Hakuna Matata!

Once our Spain team said Adios to Andalucia, our new team said Jambo to Zanzibar.

Zanzibar was a unique experience for us in every sense of the word. It was our first time in Eastern Africa, and like honeymooners we fell in love with everything. Our new home, Stone town, is filled with doors so intricate that it makes getting anywhere twice as long because you need to stop and admire the architecture. Every meal was another reminder of how much we adored the land, from the Samaki (fish) to the passion fruit juice, we were always in awe. The first couple days we went hiking in the forest, snorkeling in the ocean, and we shared a meal with the kids at the mosque.

We partnered up with Spreading Grace, and we were just one section of their many programs. They had the Creative Education team, who taught grades 3 & 4, we took on 5 & 6 grade; they also had a nutrition team, as well as a construction team that spent this week extending the tree house they built last year to turn it into a fully functioning classroom for the kids.

We also partnered with the Creative Education Foundation of Zanzibar: “Our mission is to provide a quality education alternative to Zanzibar's orphans and children from low income backgrounds, whilst building the capacities of local teachers.”

The bond between the CEF kids and the Spreading Grace members was apparent from the start. They have been working together for 4 years now, and a lot of the teachers have watched the kids grow up. It was a beautiful reunion, and then we started working. We had a couple of challenges. We only had 4 days (usually we have 5) to brainstorm, write, shoot, and edit 2 short films. And, we were teaching both arabic and english at the same time. We have never made movies in arabic, but luckily all our teachers and filmmakers were bilingual.

Our team of super-directors pulled a couple of all nighters to get it done, but the results were fantastic. The kids’ reaction to their movies were priceless, and they each gave an oscar-acceptance speech. Some of our favorite quotes from their speeches were

  • “Thank you for teaching me slowly until I understood”

  • “Now I know we have to go to the town, city or village to get the news”

  • “My favorite part of the week was all the dancing”

  • “I learnt that movies are made in small scenes and then they are put together after”

Zanzibar was the last program of the summer, and it was also the shortest program we’ve ever done. It was our first Arabic program. The first time we were part of a larger program. It was our first program in East Africa. What we have learned is that it definitely will not be our last time in Zanzibar.

Amal Bahloul