I am pleased to write to you from Zanzibar, where our final group of the year to the island, Uddingston Grammar School, have had a fantastic first weekend.
I arrived myself on Friday last week to carry out some last-minute preparation with Samson and our in-country team ahead of their arrival. We are delighted to welcome Emani to our Zanzibar team, who specialises in logistics and will be working with us to ensure the day-to-day operation of our programme runs smoothly.
The group of 19, who have been working hard over the past 12 months to fundraise their trip costs, arrived in Zanzibar after an exhausting three flights from Glasgow. Despite the intense travel, the group arrived in great spirits.
To their great credit, the majority of the students have fundraised their entire trip costs in order to come on the trip. I always admire those that have shown the creativity, enthusiasm and motivation to raise their own costs because it feels as if they have earned their place. Take nothing away from those who are fortunate enough to not need to fundraise but the added skills learnt through fundraising/working undoubtedly mean that the benefits of a trip like this stretch all the way back to the point of sign-up.
For a couple of Uddingston’s students, this trip is also their first venture outside the UK, so even the stray cow walking in the road outside the airport proved to be an early point of interest!
After Samson’s orientation, the group headed straight on their Taste of Zanzibar weekend with the first stop at one of the island’s many spice farms. Ali, another of our In-Country Co-ordinators in Zanzibar, led the way and eloquently described the incredible range of produce – from cinnamon and nutmeg to ginger and lemongrass – to the team.
We then headed east for a one-night stay at a beautiful lodge facing the Indian Ocean. The weather was perfect and gave the students a great chance to relax after a long couple of days. They also had the following morning to explore the nearby area before we travelled to bustling Stone Town for a tour of its most famous historical sites. Stone Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is a unique hybrid of Arabian-African culture. Tall, narrow buildings surround some of East Africa’s most famous monuments and the smells of fresh street food constantly wave around the bustling markets. Ali once again did a tremendous job of describing some of the sobering history of the island at the town’s infamous slave fort. Whilst it is a saddening part of the tour, it gives visitors an unparalleled insight into the suffering endured by Zanzibar’s past generations.
As the tour drew to a close, we headed back to the main accommodation for the trip for an early night’s sleep. The group has had a relaxing weekend but they are well-prepared for the hard work that starts at the projects tomorrow!