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  • Eleni Kyriacou


In August I decided to volunteer in Zanzibar by participating in the rainforest conservation programme with IVHQ. This was my fourth time volunteering abroad, having volunteered in 2016 and in 2017 in Sri Lanka, Cambodia and Nepal. This was probably my best experience overall of all the volunteer programmes I have done abroad, undeniably because of how great the people were. I obviously hadn’t been able to volunteer abroad for a while because of the pandemic and this programme in Zanzibar was much needed. The change in environment, culture and people was invigorating. It was also a good time to get away as Greece was suffering heavy bush fires and Athens was heavily polluted with smoke as a result, and dangerous to be in at that time.

The end of a day farming

The programme consisted of various jobs, serving not only the environment but the local community too. We planted trees in the rainforest and did a lot of farming, helping the locals with their farms. We taught in local schools where one activity included teaching the children a lesson on the importance of trees, followed by planting trees in the school playground. We helped at the wildlife sanctuary where turtles and tortoises are protected, this included trips to a coastal area where we collected seaweed followed by us returning to the sanctuary via bicycle and feeding the tortoises some of the seaweed we had just collected. We also collected plastic that littered the local village and tried to recycle as much as we could.

A day teaching: Why are trees important? followed by tree planting

A day helping tortoises: Seaweed collection and then return to sanctuary via bicycle

On weekends we were free to enjoy ourselves. Our outings included days at the beach where the famous, historic Maasai tribe from the Tanzania mainland visit in the summer and sell crafted objects they make, such as jewellery to tourists. I was blown away by how fantastically dressed they were. I loved the textiles and jewellery they wore. They performed one of their ritual dances in front of me, which included their ‘high jumping’ a ritual competitively aimed at proving to be the best suitor for marriage. We also went on trips to Stone Town where we saw locals dancing and performing, casually displaying their musical and physically agile brilliance. I also met a weaver in Stone Town who let me film him on his manual loom making beautiful towels that he sells to tourists.

The Maasai

Maasai Dance

Zanzibarians Dance in Stone Town

Zanzibarian Weaver in Stone Town


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