Over the past month in Zanzibar, I have had the pleasure of getting to know an incredible American woman called Kathryn Sutton who is the director of Participate Now, a local non-profit organization. Kathryn is an amazing lady to talk with, from her history and story about how she ended up in Zanzibar, to the work that she has initiated with her NGO there. She works on grass roots development projects, only assisting those who want assistance, in a realistic and sustainable manner. Kathryn will only assist in a way that will actually be of benefit, and only where people are actively seeking assistance. Participate Now is a transparent organization, with all funds raised going directly to local projects. One of the projects that Participate Now supports is Welezo Old Age Home in Stone Town, Zanzibar. Welezo is a government funded old age home, run by three nuns; whilst there is some basic funding there from the government, Participate Now assists Welezo with additional funding to make life a little more comfortable for some of the residents.
To find out more about Welezo, or Participate Now, have a look at their website
In Stone town, Zanzibar, we walked down a narrow alley way as dusk arrived, quickly turning right and up a few concrete steps, where we left our shoes, scattered amongst many others. We were welcomed warmly into the small concrete room, and young boys began to mingle around us, adjusting their white coats and looking for hats that fitted their heads. We sat against the wall in the corner, waiting for the magic to begin, feeling lucky to have received the invite through Kathryn from Participate Now (a local NGO). It was especially magical to hear them for the first time in the setting of their rehearsal room, but equally special to hear them perform outdoors a few days later in their local neighborhood. As the sound began to emerge, it was an experience unlike any other, where the music literally grabbed one’s soul and held onto it for the entire performance. The beats coming from a used paint can lid, combined with traditional instruments and voices like angels was a chilling combination somewhere between song and chanting The ancient Islamic art form of Maulidi ya Homu is an unusual combination, being one of the only prayer groups to incorporate beats into the singing of prayer. They are a group not to be missed. In January 2007, the group traveled to Paris for their first performance in Europe. The group also performs regularly in the Sauti za Busara, an international music festival in Zanzibar.
I recently spent 3 weeks living on Uzi Island, off the coast of Zanzibar, in Tanzania, East Africa The time I spent there was documenting the Uzi Island Sea Turtle Conservation project, that is being set up by local Uzians. Aliy and Iss-haka, who are behind the project, have been working long hours not only to try and raise funding to work on their project, but also to tray and change the viewpoints of their fellow Uzians, and teach them the importance of preserving the coastline, marine life, and in particular the turtles. It's been a battle for them to try and convince the local fishermen to hand over turtles rather than killing them for food. Aliy and Iss-haka have managed to see their project come to life over the past 12 months with a sanctuary area being built for rescued turtles to live in safely until they are released. Some local tour companies have been supporting them with raising the funds to do this, and they hope to work with them in the future to provide eco-tourism tours from Zanzibar to Uzi Island. The photographs I have taken over the past few weeks will be used to build a website for the Uzi Island Turtle Conservation project, which I will share on this blog once it is launched. In the meantime, here are some photos from my time there:© Anna Fawcus Uzi Island, 2011