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My CV in links – and a bit more about me and what I do

My CV in links – and a bit more about me and what I do published on No Comments on My CV in links – and a bit more about me and what I do

I work as head of research, education and training at the NGO I founded in Zanzibar, Sustainable East Africa.

My work at Sustainable East Africa

The Sustainable East Africa website is coming soon. But until then…

Like the SEA facebook page for regular project updates and photos

Follow @SustainableEA on twitter

Follow Sustainable East Africa on LinkedIn

Like SEA’s partners the Prospective Learning and Charitable Institution on facebook

Volunteer with Sustainable East Africa in Zanzibar through World Unite!

Article about SEA (and me!) at volunteerleaders.org

Other activities and interests

I am a Rotarian, and member of the Rotary Club of Zanzibar – Stone Town: Facebook and Twitter

I am a scuba diver and in Zanzibar I dive with One Ocean in Stone Town / Matemwe, Scuba Do in Kendwa and Swahili Divers in Pemba

Some CV highlights in links

I was community outreach project coordinator at Chumbe Island Coral Park, Zanzibar, Tanzania (2010-2011)

I consulted for the IUCN Species Survival Commission Shark Specialist Group (2009)

I have a research masters in Tropical Marine Ecology from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada (2005-2009)

I worked for nature conservation NGO Fauna & Flora International (2000-2004)

I read Marine Biology and Zoology (Joint Honours) at Bangor University in North Wales, UK (1997-2000)

Using the Power of T-shirts for good

Using the Power of T-shirts for good published on No Comments on Using the Power of T-shirts for good

If the last post showed us anything, it’s that T-shirts are more powerful in Zanzibar than you might have imagined. But this power can be used for good as well as ill, and as little as $25 can have a huge impact if spent with a little imagination.

Let me explain.

Last October, students volunteering with Sustainable East Africa (the NGO I run) helped establish an Environment Club at a local charity school, PLCI – the Prospective Learning and Charitable Institution. The student-led club was very enthusiastic, and excited to start new projects.

Christmas was approaching, and I was finding it hard in Muslim Zanzibar to get into the Christmas spirit. Specifically, I was struggling to create the Christmas spirit in my flat, as there was an almost complete absence of anything remotely Christmassy available in the shops.

I had researched techniques of upcycling soda cans, and was inspired by this instructable to get creative. I figured I was probably not the only foreigner in Zanzibar looking for a bit of Christmas spirit, so I showed the idea to a group of artistic volunteers and we came up with some designs for making Christmas decorations from soda cans. Would the PLCI environment club be interested to see if they could raise a few shillings from ‘taka taka’ (trash)? They would indeed!

So now all they needed was a few pairs of heavy duty scissors, some empty soda cans, and their imagination. A $25 donation from the Rotary Club of Zanzibar, Stone Town supplied the scissors, and with guidance from World Unite! volunteers Sabrina, Anne-Sophie and Lucas, the students got started!

And my goodness it was a success! They worked rapidly and enthusiastically, and soon turned out designs. At first they just copied the models the volunteers had made, but once they got the hang of it, they started creating new designs based on traditional henna art patterns. We took them to sell at the Cultural Arts Centre, Zanzibar, another Sustainable East Africa partner (opposite the Hamamni Baths, if you’re in Stone Town) and they sold like hot cakes.

Christmas at the cultural arts centre

We were by now only a couple of weeks from Christmas – this year we will start earlier – but in that short time, the students managed to raise over 100,000 Tanzanian shillings (around $60) – more than doubling the investment.

Their pride was amazing. These students are almost all living in extreme poverty. The minimum wage was, at the time, 70,000 shillings a month, and that’s if you have a job: unemployment is around 50%. Family size is typically at least five children. Money is scarce, and livelihood options for young people bleak. For them suddenly to have money in their pocket that they had earned for themselves was beyond imagination.

So what did they decide to spend it on?  CDs? Sweets? Sodas?

No. Not PLCI. They decided to spend it on buying school T-shirts – their school uniform – for themselves and other students.

These T-shirts were a symbol of achievement, of pride, of hope, and of identity as members of a club that had shown them for the first time that earning themselves a living could be within their reach.

For $25 investment in scissors, this is priceless.

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