The Perfect Balance of “Home” in Zanzibar

Zanzibar is one of the most BEAUTIFUL and welcoming places I have ever been to.  It is my first time spending more than a day on an island and I absolutely love it so far. After saying a bittersweet goodbye in Dar es Salaam to the girls heading to Arusha, we hopped on the Kilimanjaro II. The journey to Zanzibar was beyond beautiful – and from our week and a half here, I must admit defeat to the beauty of this seemingly crumbling, diverse, and ever-growing city.

Ruby Sniderman and Olivia Marshman on board the Kilimanjaro II

Ruby and Olivia waiting for the Kilimanjaro II

Firstly, our homestay families are just fabulous! Ruby and Olivia are living with a young couple and new born baby while I have the privilege of living with a large family where there two oldest daughters speak English. I was a little worried at first about the language barrier and using a squat toilet but, I am finally starting to understand the language. The food Mama Mwana  and my host sister Laila cook is delicious as is all the food you can find in Town. Abdul and Sabra (the other family) speak perfect English, so I think I’ve found the perfect balance of “home” between the two houses.

The perfect balance of "home" between two houses.

The perfect balance of “home” between two houses.

We made a number of Mzungu and local friends which has been quite helpful. Every time we walk down the street we get harassed by vendors and taxi drivers – that should subside over time – so having local friends lets us do things for local prices. We’ve been to the Zanzibar Youth Forum office, met our Emerging Leader students from ZANGOC and spent lots of time in Stone Town doing research for our long list of things to be accomplished. Our first few days were spent orienting ourselves to Mwanakwerekwe (the neighborhood in which the office and our homes are located) and Stone Town. Everything is moving at Zanzibar standard Time” “pole pole” which is hard to adjust to, but a great change from the fast-paced Canadian lifestyle I grew up with.


Shivani and Ruby at Forodhani

Amidst the research and scheduling we’ve managed to have lots of fun. The daily night market has the BEST and cheapest food I’ve ever eaten. Among delicious eats are Mishkaki, Zanzibar Pizza, and Sugar Cane Juice (with or without ginger, depending on your preference). Zanzibar pizza is not really pizza, but this paper thin dough stuffed with meat, vegetables or seafood – a must try. The Sunset from Mbweni Ruins is one of the most fabulous ones I have ever witnessed, while jumping off the deck into the ocean. Lastly, the beaches and Bush Babies (Lemurs) on the East Coast are to die for.


The Sunset from Mbweni Ruins

We are expecting to start Emerging Leader classes this week as well as create a draft of discussion questions for our panel in Central Zanzibar regarding youth voice in the constitutional review. After the week is over we will be heading to Kendwa for the Full Moon party. Clearly we are having more fun than anticipated – but we are also somehow managing to accomplish working in the bright, beautiful paradise.

My team and I in the beautiful Zanzibar paradise.

The full team in Dar es Salaam for orientation

– Shivani Achrekar, Youth Ambassador, Tanzania 2013

To read more about YCI’s programs in Tanzania, click here. To read more blogs from our volunteers in Tanzania, click here.

YCI is currently recruiting for a number of projects in Tanzania this Winter- check out our Program Calendar for more information!


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