professional Conduct, Do you have the "right" attitude?

My internship at the Mental Hospital in Zanzibar

I was in Tanzania for six weeks February/March of this year, and did a four weeks internship at the Mental Hospital in Zanzibar. In the following report, I would like to give some information about my internship and give an impression of the experiences that I have had during this time.
The Mental Hospital, Zanzibar is located a bit far from the main hospital of the island. Very centrally located, directly opposite the city market, there is a large and busy bus stop, from where all dala-dalas (small buses, which serve as the main means of transportation on the island) depart. From there, you reach the clinic in about five to ten minutes on a dala-dala.
On my first trip, Sula, the coordinator of World Unite! came along, and introduced me to the director of the clinic, Mr. Suleiman. I was greeted very warmly and made familiar with the situation in the clinic in a lengthy conversation. For example, I was told how many patients were admitted to the hospital and outpatient clinic, how many people were employed in the clinic and how the task areas look like. Mr. Suleiman assured me that I could turn to him anytime if I had questions or concerns of any nature. Through this conversation, I felt in good hands and was now insanely curious to see what would happen to me.
That same day, I met a Cuban psychiatrist who had been working under a development and exchange program of the Cuban government for two years. During my internship, this doctor was my contact and I could be present in all conversations that she had with the patients. The Cuban doctor seemed a very warm and open-minded woman with a lot of experience that she brought from her long career as a psychiatrist and psychotherapist in Cuba. This was not only in her words, but was clear in her dealings with the patients and I was very impressed. Despite the often difficult circumstances that have not always allowed a first-line treatment, they are very flexible and understanding to the needs of the patient; they try to do their best in spite of the lack of medication.
The course in the hospital was as follows: Within a week, the outpatient clinic was opened for three days. On these days, patients came from all over Zanzibar to check weekly progress and receive treatment. In most cases, these treatments with the patients lasted over several weeks. The Cuban doctor devoted time to inpatients on the remaining two days of the week. During a visit, interviews were conducted with all patients who were hospitalized in the clinic. Most of these patients were housed behind closed doors in the clinic.
During the consultations, in addition to the psychiatrist, other employees of the Mental Hospital were present, mostly another African doctor and several so-called psychiatric nurses. The conversation were held in English. If the patient could not speak or speak very little English, which was often the case, it was translated into English by one of the African people to the Cuban doctor and the reply in Swahili, to the patient. So, since everything was spoken or translated into English, I was able to follow the content easily.
I was always represented as an intern to the patients; I felt important and could take part in all the conversations. It was accepted by all patients and I did not feel that it was perceived as unpleasant. Instead, I had the impression that the patients were more likely glad that they met in the clinic, people who took them seriously, despite a "mental problem"; which has a long way to be accepted by society in their culture, which is contradictory to the West.
With me, were usually one to two other interns - medical or psychology students. The psychiatrist would explain to us certain symptoms of the disorder with images and the context, after an interview was done. The psychiatric work involved both diagnosis, as well as therapy, so close observation was very interesting for me. My work was more passive, as an observer.
For me personally, this kind of learning was very rewarding, as I have learned and taken away a lot by the watching the work of the Cuban doctor and other staff, and through the subsequent conversations. In the conversations with the Cuban doctor, we interns were also asked our opinion on individual diagnoses and could thus utilise our knowledge. Sometimes, I have even taken small practical tasks with the other interns. For example, there was a child who had visited with his mother because of learning difficulties in school; a few small tests were performed where we queried various abilities of the child. This was led by the Cuban physician and performed by me.
A four-week internship fitted me so perfectly. I can well imagine that a prolonged duration of the internship would have given me more practice. One must not forget that a huge cultural difference exists, which is reflected especially in therapeutic conversations. Therefore, I am of the opinion that even if only for a short duration, one must read up about the people, to learn and experience their faith and culture, before you can intensively work on a therapeutic level. Suggestions and ideas of any sort from a trainee will be welcomed in any case and hence, the responsibility is very big.
Now I will describe some more the diseases and disorders that occurred in the patients. The predominant psychiatric disorders were alcohol and drug addiction and psychosis. There were also some patients who were at the clinic due to depression symptoms or anxiety disorder. Many patients also had neurological disorders such as epilepsy or migraine. Children often came because of learning difficulties. Patients with eating disorders were uncommon and I was also told that it does not exist there. The patients who were treated for drug problems were often admitted to the hospital and held for several weeks in the hospital. Most of them were young men who were looking for a way out from poverty through drugs.
Psychotic patients with schizophrenia have often complained of delusions, in which their cultural belief is reflected. It was apparent, for example, by ghosts or the like. It was very interesting to see how much a mental disorder is directed by the belief that a culture holds.
During my time in Zanzibar at the Mental Hospital, (about two months), the power supply on the island did not work, and many people came to the clinic because they suffered from fears about the future and then, for example, depressive symptoms had developed. For the people on Zanzibar, it is a very difficult time economically, as evidenced in discussions with many patients.
Finally, I can say that the internship was an insanely valuable experience for me. I have learned, during my time in the clinic, more about the people there and understand their culture; I hope that I could give the people appreciation by my presence and my interest, many of them in their culture probably not (yet) get that. Through clinics such as the Mental Hospital in Zanzibar and the active support of professionals such as the Cuban doctor, and more education about mental disorders amongst the population, I hope that in the future people who have a mental disease will have a higher status in society.
In retrospect, I would have liked a little more time. I can definitely recommend it to anyone who is interested in psychiatric work and would like to get to know people from a different culture from this perspective, to do an internship in Mental Hospital Zanzibar.

Accommodation in Zanzibar Town

In Zanzibar Town, there are accommodation options of various standards:
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Most popular! - This is the preference of most of our participants. You share an apartment with other participants (where you can choose between dorm room, twin/double room, and single room) or live in a house of middle standards with a host family.

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Comfort+ - For those with a need for comfort: Accommodation at a hotel or at a house of higher standards with host family.

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Adventurer - For simplest and cheapest deals: Homestays of simple standards.


Shared Accommodation:

Shared Accommodation in Zanzibar Town
There are several World Unite! shared accommodations throughout the city of Zanzibar Town - we choose them according to availability and proximity to your placement site. These are houses or apartments that are shared by our participants. All apartments are of comparable standard. We currently have such shared accommodations in the districts Shangani, Malindi, Baghani, Kigwajuni, Migombani and Mombasa.
Here are some examples of shared accommodation options:
World Unite! House in Zanzibar Town
The house is located in Zanzibar Town at a preferred residential area at walking distance to a beach. You can even see the blue ocean from the upper floor! The building has two floors, each with its own entrance, kitchen, toilets, bathrooms and shared living rooms. Furthermore, there is a large garden.
You can choose between 4-share dorm, twin/double room and single room (subject to availability). The 4-share dorm rooms are self-contained. The twin/double and single rooms share toilet and bathroom with other residents. All bed/rooms have mosquito nets, a wardrobe or chest of drawers, and a fan. Bed linen is provided; you have to bring your own towels however. The bathrooms have western flush toilets and cold showers, which is anyway more refreshing for the temperatures of Zanzibar. The kitchens are shared with other residents and have an electric or gas hob and a basic set of kitchen utensils that you need for cooking and eating.
There are communal living rooms with sofas and a dining table on each floor. The house also features a shared washing machine. The windows are barred for security reasons and at night, a night porter is on duty at the house. There are several small shops and supermarkets in the area, as well as restaurants.
Apartment in Stone Town
The apartment is located on the first floor of a historic building in the Baghani Area of Stone Town. It has four fully furnished bedrooms, suitable for single and double occupancy. In the kitchen, there is a gas and electric stove, refrigerator and functional kitchen equipment. There are two bathrooms with cold shower and western toilets. Bed linen is provided; you have to bring your own towels however. Each room has a ceiling fan and mosquito nets. There are plenty of restaurant options in Stone Town.

Host Families:

Rooms of middle standards with Host Families
Staying with a host family provides you with the opportunity to get a more intensive insight into the Tanzanian culture and society. We work with many host families in the city of Moshi. For boarding of middle standards, families are of the upper middle class of Tanzania. Their houses are of quality construction, equipment and furnishing for most of our participants. Often the houses have two bathrooms (which are also tiled), one for parents and one for the children and you. The shower is often cold, since a water heater consumes too much power. There is usually a western toilet in the house. There is Tanzanian and Western food like toast with jam, omelette and tea for breakfast; Meat/fish with vegetables and rice/ugali and chapati for dinner and to drink, tea, boiled water or homemade fruit juice. Vegetarian dishes are available on request. There is a fridge; food is usually cooked on gas. Most such families have one or two domestic workers who cook, clean and wash clothes by hand. Often, in the living room you'll find decorative curtains and doilies, stereo, television and an older laptop. The family also often, has a motorcycle or a thirty year old used Japanese car. Most of these things are, however, saved up over many years and the family still has financial difficulties to finance a college education for their children and use the car only for absolutely necessary journeys.


Hotel Accommodation and Accommodation of High Standards with Host Family:

Al Minar Hotel
Al Minar is a tastefully in Arabic and African style designed hotel with 22 rooms, located in a historic building at a central location of Stone Town, the historic part of Zanzibar Town, at walking distance to the Old Fort and the Forodhani Gardens. The rooms are all equipped with AC, minibar, traditional Zanzibari beds and tasteful furniture, free wifi, coffee and tea making facilities and a flat TV. From the large rooftop terrace you have a good view over the old town. The hotel is professionally managed and has attentive and friendly staff.
Accommodation of High Standards with Host Family
Staying with a host family provides you with the opportunity to get a more intensive insight into the Tanzanian culture and society. The food is usually very generous and cooked by maids who serve this for you and the family. Our participants have always been extremely pleased with boarding with host mother Rahma, who runs a catering company. Often, there are also drivers, nannies, gardeners and security guards as domestic staff who live in a separate house on the property. Such families usually have a power generator that is turned on in case of frequent power outages. Older children are often in boarding schools abroad like Malaysia, Emirates and England and you live in their nursery. Younger children are often at home and want to play with you.


Host Family of simple standards

Accommodation of Simple Standards with Host Family
For accommodations of simple standards, we cooperate with the NGO "ZASO"(Zanzibar AIDS and Orphans Support), with whom we also carry out the program "Social Reality Tour". Some employees of ZASO, who are social workers or teachers, and belong to the middle class of Zanzibar, offer the accommodation to our participants with their families. The rents of our participants contribute to an improvement in the average income of the families.
Simple standard here, means that the house is built simply. The floors are mostly of bare concrete, the roof is of corrugated iron with no ceiling; there is often only an Arab Squat toilet (but with flush) and we shower with a bucket or a simple water pipe. The furniture is minimalistic and purely functional. In the living room, there are some slightly more representative pieces of furniture made of Chinese wood. The family usually has an old, used fridge; a radio and an old tube television are also often present. Your room has a bed with a mattress and mosquito net and probably some hangers on the wall and a small shelf or the like. The houses have electricity. Food is usually cooked outdoors over an open fire or gas cooker. The food is usually without options - for breakfast, there is tea with chapati; for lunch, ugali or rice with beans and vegetables, for dinner, the same. Meat is only taken for special occasions, and if so, in small quantities. The families usually consist of mother, father and some children; many more children from the neighborhood visit the house and are around the house. As transportation, the family has bicycles and sometimes, a motorcycle. Income from the rent you pay are often the only way for the family to finance the education of their children.
The families from ZASO are particularly hospitable to World Unite participants; however, please note that some are conservative Muslims, who do not have as much experience in dealing with Western foreigners. Please conduct yourself accordingly. Female and male participants can only share a room if they are married.

I. World Unite! Service Package

Mobile/Cell Phone Users: If you don't see the rates for your desired duration of stay, hide other (shorter) durations of stay.
  up to 31 Days
32-60 Days
61-90 Days
91-120 Days
5 Months or longer
 wu servicepackage en
1 Person
450 EUR 600 EUR 700 EUR 750 EUR 850 EUR
2-4 Persons
(Rate per Person)
400 EUR 500 EUR 600 EUR 650 EUR 700 EUR
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The World Unite! Service Package includes:

  • Individual Consultation and Preparation prior to your arrival
  • Access to the World Unite! Online Resource Centre which has Preparation Materials including Intercultural Preparation, compiled particularly for your destination (PDFs, Videos)
  • Preparation Session via Skype; together with further participants
  • Arrangements for your Residence Permit, Work Permit or similar permit and other official permits (if required), but not the official government fees for it/them (See costs below)
  • Pick-up and Transfers from/to Zanzibar International Airport (ZNZ) on arrival and departure
  • Personal support staff at your location and at our international office
  • Orientation and Introduction in Zanzibar
  • Accompanying you to your placement on your first day
  • 24 Hours emergency support by local support team
  • 50 USD Contribution to your project (except for electives/internships at Mnazi Mmoja Hospital)
  • CO2 compensation of your long-haul flights: Costs for 10 seedlings of indigenous trees that we plant on the slopes of Kilimanjaro
  • Local SIM Card with 10.000 TSH air time
  • Issuance of Confirmations/Certificates for your university, scholarship, insurance, etc. and filling out/signing Internship Contracts for your university
  • 15% Discount for Safaris, Kilimanjaro Climbs, Excursions and Watersports Activities offered by "Budget Safari Tanzania"
The environmental conservation programs in Nungwi and Jozani also include:
  • Our own World Unite! full-time program instructors
  • In Jozani/Muungoni: Once per week half-day cultural activity in Muungoni Village
  • In Jozani/Muungoni: Use of a Mountain Bike


The Rates do NOT include:

  • Accommodation and Meals (see below)
  • Travel to/from Zanzibar (you book it on your own; we can assist you)
  • Official fees for Visa and Residence Permit (see below)
  • Insurance (Travel Health Insurance, Liability Insurance, Travel Cancellation insurance; you book it on your own, we can assist you)
  • Personal Expenses
  • Vaccinations
  • Local Transport (Estimated amounts see below)
  • Please note that for supervised/mentored internships, some organizations charge further contributions. You find this information in the "Info Box" below the respective internship description.

II. Accommodation Costs

You can choose between the following options:
All rates in US-Dollar.
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 All durations of stay
(1-365 Days)
Shared House/Apartment or Hotel  
Shared House/Apartment
1 Person
(Single Room)
14 USD/Night
2 Persons p.p.
(Double/Twin Room)
9 USD/Night
4- or 6-share dorm room p.p. 6 USD/Night
Host Family
Host Family on full board
1 Person
(Single Room)
26 USD/Night
2 Persons p.p.
(Double/Twin Room)
26 USD/Night
*You pay incomplete months (exceeding the first month) proportionally per day
In case of 3-4 person: Same rate as in case of 2 Persons. 5 or more persons: Contact us for group rates.

Overview of other costs:

  • If meals are not included: around 150-250 USD/Month for self-catering (eating out at affordable yet good restaurants and/or cooking by yourself; you are much more flexible in this way compared to if we would serve food at your accommodation)
  • Official Permits: For placement duration of up to 90 days: Visa 250 USD (for most nationals; to buy on arrival at the airport in Tanzania) + Work Permit 200 USD (we arrange through Zanzibar Labour Office); For placement of 91-180 days: twice the costs as in case of up to 90 days. Only for placements at public hospitals of up to 90 days: Visa 50 USD (for EU Citizens, Australians, New Zealand Citizens; 100 USD for US and Canadian Citizens) + Exemption Certificate 100 USD (no further permits needed)
  • Small local expenses (e.g. Internet, local transport): around 30-50 USD/Month (Estimate)
  • Insurances around 30-50 USD/Month


How do I pay?

Once all your questions have been answered and you confirm that you want to participate, we will email you an invoice. You can pay it via bank transfer, credit card or via Paypal. You will pay a deposit of 200 EUR / 250 USD when the invoice is issued. One months prior to your arrival you will pay the remainder for your Service Package.
The payment modalities for rent and possible further costs (e.g. internship supervision fees, as stated in info box of the respective project description) depend on your host country and placement. We will inform you beforehand. In many cases these costs are paid on site, but for some countries and placements they need to be paid partially or fully in advance.

Other Projects That Might Interest You:

These projects are suggestions for alternatives that may interest you or those that could be chosen as COMBINATIONS. The combination of projects in different organizations is often possible and usually cheaper than two individual bookings. Please contact us to know more! Check out our other listings in the areas of "World Learner" and "Active Travel" at your travel destination to make your stay even more interesting.

Safaris, Kilimanjaro Climbs, Day Trips, Watersports

budgetsafaribannerAs "Budget Safari Tanzania" we are arranging cost-effective yet high-quality safaris, Kilimanjaro climbs, excursions, and watersports activities in Tanzania and Zanzibar. You will group with other World Unite! participants and further travellers.
As a World Unite! participant, you get a 15% discount on all offers of Budget Safari Tanzania. We will share a Discount Code with you that you can use with the online booking of your safari, Kilimanjaro climb, excursion or watersports activity.

Learning Swahili in Sansibar!

Swahili TeacherIt is always helpful to know Swahili while doing your project here. Swahili is a relatively easy language to learn. With our one-to-one teacher, after a short time, most learners are able to do basic conversation. You can choose the intensity of the lesson. If you are volunteering or doing an internship, we recommend a maximum of ten hours per week. 
The cost for Swahili lessons: 1 Student - 10 EUR
Groups of 2 or more people can join language lessons with an NGO at a rate which is a little cheaper per person!
Please check "Language Training Required" in the registration form, specifying the desired duration (minimum 20 hours).

Travel Health Insurance

We recommend the following travel insurance that is meant specifically for participants of internships, volunteering, language study, working holiday, and courses abroad. It is available for travelers of all nationalities and usable for all countries, except your home country. You can also add a liability and travel cancellation insurance.
Just click on the link, fill in the form and you will get an immediate booking confirmation.
Travel Health Insurance

Check out our video on Zanzibar Town!

This video shows a day in Zanzibar Town with the volunteers Sabrina and Uwe from Hamburg. They show their placements at the Cultural Arts Centre and Vikokotoni environmental group, their accommodation, visit their host family and explain various interesting aspects of their daily life in Zanzibar.

Zanzibar - Spice Island in the Indian Ocean

Zanzibar is a tropical island in the Indian Ocean. Zanzibar is about 2 hours away from the Tanzanian mainland by boat or 20 minutes by plane. When you research “Zanzibar”, it usually means the main island of Unguja. Unguja was very rich in the past, because the island was a major trading port along the sea routes between Africa, Arabia, India, East Asia and Europe. This can be seen today in the mixing of cultures, the Arab- Islamic influence, but is relatively liberal in Zanzibar. Today, tourism is the main source of income of Zanzibar, besides the cultivation of spices and tropical fruits.
Stone Town, the historic core of Zanzibar Town is the only intact historic coastal trading town in East Africa. Within the fascinating labyrinth of narrow streets full of small shops, souvenir shops, restaurants, hotels and hectic smaller places, it feels like one is in a dream of the "Thousand and One Nights”. Fantastically, there are also the heavenly white beaches and crystal clear waters with colorful coral reefs, which compete with the Caribbean or the Maldives in catering to wealthy tourists. Zanzibar Town, in addition to Stone Town have plenty of other neighborhoods like Kiembe Samaki, Mwanakwerekwe, Mbweni and others, in which many organizations have their offices and are active.
In addition, there are many villages along the beaches and in the interior of the island.
The biggest problem of the island is the overwhelming poverty of the population, whose only employment consists of cultivation and fishing for their own and thus, have no money, cannot afford education for their children, medical care, etc. A lack of education means that the following generations can hardly escape the vicious circle of poverty. Population growth, which is mainly due to immigration of people from mainland Tanzania, results in the exploitation of nature.

Things to do in Zanzibar

In Zanzibar, there is a wide range of excursions: day and half day trips include a visit to a spice plantation, the Jozani Forest National Park, the mangroves of Mungooni and Uzi, beach resorts such as Nungwi, Paje and Jambiani, a "Safari Blue”, sailing through the Menai Bay Conservation Area, Prison Island, the Island Chumbe Coral Park and a city tour of Stone Town, where there are lots of interesting souvenir shops, bars, cafes, regular concerts and even a handful of "clubs" and events.
In your spare time, you can also take music and dance lessons, yoga classes and interesting workshops by the Cultural Arts Centres participants in Zanzibar.
Many participants also travel to the mainland of Tanzania to do a safari or to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. You use our accommodation Moshi, Kilimanjaro at affordable prices to stay as a base for activities in northern Tanzania.

Getting To Zanzibar

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Several airlines fly directly or with an intermediate stop at Zanzibar (ZNZ). Remember to book your flight and share with us your flight details. From Zanzibar airport, we will pick you up and bring you to your accommodation in Zanzibar.
If the flights to Dar-es-Salaam (DAR) are much cheaper, you can also fly there. From Dar-es-Salaam, you can travel to Zanzibar by a connecting flight or take the ferry. We can arrange a transfer for you from the airport to the ferry for 30 EUR/35 USD. The ferry ticket costs 35 USD and the ferry takes about 2 hours. We will take you in this case from the airport to the seaport. In Zanzibar, you will be picked up at the ferry terminal and taken to your accommodation. A connecting flight from DAR to ZNZ only takes 20 minutes and costs 50-80 USD.
If your placement is on Pemba Island, you can either take a daily flight from Zanzibar to Pemba, or you can take a ferry (Azam Marine), which however doesn't have daily departures. In Pemba you will be picked up from the airport or ferry port and brough to your accommodation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are there fixed start dates for the project, which I must adhere to?
No, you can arrive at any date and you can hence, plan your trip according to your availability and the prices of flights. We can pick you up from the airport even at night.
Can I stay longer at my accommodation after my volunteering/internship or arrive earlier?
Yes, this is possible and we will give you our best rates. Just let us know when you arrive and leave and we will let you know the costs.
During my stay, can I travel around the country?
Zanzibar is a relatively small island, and you can use public transport during the weekends to travel throughout the island; such as to the beaches of the north and east. In Moshi and Zanzibar, we ourselves often offer day trips, such as to Kilimanjaro or the national parks, for which you can join other volunteers and interns when you travel there. We share these trips with you in our monthly subscriber list and you can book them. Participants often organize on-site travel together. In Moshi and Zanzibar, you can stay at the same low rates as our Zanzibar or Moshi participants in accommodations provided by us. If you plan to travel during your volunteering/internship period, you should seek permission in advance. We recommend that you plan your travel after your volunteering/internship. For this, you can also stay longer in your accommodation at affordable rates.
Is it safe to travel in Zanzibar alone as a single female traveller?
Approximately 80% of our participants are female and many of them, only about 20 years old. Not a single instance of a serious security breach has occurred. Our coordinator will advise you on how you should conduct yourself in order to avoid problems - your dressing style, valuables, and in dealing with local men. Our preparation materials elaborate on this matter. If you follow these basic rules that apply equally to many other places, the risk in Zanzibar is not great.
Will I be the only volunteer/intern in the project or in Zanzibar?
The total number of participants that participate simultaneously with an organization depends on the size and activity of the organization and responsibilities of volunteers/interns. We try to avoid too many volunteers/interns in an organization at the same time. It may be that you are alone in your work site, but usually there are, throughout the year, other participants in Zanzibar, who you can meet in your spare time, if you desire so. Zanzibar Town is a small town, where you walk around quite a bit. In addition, there are well-known places such as the Forodhani Gardens, where you actually meet other participants. If you are in a different place (Nungwi, Mungooni, etc.), the probability is higher that there are more participants from us. You can access these places relatively quickly by public transport from Zanzibar Town, if you want to meet other participants of your country over the weekend. We also have regular meetings with all participants and you will get a list of participants who are in the country, with their contact information. You need not be concerned that you are "alone" in Zanzibar, nor must you stay away from the locals because you spend all your time with other foreign participants.
What vaccinations do I need?
Our Info-PDF that you get as a participant, gives detailed information on health care. Also refer to Recommended Vaccinations
Where do I live?
Please find details in the tab "Accommodation".
Can I choose my accommodation?
We give you choices (Most popular!, Comfort +, Adventurer) and you can tell us if you prefer a shared accommodation or homestay; we will then seek an accommodation for you. We organise accommodation, taking into consideration the distance from your work site. However, since Zanzibar is not a very big town, is relatively easy to reach locations in other parts of the city by public transport ("Daladala") or by bike.
How free or bound am I in my accommodation with the host family?
With the host family, you can have your freedom, and do not need to join them during meal times or have any other obligations. If you will return late in the evening, you need to let them know in advance, so that they can unlock the doors for you (which are locked at night for security reasons). Bringing home casual acquaintances is taboo. They look to integrate our participants into their family life, but you can determine to what extent you want to be part of it.
Does my accommodation have internet facilities?
In Tanzania, Internet is accessed via the mobile phone networks. With smartphones, you can use the Internet. For laptops, there are USB modem sticks for about 10 EUR. There are no flat rates; you use data packets, depending on your needs. You might consume 2 GB of data in a week, which costs about 4.50 EUR. In the centers of cities (Moshi Town, Dar-es-Salaam, Mwanza, Zanzibar Town, Karatu, etc.), the connection is good, the speed is satisfactory and sufficient for Skype phone calls. In the suburbs and in the country, there is connection, but usually almost impossible or very slow and unreliable. We will provide you information on the use of mobile Internet in Tanzania.
How can I do my laundry?
In general, laundry is washed by hand in Tanzania. You can ask your landlord or host family if they have someone who can wash your clothes. Usually, someone offers that to you for a small fee. Please ask your local supervisor, what the appropriate thing to do is.
I am a vegetarian. Can I get vegetarian food?
Host families are familiar with participants who are vegetarians and prepare appropriate food. In some restaurants in Zanzibar Town, there are vegetarian options. In the market, there are a wide variety of vegetables and fruits. Special dietary needs (e.g. Vegan, allergies to certain foods) can be specified to the host families.
What language skills do I need?
You should be able to make yourself understood in English. The national language of Tanzania is Swahili, but knowledge of English is widespread, especially among people who have a better education or work in tourism. In everyday life, there is usually no problem to be able to communicate in English; if you should come across someone who can not speak English, you can almost immediately find someone who offers to translate in English. If you are in a social project for a longer duration, you will have to deal with people who have little or no education. For this, it is useful to acquire at least a basic knowledge of Swahili before your arrival through any book (or audio CD). You can also take basic Swahili lessons while on site. We also have vocabulary lists with useful words that can help you.

Our Partners

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