Gillian Griffin

2012 / Tanzania
International Development Management (IDM)


Gillian_Griffin_1What was your earliest volunteer experience?

Sorting food at my local food bank.

What were your first impressions when you arrived at your destination?

Mtwara is quite a rural underdeveloped town that sits on the southern Tanzanian coast. It has an air of calm and peacefulness, paired with the bustling of motor bikes about town and bicycles that ride up and down carrying anything from coconuts, to timber, to a family of five. It’s completely foreign to any Canadian city or town I have ever been to, yet I immediately felt comfortable and connected to the place.

What did you do during your Fellowship?

Part of my role was to document the work of the program in southern Tanzania through case stories, photography and promotional materials, for which I travelled extensively to different project sites and had the chance to interview various levels of staff and local people with whom we worked. The other key aspect of my work was related to working with program staff to design various training materials to assist in the implementation of our activities. For this work I had to learn the use of design software. This proved to be highly enjoyable for me and a keen interest that I am now actively pursuing.

Did you eat something that was new to you? What was it?

Ugali! A ground maize dough. Most African countries share a similar kind of food as a staple in their diets.


Do you have any advice for future Fellows?

Be open to the experiences before you. It is an exciting time! And if you’re placed in Africa, don’t pack like you’re going on an eight-month-long safari! Believe it or not there will be times when you will want to look good, so make sure you pack something other than beige.


What are you doing now?

I am working with Aga Khan Foundation as a Communications Officer in Tanzania.