Spring Review of ZAP Activities

ZAP’s major fund-raising event for 2008 is a Drinks Party to be held on Sunday, May 25th at Houghton Hall in Norfolk, preceded by a tour of the Walled Gardens which have just recently received a very prestigious award. Thanks to all ZAP supporters who have bought tickets, sent donations or both; let’s hope it is a lovely warm May evening since Houghton Hall is one of the most beautiful places in England in the springtime. Tickets are still available at time of going to press; please do come and support us!

ZAP Director in Zanzibar, and undoubtedly the key person in our whole organisation, ‘Mr P’ arrives in the UK on May 4th. His trip will enable him to meet many of our stalwart supporters and to give them a direct report of all ZAP activities in Africa. As we did not make our usual visit to Jambiani in January, it will also be an opportunity to catch up together on administration matters.

To say that Mr Pandu is excited is an understatement, but it will be a huge culture shock for a man who has never been outside Tanzania – and has never worn socks in his life! He has an action-packed programme planned for him, staying first in Norfolk with the Preeces, Morrisons and Halls, and then off to London. Here he will again be among friends, and Rosey Kingzett is holding an informal party for him to meet ZAP London supporters. He has a small army of tour guides (ZAP volunteers who know him from Zanzibar) poised to show him all the touristy things, and also give him an insight into an English school (Emma) and a city office (Livs).

Then it is back to Norfolk and another reception for ZAP at Brancaster, before flying back – completely exhausted no doubt. A full report on Mr Pandu’s ‘royal tour’ will be posted in due course.

It is good to report that all these are flourishing. Our vocational students all did very well in exams and are well into their second year of training. The University graduates have settled in and getting good grades so far, and the headmaster of the Skuli, Mr Maabad, was very pleased with the results of his extra Science classes for Form IV. ZAP continues to fund the Science teacher who travels from outside the village to teach this subject.

Maabad is worried, with good reason, about the poor standard of Maths and English throughout the school, and we have begun talks with VSO Tanzania who may be able to help us with teacher training in these subjects. Meanwhile, we are delighted to report that two recently retired school teachers from Canada – Simon and Nan Oliver – are planning to live in the village for at least six months from next autumn. Both have African teaching experience; Simon’s subjects are English and Geography, and Nan’s are Art, Design and some Maths. We hope Nan will have an input into the Ladies Sewing class, and we feel that their skills and obvious enthusiasm and dedication will be extremely valuable.

The Library and Internet Café is being superbly run by Nabawia and Vivian, who encourage children to use the resources on offer, and preside over reading classes for the little ones. Though not completely self-supporting, it generates a fair bit of income, particularly in high season, and keeps ZAP in the public eye.

ZAP has always put a great deal of emphasis on sustainability, and a considerable amount of funds available has to be earmarked each year for running costs. In such a humid and salty climate, the generator – which has made such a vital difference to the clinic – Dr Hamza’s motor-bike, the school photocopier and of course the computers all need regular maintenance. Our students need help with living costs, books, equipment and travel, and daily use of the sewing room generates extra electricity bills which cannot be met by the school. It is not glamorous ‘aid’, but it is a key cost, for it represents solid commitment on our part and is much appreciated by the village whose experience of aid in the past has often been of large sums of money being thrown at projects which then wither and die through lack of continued funding.

You may have read reports in the media recently about the impact that shortages and rising costs of imported food staples is having on poorer nations, in particular sub-Saharan Africa. Zanzibar for historic reasons bases its diet mostly on rice, much of which comes from Vietnam. It worries us that all the improvements ZAP has made to education, healthcare and general employment opportunities could well be undermined and overtaken by a new poverty and malnutrition. Furthermore in Jambiani the dietary fish supplement is dwindling rapidly, probably due to over-fishing and/or demands of the tourist trade.

ZAP is continuing to provide a nourishing ‘porridge’ meal 3 times a week for 200 nursery school children, and also provides a monthly rice allowance for their teachers. But these measures are scratching at the surface, and since a large proportion of Jambiani families live at subsistence level in any case, it is distinctly alarming to contemplate a further reduction in their circumstances.

So we feel – and we are sure that you would give us your support in this – that we should not simply stand by, but should be pro-active in seeking possible solutions. One idea is to join with the Village Committee into funding research into farming methods – we could consider sponsoring an agricultural consultant to look at local issues for example. Jambiani villagers have a right to a ‘shamba’ on which to grow crops, but it is hard to exaggerate the hostile environment with which they have to contend – hardly any proper soil, just coral outcrops and lack of water. Employing someone to look at suitable sites, rainwater harvesting and storage, and appropriate crops (such as potatoes) might just forestall an impending crisis. Any ideas or practical help you may be able to offer for this new initiative would be greatly appreciated.

On a happy note to finish this report, we would like to make special mention of a lady who wants to remain anonymous, but must surely take the prize for Supporter and Fundraiser of the Year. She and her husband started planning a special anniversary trip to Zanzibar; they wanted to know more about the country and its people, and found the ZAP website. Mrs X then wrote to us, offering not only to raise money in any way she could, but to make baby clothes and collect old spectacles to take out in their luggage. Every month, she cajoles her friends and clients into supporting a particular project of ZAP, and so far, together with another close friend (who also wishes to be anonymous) Mrs X has raised almost £1000 – a truly staggering feat. It is not just the couple’s wonderful generosity, but the thought that they put into giving appropriate support, and their interest in all ZAP activities which has touched us very much. So if you read this, Mrs X – you know who you are – thank you very much, have a wonderful holiday and please don’t stop!

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