Orphanage Placements – Volunteering in Tanzania

General Overview – There is a high demand for orphanages throughout Tanzania due to the overwhelming number of children left behind when their parents pass away due to illness and disease, including HIV. There are two main types of orphanages throughout Tanzania, day orphanages and boarding orphanages. Here, we’ll take a closer look at Orphanage Placements – Volunteering in Tanzania.

The day orphanages which are most common are run like schools where children attend during the day and go home to stay with family friends or relatives in the afternoon. Children are sent to these orphanages (prior to school) as their carers are unable to look after them during the day. Boarding orphanages run around the clock and are usually overcrowded and understaffed due to high demand and the expenses associated with running them.

Volunteers are able to feed the children, teach basic English, arts, crafts, sports, and games and assist with the overall care of the children. Orphanage work can be quite confronting but is very rewarding and the often neglected children just love being showered with attention and cuddles.

Day Orphanages – Most organizations combine day Orphanage placements and Nursery placements as the overall structure, general operation, and volunteer roles are the same along with the primary focus being Teaching English. If you are considering a day orphanage placement then please visit the Teaching Placements page for a general overview. Note also that most volunteer organizations do not combine the two so when researching be sure to find out exactly what roles you will be carrying out, especially if you have your heart set on care work within a boarding orphanage. Read more about Tanzania’s climate and tourist attractions here.

Boarding Orphanages – The boarding orphanages differ greatly from one to the next. Some are well established but heavily rely on volunteer support for their day-to-day operations while others are independently run by locals making them very understaffed and under-resourced. All orphanages have been selected professionally where volunteer assistance has a very direct and obvious impact. Availability along with individual preference will be important factors in final placement selection.

Orphanage Placements available


Cradle is situated approximately 25 minutes out of Arusha town. The babies home has been in operation since the End of 2005 and is intended for short-term care, usually 2 -3 years, after which time the children are returned to a relative or family member who is able to care for the child. Many of the children find their way to the home when their mothers die during (or shortly after) childbirth.

Fathers and family members left behind are often unable to care for the infants or meet their nutritional requirements but they are encouraged to make regular visits to the home and assist in the care of their child. There are some cases where the children have no family members to care for them so the center works with social services to find a suitable family for adoption. Like in South Africa, there’s an education crisis going on and your help is highly appreciated.


Mama Nora’s orphanage is situated in Makumira (approximately 20 minutes from Arusha town Center). Mama Nora’s orphanage provides an insight into the Tanzanian culture in all its forms. Be prepared for a very raw and emotional experience with some of the most courageous, adaptable and beautiful children you will ever meet. Mama Nora has received help from both volunteers and locals to assist her in housing, providing for and educating this happy and mischievous clan of kids.


Nesserian orphanage was started in 2011 by a local woman Mary. Mary is a qualified teacher with her diploma and several years of experience as a teacher at the School of St Jude. The orphanage is host to 32 children aged from 5 years to 17 years. The children all receive an education and their ‘home’ is on site of the school compound. If you want to learn more about Africa’s History and Heritage, check out this article.

Nesserian school offers both primary and secondary education and the fee structure has been designed so that the orphaned children’s education is subsidized by wealthier families whose children attend the school during the day. The housing arrangements are simple, offering one room for the boys and one for the girls. In the afternoons after school, the older children assist the younger ones in carrying out domestic duties so that the Tanzanian culture is preserved and to give the children the survival tools they need to be able to function in local society when they grow up. Since the children attend school during the day this placement is primarily a teaching placement with care opportunities in the afternoon.

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