A proud former Hartlepool College student has returned home after helping to improve the lives of people in one of Africa’s most deprived areas. Adrian Gray, who completed his Level 3 Carpentry apprenticeship at Hartlepool College of Further Education, used his skills to help build toilets and water sanitation in Tanzania – assets which will not only change the lives of the recipients but literally save them.
The 21-year-old set off on his three-month adventure of a lifetime in September, and returned to the north east last month with a wealth of experience. Along with 95 other UK volunteers Adrian travelled to Dar es Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania but very much a place of social division. While the city is an important centre of business, it also has the highest population of any in East Africa and, according to United Nations estimates, around seventy percent of the city's population lives in slum conditions with no regular access to utilities.
Adrian took part in two projects, Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and Livelihoods. His team consisted of eight UK volunteers as well as eight Tanzanian volunteers. Children were taught about the importance of sanitation and hygiene as toilet blocks were built for a local dispensary. For the duration of his stay, Adrian lived with a local family, which included six children. He said: “It was very basic living and quite chaotic. I had to adapt to no electricity, getting water every day from a well in the garden as well as a bucket shower outside without a door or roof. The toilet was scoop, flushed with water from the well.”
Before Adrian embarked on his adventure he managed to raise £800 by gardening, doing household tasks for friends and various other activities. He also sold his own carpentry and wood-turning gear so he could go out to improve the lives of people in Tanzania, and also help other young people to go on the same journey. He added “This was an eye opening experience and it made me appreciate the things we take for granted.”
Adrian was able to take part in the project through International Citizen Service (ICS), which is a programme that enables 18-25 year olds to volunteer overseas. Now that Adrian has returned, he hopes to take part in further action at home by raising awareness to help inspire other young people to get involved with the project and to challenge themselves to help others in desperate need.