Giving back to the village

Our projects in Chuini: supporting the local community through special projects working within the local council

Marina and Haji are naturally bonded to the local community: supporting through special projects and collaborating within the local council.

Dispensary and Medical Mission 

Up until June 2013 Chuini had no dispensary. Instead the 15,000 villagers relied on Witch doctors, amateur practitioners or faced the long journey to the hospital in Stone Town. Funding from the government is poor, so the villagers had to raise the money to build a dispensary themselves. Building could only start when funds were available. In March 2013, the building was still only a shell, no floors, no paint and definitely no equipment – desperately in need of completion. Mr Paul and Mrs Lyn Johnson, visitors from the UK, who were guests with us at the Mangrove Lodge had visited the still incomplete building.  They approached Marina and Haji and discussed how they would like to help. It was then they made a proposal to fund the completion of the building with Marina and Haji overseeing the work. The project started 2 months later, in May with workers being arranged, materials purchased and jobs being managed in a professional way. Haji and Marina visited other dispensaries on the island to get ideas and liaised with medical suppliers in Stone Town. In June the first doctor arrived and basic primary health care started. 

There are two key days for the dispensary. The first being the 29th of August when we held a ‘Sadaka Day’ (Charity Day) to encourage people of the village to attend a free medical examination and Paul & Lyn donated 100 kgs of clothes and hygienic items.  The dispensary was a very new concept for the villagers, so it was important to promote it amongst the neediest members of the community. 

The following day, the 30th August, was the official opening day.  The clinic was opened by the Vice President of Zanzibar who toured the facility.  The ceremony, filmed for local TV, was also attended by local government officials, Paul & Lyn as major donors (representing also Aunty Vin from England), together with the people of Chuini. Music played, songs sung, dancers entertained and speeches were made. In his speech, the Vice President said this was an excellent example of cooperation between the community, a local hotel and tourists. He particularly commended Mangrove Lodge in its involvement. A very emotional day but a very happy one! 

We continue to support the development of the dispensary through our guests with our initiatives; Pack for a Purpose and especially the Annual Medical Mission which began in 2015.  

Annual Medical Mission

In 2014, we had Ms Emily Gerardo, professional nurse from America stay with us at Mangrove Lodge. She requested a visit to Chuini clinic and it was this visit that planted a seed. While on holiday at our lodge Emily began discussion with Marina and Haji on the possibility of bringing American nurses to Zanzibar to work in the clinic. The idea was to not only treat patients but to exchange knowledge with medical staff. In March 2015, Marina and Haji hosted 3 nurses, including Emily and co-leader Ms Mandy Rodney. And so, it keeps growing and shaping in order to better serve the Chuini community. Emily and Mandy formalised in 2016 and opened their own NGO, called Baobab Canopy. They want Baobab Canopy to set themselves apart from other medical missions hosted by US companies and develop relationships with communities, performing medical missions on a yearly basis (at least) rather than once off.

In 2016 Mangrove Lodge hosted a professional osteopath and 15 professional and student nurses working out of two clinics and teaching waste management and hygiene in Chuini school.

March 2017 saw an experienced gynecologist and almost 20 nurses work in our clinic treating patients alongside local medical professionals as well as educating patients. Outside of the clinic we had education stands on the topics of women health, nutrition and waste management. There were informative pictorial posters and nurses speaking about prevention and treatment of the relevant diseases. During their one week mission the nurses also do outreach to very poor members of the community. In 2016 they visited Sabrina, a girl born with a physical disability and donated a wheelchair to her.

In 2017, they met a young girl, Madina, with a bone deformity and are currently paying for her school fees. The group also helped two malnourished newborn twins in real difficult condition to catch up with a decent health condition.

March 2018 saw a longer mission involving with 2 groups, who also visited our True vision international community school for education and the nursing home in Zanzibar city for support. It means we were able to double the treated patients up to 800. Mohammed, 21 years old from Chuini, was supported to get treatment and finally operation to both legs caused by a bad incident at the workplace.

2019 brought 2 enthusiastic groups and we focused on education in baby care and checkups, physiotherapy, loads of clothes and reading glasses donated. All medicines are always bought locally and a great work is done at the pharmacy to help patients understand dosage and posology.

While the nurses prepare for each March medical mission, fundraising and gathering medicines and medical equipment, Mangrove Lodge organises things in Zanzibar. This involves sourcing translators, preparing the clinic, perhaps organising maintenance to ensure it can handle the influx of patients, building a shelter for the waiting people and education. During the mission, it’s all hands-on deck whilst we provide accommodation to the large group of nurses, prepare all meals and take care of the logistics for transport and extra needs. We love being involved, playing the role of facilitator and mediator.

Each medical mission is very special to us, to be able to assist the community in this way is very rewarding. It’s thanks to the American nurses for their hard work that we can give back to our community. Mangrove Lodge very much looks forward to continuing this partnership with Boabab Canopy and encourage all its guests to contribute with donations. Please help and support if you can.

Mbaru’s New House

During the 2015 medical mission Emily and Mandy donated some money to Mangrove Lodge to assist a woman they met in the village. Mbaru was her name and she is living with an intellectual disability and was in a home falling apart with no job to pay for fixing it. Mangrove lodge oversaw the project, even staff from the lodge got their hands dirty helping in the building process. The result was a beautiful home able to withstand the rainy season, and provide Mbaru with a safe and comfortable shelter.

Waste management 

Australian volunteer, Shelley arrived at the lodge as a guest only for one night, a night off from roughing it as backpacker. We all got chatting and she shared her visions for volunteering and we shared our philosophy of giving back to the village and the upcoming 2016 medical mission. The American nurses expressed a desire to add an educational element to the mission and in discussions of key issues in the village Marina expressed concerns over the amount of rubbish littering the village. We saw that this issue deserved more time than one week at the medical mission and Shelley offered to work with the village to help develop a project. The local council expressed concern over the issue too, admitting they had tried to develop a waste collection service some years ago but were unable to lift it off the ground.

Shelley was able to involved a group of young smart villagers. They were encouraged and supported to create a local non-profit organisation, Mkono kwa Mkono, with the mission to keep Chuini clean and raise awareness amongst youngsters on the importance of rubbish, safe environment and personal hygiene. They have conducted clean-ups, talking with hundreds of people around the village and finding an immediate solution to the problem, where to put the rubbish? An experienced community worker and environmentalist from Kenya, Isaac Ouma worked closely with us on the project.

Incinerators to be made out of old oil drums, all measurements engineered that if made and operated correctly, the rubbish should burn at a rate of 800 degrees. This means quicker burning than open burning and less toxins released into the air. Although not the perfect solution it is an accessible one for this community, a start. We have donated 3 incinerators and started to feed our composting site.

The group has also developed a film for awareness-raising in a creative way. The film has messages about the dangers of rubbish and what we can do to dispose of it. In July 2017, the group screened the film for the first time in Chuini village. The day was a huge success with over 150 people attending. There were people of all ages engaged in the music, theatre (with themes of waste management), waste management quiz and also our film, projected onto the wall of the school. Mangrove Lodge will continue to support the group, and with a donation you can too.

True Vision International Community School

The True Vision International Community School was opened in 2016 under the True Vision foundation NGO by a group of parents, including Marina and Haji, whose interest was to give students in Zanzibar an effective organized education model, and an inspiring, open minded environment as tools for their future.

The main idea was to provide affordable, high level education for the children of the growing working class in Zanzibar. To develop skills in a supportive, caring and innovative way instead of a threatening environment, where the children could learn and grow, develop critical thinking and talents, forming relationships with responsible and motivated teachers.

The Board members agreed to hire brilliant local teachers as the main teaching staff to secure consistency in education and a better understanding of the local culture and environment. Local teachers are supported by the dedication of the Head Teacher, by foreign volunteers and rely on strict lesson plans. The NGO in fact aims to build capacity in education starting from a professional growth of local teachers with daily training and support.

Beyond that, brilliant students with specific requirements can get a scholarship to get 50% off of the school fee. 

Currently the school, including day care, nursery and pre-k, primary, relies partly on school fees and partly on donations, through the Mangrove lodge and individual donors. 

For those who would like to have a positive impact for the island while enjoying their holidays, staying at the Mangrove Lodge is a good option as a local business caring for its hosting community.

Pack For a Purpose

Pack for a Purpose

We are proud members of Pack for a Purpose, an initiative that allows travelers like you to make a lasting impact in the community at your travel destination. If you save just a few kilos of space in your suitcase and take supplies for the projects we support in need, you’ll make a priceless impact in the lives of our local children and families. Please click here to see what supplies are needed for our project/projects.