ZAP field trip - a true celebration

Field Trip October 2015

Pat, Janie and Janet had a most successful and happy trip to Jambiani.  At every stage, we encountered  a warm and genuine welcome, and departed feeling that we accomplished all we set out to do – it was a fitting finale to all ZAP’s hard work and an acknowledgement of the generosity of all our wonderful supporters throughout the past 12 years.

Prompted by Janet and Janie prior to our visit, Mr Pandu had excelled himself on the organisation front.  He had scheduled all the meetings (2 were held in air-conditioned conference rooms at Visitors’ Inn) very efficiently, and an absolute miracle occurred:  viz. every single one of the invitees turned up on time!  When Janie (trying unsuccessfully to keep the astonishment from her voice) complimented Mr P on this amazing feat, he replied that his 12 years as ZAP Manager, with Mama breathing down his neck, had turned him into a serious business man.  Not only that, but his reputation and standing in the village had risen beyond his dreams, and thanks entirely to ZAP he was now a most significant man in the eyes of all.  He really has grown in confidence, and was in cracking form.  He worked extremely hard during our visit, always there when we needed him and keeping in touch at all times.  The Managers of our hotel were very impressed with him – they thought he was a really exceptional person, and so he is.

Saturday 17th - meetings at Visitors Inn, Jambiani  (Janie, Pat and Janet)

Dr Hamza:

We kicked off with Dr Hamza on his own, who was delighted to see Pat and was in very good form (as it turned out, we saw rather more of him than we bargained for, when he ministered to Pat on his sick bed later in the week).  He showed us the Vespa that we bought him earlier this year and is his pride and joy – this was clearly a very good thing to have done.  He enjoys his new role as medical officer to the students at Zanzibar University, and as he only sees approx 10 patients a day his workload is much reduced (at Jambiani Clinic it was not uncommon to see 60-70 people each day!).

One gathers, however, that Hamza remains a significant force in the village, being the preferred port of call for a great number of Jambiani villagers who are unimpressed with the new doctors in the official clinic.  There is still a lot of resentment among the locals at his demotion, and in the evenings and at weekends he does continue to work independently from his house, particularly with diabetic patients.  It was interesting that the Blue Oyster, where Janet stayed, has Dr Hamza’s card and directions on their main notice board, rather than Jambiani Clinic.  One wonders how long the new regime will last, and would not be surprised to see his re-instatement sometime in the future.  We handed over supplies of diabetic testing strips, paracetomol and baby clothes.

Mr Topu – Primary School head, and ZAP Teachers:

Mr Topu was his usual effusive self; delighted to see us, he held forth at great length about the progress at the Primary School, closely following this – true to form – with requests for future help.  He made a point of thanking ZAP for putting useful and generous people in touch with him (via our website).

It was very interesting to meet the two ZAP teachers – Mr Jaffar Ramadhan Hassan (English) and Mr Jaffar Moh’d Issa (Maths), and we had quite an ‘in depth’ discussion with them.  Their salaries are not insignificant (about $5,500 US a year for the two);  naturally, Mr Topu is urging us to continue to employ them for a further year, and Janie wanted to make sure that they really are making a difference.  Both seem sensible, nice men – particularly the English teacher, whom Janie asked to see again at a later meeting.  One very disappointing fact we discovered is that the textbooks provided from the Ministry of Education for the English curriculum had so many mistakes in them that they have ALL been returned to the Ministry.  No news yet as to when they will be re-issued.

The Maths teacher takes Std 6 and 7, teaching all lessons in English now.  It was hard to assess him, as he was rather quiet, and unfortunately his English was not terribly impressive.  Janet handed over a quantity of geometry sets which she had cleverly sourced, and which were gratefully received, as well as pens, pencils etc.

Action: Encourage visitors/website contacts to take reading books rather than writing materials. Also needed are dictionaries, preferably Swahili/English – but also plain English Dictionaries.

Fundis:

It was absolutely lovely to see the ZAP Fundis again, really the highlight of our trip, and one got the impression that they were very pleased to see us too.   Only one was missing (a carpenter) due to work commitments.  All gave an update on their situation, and each one thanked ZAP profusely, seeming genuinely very grateful for the opportunities provided and the difference we have made to their lives.

Mohd Simai - Refrigeration/Aircon Engineer and Fundi Leader: Mohd is now teaching computer studies at WHY (Italian NGO), and doing computer maintenance work in addition to some aircon/refrigeration work, mostly in new hotels. He is also managing the WHY project to build a new nursery school in the northern part of Jambiani, and said he is proud to have learned from Mr Pandu about project management and working to help his community. 

Amour – electrician (deaf)   Amour is Mama Janie’s favourite; she still remembers querying his original selection, and Mr Pandu telling her ‘Mama, though this man cannot hear, Allah has made up for this by making him a very clever and hard-working man.  You will find this out.’  All quite true; he is exceptionally bright, and now works permanently at Spice Island resort.  He says it pays well and they take good care of him - though he never takes a holiday as he is an important man!  Janie said he must take a break for the good of his health (fortunately, much improved recently). He is doing electrical installation at two new houses in the village, in his spare time.  It seems that two of Mr Pandu's sons now work under him at Spice Island.

Janet handed over a digital multimeter/voltage testing machine with cables that he had requested.

Haji - Electrician: Haji works for an Italian company in the Kikadini area of Jambiani, currently at a big new hotel. He is in charge of all electrical installation and now has a permanent part-time job there. He has more private work than he can handle, and said that he and Amour are very famous in the area. His employers are the "New Building Company", used by many Italian people here.

Muhudini - Plumber: He is very happy that he is well qualified to use modern equipment, as this has enabled him to get a good job. He works for Hans at his new hotel, who really rates him all round, and is teaching a junior assistant there.  Also teaching Kassim (mechanic) basic plumbing.

Mrisho - Plumber: He told us it took a long time to find permanent work but now he has a job for several months.  He also helps out at the garage at times.

Rama - Auto Mechanic: Having worked at Zanzibar airport for two years, he is now back at the garage full-time and is training a young man to be a mechanic. He also goes out to breakdowns and does repairs at customers' houses. (Note: during travels round the village Janet found out that Rama's wife runs a little shop - family business!)

Kassim – Auto Mechanic: Work is going well, and he has a student helping at the garage. Most clients are local from Jambiani, Paje and Bwejuu, plus some from hotels.  Kassim also helps out other fundis when needed on large jobs (I think, plumbing mostly, at which he has become quite adept).

Haji and Shamari - Carpenters:  They have loads of work for hotels, being extremely busy and working mainly on site at the hotel premises. Also making furniture for the new WHY nursery school. They find it difficult to take on any students when working on site but Janie urged them to make time for this, in fact she got quite kali about it.  Their success is entirely due to ZAP’s sponsorship and she told them that we expect them to pass on their skills to others.  They have given up the rented premises where they started out, and are now based at a larger workshop in Kibijiga (northern Jambiani) owned by one of their families.

(Later, Janie talked to Mr Pandu and asked him to make sure that their skills of the carpenters in joinery were being fully utilised.  The desks and chairs which we saw are fine – strong and well made, but very basic.  It would be nice to hear that they are practicing the more intricate side of their trade, since we allowed them another full year on top of basic training purely in order to learn these techniques. )

On behalf of ZAP Janie and Pat congratulated all the fundis, and said how very rewarding it is for ZAP to see how far they have come from first starting at college so many years ago. All are now married with families and nice houses – which they made sure to tell us about! It is nothing short of miraculous that there has been no fallout from among the numbers of fundis, surely in no small part due to the keen interest that ZAP has always taken in them. We thanked Mr Pandu for being like a father figure to them all, keeping a constant watch on them through their college years, talking with their tutors, running a  ‘soup kitchen’ for them all in town, organising excellent apprenticeships and encouraging them in their efforts to find work. 

Mohd Simai told us that the Fundis are all still working together to help each other - if one has a problem, they all help. They share the three ZAP Vespas between them. They look to Mr Pandu for advice, and are very proud of him and grateful for what he has done for them.

N.B.  There is a very good sign now on the Bypass indicating the Jambiani Fundi Workshop, and giving all the individual phone numbers.  Halleluja!!

Monday 19th - Nursery School and Visitors Inn meetings  (Janie and Janet)

Millat Ibrahim Nursery School:   (Julia Upton’s legacy)

Sadly Pat was unwell so unable to accompany Janie's first visit to the new school premises. It was great to see it in action.  It is well situated, not far from the bypass, and in an ‘up and coming’ expanding part of the village.  It is down quite a long driveway.  There is no security, but it seems that Form IV students from the skuli camp there each night, taking advantage of the solar-powered lighting to do their studying, and in turn keeping it secure.  The two classrooms are light and airy, if rather on the small side, and well equipped with the furniture provided by ZAP.  It could all be a bit tidier, in Janie’s opinion, and she wasn’t impressed to notice that the swing in the play area is badly broken and very dangerous which she felt should have been the teachers’ responsibility.  Mr P was asked to arrange this without delay; Janie also asked him to source some more equipment for the playground, such as a slide.

We inspected the office, the storeroom and the porridge preparation kitchen which were all satisfactory. Unfortunately the toilets were not very well kept, and on inspection there was no water in the taps for hand-washing either;  apparently, this is because there is rarely any water supply during the day in this part of the village – due to the building of new hotels in the area!!  A very sad and worrying state of affairs.  Mr P said that the students camping there at night run the water and fill some containers, but this is clearly unsatisfactory.  It seems that we must supply the large water tank which they asked us for some months ago, so that enough water can be stored for daytime use.  Mr Pandu has now come back with a price for a storage tank of 500 litres, and we have given the green light for its purchase.

We had brought parting gifts for the teachers (cash), and were very touched when they gave us presents of pretty kanga material.

Millat Ibraham Nursery School Rent – final tranche – In an official ceremony at Visitors’ Inn, a representative for the owners of the Millat Ibrahim site was given the remaining 50% of the rental for 10 years up to 2024($3,000).  An official document, including receipt of the money from ZAP had been drawn up by a lawyer, and village dignitaries including the village Sheha (chief) witnessed the signing of the document.  (Photos)

Village Development Committee:

Our next meeting was with many village representatives.  Janie delivered a speech in Swahili (written in English, translated by Mr P) which was very well received, in which she said that on behalf of all ZAP Directors she was saying an official ‘Good bye’ and thank you to Jambiani, a place where we had been so welcomed, and made to feel was our ‘second home’.  She mentioned with sadness all the people who had passed away during the past 12 years, and who had contributed so significantly to our work in the village.  Janie said that she was happy and grateful that ZAP had made such a difference to so many people in Jambiani; this had been achieved by working ‘bega kwa bega’ with local people, whose culture and traditions we respected very much.  She emphasised that it had been a two-way process, and that we had learned much of value from living and working in their lovely village.   

Mr Topu made a moving reply in English on behalf of the village, and Mr Pandu handed over bags of rice to leading members of the committee as parting gifts from ZAP.

Higher Education Students:

Several former and current ZAP bursary students came to see us, as the university term has not yet started so they are at home in Jambiani. They gave updates on their studies, which are going very well; they thanked ZAP effusively for giving them the opportunity to continue their education, for our support and encouragement, and altogether changing their lives. Janie asked if they could think of one single thing which has made the difference, and they replied that the Boarding House had been the key to their success. To have this safe, secure premises where they can help and support each other – and where senior students can coach the junior ones – has had a major impact.

We also met Zakaria and Intiswar, the two students who are to receive the De Ban sponsorships for three years at Zanzibar University. Janet handed over photos of Mr De Ban and his family, and took pictures of the two students to bring back for him.

We also saw Fadhila, the student sponsored by ZAP and Penny Peck at the Nursing College who had come especially to meet us and looked very smart and mature. She has now completed her studies and work placements and expects to start work after her graduation ceremony in November. Fadhila gave us copies of her Certificates.

Tuesday 20th - Primary School:   (Janet)

Janet visited the primary school, unfortunately closed this week due to the coming elections. She took supplies of pens, pencils and chalk and Mr Topu showed her the new nursery school which has been completed and opened since Janet's last visit. Later, Mr Topu made a request for ZAP to extend our nursery school support to this new venture, but this had to be turned down.

 Janet also saw the new dining room which is under construction. Walls are completed so far, and a water supply is being installed ready for the porridge production.

Wednesday 21st - Sewing Ladies and Blue Lagoon:  (Janie, Pat and Janet)

As Pat was feeling temporarily stronger, he was able to come with us to see the new premises of the Sewing Ladies Co-operative. They are now based at the WHY premises (Italian NGO) and have an extremely impressive set-up.  It is clearly a hive of industry and Kadhija and her two assistants are in clover, busy teaching lady students and also working all flat out all day themselves.  A retired tailor has joined the teachers and the standard of work seems to have improved.  The ladies no longer have to purchase material to make things ‘on spec’ because they now get more work on commission than they can handle through WHY, who bring them orders from local hotels (mattress covers, cushions, sheets etc.).  School uniforms are also much in demand. 

It was absolutely wonderful to see what a great success the Ladies Sewing Co-operative has become – it is now a thriving business, as well as a training school.  Khadija and her helpers gave us a wonderful welcome, totally thrilled to see us and very grateful for their good fortune;  they presented Janie and Janet with bags as ‘thank you’ presents.  Altogether, this was a heart-warming visit.

Next, we were shown the classroom where Mohd Simai teaches computer studies (very large, airy and convenient), and also the Kibigija (Italian sponsored) nursery school. The latter will be moving to a new purpose-built site which is currently under construction – supervised, according to him, by Moh’d Simai.

Nabawia, old friend of ZAP and latterly employed as Mr P’s assistant, came to see us and say ‘Good Bye and thank you’ to Janie and Pat. 

Mr Jaffar (ZAP English teacher) also popped in at Janie’s request to show her some of his pupils' exercise books and to discuss his work at the Primary School.  The exercise books were very impressive – with handwriting that puts our western children to shame!  Mr Topu had told us what a huge difference Mr Jaffar and the Maths Mr Jaffar had made, and urged us to continue employing them.   This may well be possible, and would be an excellent use of the remainder of ZAP’s balance of funds.

Blue Lagoon:

Another fantastic meeting – held on the terrace so familiar to us all over the past 12 years.  As usual, the trade winds cooled us down – Blue Lagoon was looking immaculate and the gathering of Pat, Janie, Janet, Mr P, Basira, Bomba, Pai – and, to our delighted surprise, Choma  – was an extremely happy one.  Pai and Choma were in cracking form – both now married and with 2 kids each and roofs on their houses.  Pai is head waiter at Visitors’ Inn and Choma will shortly be employed as chef at a new hotel in the neighbourhood.  We handed out small cash presents, and took lots of photos.   A memorable occasion all round.

Good Bye Jambiani:

We had expected to feel sad and emotional on departing Jambiani for the last time.  But you can’t feel sad when you have been greeted at every turn by happy and grateful people, eager to let you know how different their lives have become as a result of ZAP’s presence in the village.  We felt such a sense of accomplishment – of a job thoroughly well done, despite all the highs and lows of the past 12 years.  We just hope that ALL our wonderful supporters realise what a tremendous amount of good they have done to so many, and feel as confident as we do that we leave a significant legacy behind us in this beautiful place.

There is a great selection of photos on our gallery page - do take a look here.

 


ZANZIBAR ACTION PROJECT is a Registered Charity in the UK No. 1108030