Volunteer work in Tanzania, Arusha - Has anybody heard of MICATZ?

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MadsFonseca
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Volunteer work in Tanzania, Arusha - Has anybody heard of MICATZ?

Hi,
I am looking in to moving to Tanzania in September to join a project at the Faraja Orphanage in Arusha.
We will be doing it via a NGO called MICATZ (Maasai International Challenge Africa).

Have anyone ever been in Arusha? how's the city like? is it dangerous? did you feel safe?

Have anyone heard of MICATZ and know what it's like to work with them?

What about the Faraja Orphanage?

I would appreciate if you could share your experiences with me.

Thanks!!
Madalena

flukes
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Re: Volunteer work in Tanzania, Arusha - Has anybody heard of MI

Hi Madalena,

Know this is a bit late in the day for you, as it's already september, but I'm actually out volunteering with MICATZ at the moment! I'm not in the orphanage but there have been a few others who are or have been and I think they've all really enjoyed it, though it sounds like it's been quite challenging at times! There aren't so many children who actually live there - most come in for lessons everyday where you can help in the mornings and then either take the afternoon off or play with the kids in the afternoons.

As for MICATZ, the volunteer house we have is really good. Small, but not too out of the way and with one of the best electricity supplies in Arusha! The foods also great and we have free use of the internet in the office in town. This being Africa, of course things never go smoothly all the time and there've been some minor issues, but compared to many organisations, they're not too bad!

Arusha's also quite nice. Obviously great for safaris but there's a bit to do in the town itself. People do get mugged sometimes, but it's easy to be careful about taking nothing with you except a phone and a little money as long as you get back before dark, most people have no problems at all.

Hope that helps a little. Are you going to come out do you think? If you arrive before the 15th then we should meet each other!

Peggy

mholsch
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Joined: 02/02/2012 - 02:24
tanzania

Hi Peggy,
I want to volunteer this august-december in Tanzania (staying in Arusha), I was wondering about the things you can do in Arusha. Also if the weather this time a year is good for volunteering, or if it is to rainy. Tell me about your experience, I will be volunteering in an orphanage, how are the people there?? are they welcoming?

godfreytz
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Last seen: 10 years 7 months ago
Joined: 03/04/2012 - 10:20
the weather in sept-dec is

the weather in sept-dec is very good here in arusha, people are very friendly here, but walking at night 9pm by foot is not good here,they may robb you in some street.
you asked about doing something? What do you mean a job or bussiness.
Arusha is almost same weather as europe, cold at night,no too much diseases as other place in tanzania with hot weather.
Hope it will help you. If you come just sms me i will help you while here in tanzania.i will show you how you can reduce cost why leaving here if you want to travell may be mount kilimanjaro,going to game reserve,beaches or historical sites.
Godfreytz@yahoo.com or +255766335391

case8112
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Re: Volunteer work in Tanzania, Arusha - Has anybody heard of MI

It sounds like you have quite the adventure waiting for you. I hope that you are able to get everything in order for your trip. Are you going to send back some sort of photo cards while on your trip? Good luck and I hope it all works out for you.

SammyD
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Joined: 04/20/2012 - 17:29
MICATZ?

Florenica, I am going through the exact same thing with Edward and his bank account email..I just found this http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=2127067
-but you never know whether the people with negative comments aren't just competitors?
Were you able to find out anything else?

Any infor would be much appreciated - as for me it is very Urgent and I'd have to book within the next 1-2 days!! (crazy I know - trip plans had a cancellation)

Palomita
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Joined: 04/23/2012 - 18:27
Tanzania Micatz

Hi.. Im going to Tanzania in Agust to Volunteer with Micatz. Im at the lever where it comes to pay and im still not 100 % about micatz so i would like to get as much info as i can, good and bad ones.. Is there a way we can keep contact on FB or Email true these months before we leaving in Agust and maybe during the Volunteer time.. Always good to know more people when u travel so far from home And also if anyone wanna go on a Safari trip we could go as a group or just meet if we are in the same City. As im traveling alone :)

ktjvh
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Joined: 06/08/2012 - 03:41
DONT USE MICATZ

From my personal experience I must warn you NOT to use Micatz, I know this thread is a few months old but hopefully the next person to think about booking with Micatz will read this and choose a different company. My friend and I, both 19 year old students from Australia worked all summer to save for a month long trip to Vietnam including volunteer work. We chose to go with Micatz because of their competitive rates. WHAT A MISTAKE. They sent us several emails over a few days regarding payment and that we must pay immediatly. We did, $700. Two days before we were to leave in January Edward from Micatz emailed me cancelling our volunteer work. He promised a refund within 8 weeks and I provided my bank details. It is now June and I have been emailing Micatz daily, with my bank details and trying to get in contact with them over skype and through their contact numbers. My attempts to contact them have either been ignored or filled with empty promises. Edward always seems to have an excuse for why the refund cannot be made or just simply ignores my emails all together. So please DO NOT BOOK WITH MICATZ. It is not worth the risk for them to take all your money. I am posting this on as many message boards that I can find regarding Micatz to alert all other potential volunteers to not use them, I have already lost my money but it doesn't mean others should to.

Tom1992
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Joined: 06/16/2012 - 21:10
OH NO!

This is terrifying.
I am flying out to Tanzania in two weeks to work at a School/Orphanage in Nungwi Tanzania.
I have already paid Edward.
But since paying he has been in contact less.
I hope this all goes to plan. My flights are booked, I'll be going whatever...

ktjvh
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Joined: 06/08/2012 - 03:41
Disregard

Please disregard my previous comment, refund has been made.

ajd87
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Joined: 07/15/2012 - 21:04
Micatz - September

I have booked and paid to go out and volunteer with Micatz for the whole of September. I was getting a bit worried as every email was about money and this thread has now worried me even more!! Although Katie I am pleased you got your refund eventually.

Is anyone else due to be out there at the same time? Palomita, Tom, Florenciana - how has everything gone for you?
Legally, is there anything we can do if it does go wrong, do you think???

Palomita
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Joined: 04/23/2012 - 18:27
MICATZ

Alice.. Im leaving in 1 week 2 Tanzania And ive done all the payments and stuff so far so good, i even been emailing them alot abut all kinds of quiestions even about what will happen if my trip gets canseld, but they told me everything is ok and the project is still going so i would be very suprised if they told me not to come one day before :O

I tried to Email florencia but she never got back to me :( So all i can say is i wish u all the best and good luck. And pls If everything goes well Pls coment here and let us now and even if things went wrong :) I will do so and i hope we can help eatchother

ajd87
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Joined: 07/15/2012 - 21:04
Hi Palomita - just to say my

Hi Palomita - just to say my email address is adarling575 @ gmail dot com (written like that to stop spam!) so please please, do get in touch!

ajd87
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Joined: 07/15/2012 - 21:04
Hi Palomita - good to hear

Hi Palomita - good to hear from you. I'm glad it's all going well. I'm surprised you didn't hear back from Florencia though as she replied to my worried email within hours! Do you have an email address I can get in touch with you through? How long will you be in Tanzania for? (Will you still be there when I come out?)

Palomita
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Joined: 04/23/2012 - 18:27
Hi again

Thats great to hear that she answered you , i emailed her twise 2 make sure but still not heard from her ? Did everything go well for her ?
At this moment im very stressed at this point i so just want to give up and find something els, its so mad organized and new things keep popping up.Different bank acc and why is the name on the Bank acc on edward and not on the organisation? Thinks like that makes you wonder ...
I will be in tanzania Dar es salaam ( Ubongo ) till December and it would be fun to meet other volunteers..I will try 2 email you and see if you get it

ajd87
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Joined: 07/15/2012 - 21:04
Long review of micatz!

Review of Micatz

This is a long review, as I wanted to detail all of my experiences, the good and the bad. I could find very little on Micatz when I was researching the company so I wanted to help those who are now in that position….

The first thing I would say, if you don’t have time to read all of this is – don’t use Micatz in Arusha. Really, I wouldn’t. Especially if you are planning on volunteering at an orphanage or school, there are so many other opportunities that would be much better organised, much cheaper, and personally, I think you would have a better time. My advice would be to contact Ujamaa Hotel (http://www.ujamaahostel.com/index.html) as they offer all types of volunteering opportunities and the hostel is a lovely place to stay. Although it is not one of the cheapest hostels in Arusha, your overall cost will still work out much cheaper than paying Micatz!!

The last section of this review details the specific problems I had in my dealings with Edward. Before this, I discuss the project, my living arrangements, Arusha, and the safari.

However, if you have already booked with Micatz – don’t worry. I had somewhere to stay, and I had a project set up for me.

The project:

I was a legal aid volunteer with a charity called Awlahuric – they deal mainly with women and children’s human rights law, providing legal advice, teaching people about their rights, accompanying individuals to court as support, and undertaking research on different areas of Tanzanian law. The lady who runs the project, Martha Lyimo, is absolutely lovely – so kind and helpful – as, in fact, are all the people who volunteer there. Awlahuric is entirely staffed by volunteers.

My working day was from 9.30am to 5pm, with a 2-hour lunch break as I had to return home for lunch – this was a half hour walk away (more on living arrangements later). The office at Awlahuric is very small at the moment and I would suggest it is unlikely that there will be any other foreign volunteers there at the same time as you.

The first few days were spent just talking to Martha about the Tanzanian legal system, with me providing information about the English system. Then, for the remainder of my time, I was working on two ten page (each) research proposals on issues relating to juvenile justice in Tanzania. I used the Internet to research the proposals and then wrote them up on a laptop provided by Martha. It probably would be helpful if you brought your own laptop, but it’s not necessary. I found the research extremely interesting and really enjoyed my time at Awlahuric. If you don’t speak Swahili, there is a limit to the actual law you will be able to do, as all the clients will speak Swahili. The volunteers at Awlahuric were very good at translating and explaining issues to me, but I did have one long afternoon, just listening to a client explain her problems and argue with her brother in Swahili – with me not understanding a word!!

Living Arrangements

At first I was living in the home of Edward Laiser and his wife. Edward runs Micatz. This was a nice house in the Sanawari area of Arusha (north of the town centre). I had my own small room with a bunkbed, a chair, and a lockable door, with a key that I carried with me whenever I left. There was a bathroom with a western-style toilet, and a hot water shower. The living room has big comfy sofas, a television, and there is an Internet cable - Edward was very kind in allowing me to use his laptop when he was not using it. Just one point – on one night the electricity died while I was on the laptop, after Edward had gone to bed, so I was forced to leave it without logging off my email etc. When I next was able to get on my email, I discovered that Edward had, the next morning, read my emails that had come in overnight…

I received three meals a day and I must say that they were absolutely delicious. All African-style food – but why are you coming to Africa anyway if you just want to eat western food?! I ate a lot and was very impressed. What was not so nice, in my view, was that I did have to eat most of my meals by myself.

Despite being told there would be other volunteers with Micatz, I was the only one for the duration of my trip (four weeks). At Edward’s house, although they spoke okay English (Edward doesn’t speak great English) most conversations went on in Swahili and so I did feel a bit left out and lonely with nobody to talk to properly! There also seemed to be problems between Edward and his wife, which didn’t make it a particularly nice atmosphere.

After almost two weeks, I was told at about 9pm one night, that I would be moving accommodation at 9am the next morning as they were having renovations done to the house. I found it extremely annoying that there was no warning about this – I would have liked to know further in advance.

My new accommodation was a hostel called Raha Leo – this was only about 5 minutes walk from the legal aid project so was good for that reason. The rooms in the hostel were nice with mosquito nets. However, the basic rooms only have shared toilets – these are squat toilets and the floors were always soaking wet. The shared showers, however, were extremely warm and very forceful!! I ended up upgrading myself to a room with a private toilet – this was a proper western toilet. The hostel was mainly frequented by Tanzanian visitors, and only one man that worked there really spoke any English at all. This did cause some problems later on…

Despite being told by Edward that food would be served in the hostel, it turned out that only breakfast was served, and therefore I had to eat in a restaurant opposite the hostel. The food here was okay but not great. For four meals in a row, I ate fish and rice with sauce. The fish complete with all the bones – I did get a bit fed up of picking the bones out!!!
Arusha

There are a lot of expats and volunteers in Arusha, if you know where to find them. I made my friends at Ujamaa hostel. However, it is not a particularly safe town, and everyone I met had stories of someone they knew that had been mugged. Never, ever, walk anywhere at night – ALWAYS take a taxi, even if you are in a big group. Try not to carry a bag during the day if you are walking anywhere, I was with my friend at 9am on a Sunday morning and two guys ran out and grabbed her bag, pulling her to the floor in the process. The crime is mainly theft, so as long as you don’t have anything worth stolen, or take taxis, you should be fine.

Safari

I had also booked a safari with Micatz and was slightly worried about this, but it all turned out okay in the end. We went to Lake Manyara, Ngongoro Crater, and Tarangire National Park. Tarangire was incredible, and I saw lots and lots of animals. I must say that the safari guide was really not good – I don’t think he pointed out a single animal to us so I think we missed a lot – especially in Ngongoro where we saw barely any animals. However, I didn’t mind as we had such a good day in Tarangire!

Problems with Micatz – Edward Laiser

Micatz basically is Edward Laiser. And I think his manner was the main factor in causing the problems with my trip and the reasons that I wouldn’t advise using Micatz. I felt that Edward was actually quite rude towards me. A lot of things he told me turned out not to be true, and I when I challenged him on this, or asked why what he had said wasn’t the case, he would turn on me and be extremely rude. He didn’t really seem to realise that I had paid him to do a service, and kept telling me that I didn’t appreciate everything he had done for me. One text said: “I have been so much useful, I don’t know if you know it and appreciate it.” He had not done anything beyond what I had paid him for – i.e. sorting out accommodation and food for me.

1) I was told there would be other volunteers there at the same time as me. There weren’t. I was then told some would be turning up in the middle of my time in Arusha – they didn’t.

2) I was told that the fee I paid included transfers to and from the airport. I arrived in Arusha by bus and was made to pay for the taxi, I was then also told that I had to pay for the taxi to the airport on my way home – this would have been around $50. As I was flying Precision Air to Dar es Salaam, I could instead use a transit bus for the equivalent of about $6

3) I was told food was served in the Raha Leo hostel – it wasn’t. I was then told that they used to serve food there, but no longer did.

4) I was told that Micatz often housed their volunteers in the hostel – except, at Raha Leo, they didn’t seem to know Edward or anything really about Micatz.

5) I was told all my meals had been paid for in the restaurant (I had paid Edward in advance for three meals a day). They weren’t – this meant that often I arrived, sat down to eat, and then had to phone Edward and wait for someone to come and pay. This wasn’t a huge deal, but it did get annoying the third time it happened.

6) More annoyingly – my room in the hostel hadn’t been paid for every night. So when I got up to leave for safari at 7am, with the safari car waiting outside, I wasn’t allowed to leave, as Edward hadn’t paid. I had to wait for Christopher (who works for Micatz) to come down and pay. This took half an hour, during which time, the other people also going on safari had to wait. Everyone was not very happy about this. I got very angry with Edward on the phone, saying that this was not good enough, and was told to “stop being so emotional”. I was also told, “try to understand other side” – I am not sure what the other side is in this situation! He told me that I should appreciate that in an “emergency” he sent someone immediately to sort it out. I take issue with this, as it was not an emergency, it was his business messing up, and so the least they could do was send someone to sort it! It was not going out of their way, and if they had done their job in the first place, there would be no need.

7) I was also told that two other volunteers with Micatz would be going on safari with me, and staying at Raha Leo the night before. These people never materialised…

So – in conclusion – everything I had paid for did happen (other than the transfers to and from the airport). However, it was a lot of hassle to make sure it was all paid for, and Edward is not a particularly nice person to deal with. The reason for using a company like Micatz rather than organising things yourself, is to ensure that everything is sorted and to make things easier for you – this really wasn’t the case. It would be much easier and cheaper, in my opinion, to go to a hostel that has connections with volunteering projects. I was also extremely lonely due to the fact there were no other volunteers, and at Raha Leo, no other English speakers at all!

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