Do you want to volunteer abroad to protect our environment? Are you tired of seeing our oceans and beaches worldwide drowning in plastic waste? In their exciting report, our participants Charline, Marielle and Patricia talk about their Takataka (Swahili for „garbage“) project in the tropical island paradise of Zanzibar: Increasing plastic waste poses a serious problem for the island as well as for humans and animals living there. Read how Charline, Marielle and Patricia help to avoid garbage in a sustainable way!
Charline explains how she started the project:
It all started with a visit to the village of Charawe in the east of Zanzibar. After about a 20-minute ride on a dirt road with Mohammed, my local coordinator at the Mother Nature Forest Camp, we arrived in a small village. Charawe is relatively secluded, so no Dala-Dalas (minibuses of public transport) operate there. The living standards in the village are simple and the people in the village live rather modest lifes.
However, with its pristine nature, huge mangroves, and numerous spices coming from there, the village has a lot to offer visitors!
Unfortunately, I noticed something quite different right at the beginning: the large amounts of plastic waste scattered all over the village.
Mohammed and I quickly agreed that we wanted to make a lasting difference to this situation. We discussed our ideas and a little later had the opportunity to communicate these to the village chief. Just a few days later, the garbage in the village was to be collected on two consecutive days.
Thanks to Mohammed’s large social network, we were able to persuade another five volunteers for our venture. Together with nine volunteers, we finally cleaned up: Equipped with garbage bags and gloves we began our work. Many villagers quickly joined in, whether adults or children. In just two days, we removed three small trucks full of garbage from the village!
However, we felt that we had not done enough. On the one hand, because we still found tons of plastic garbage in the village and, on the other, because such a collection campaign as a stand-alone action is not sustainable enough.
Therefore, we decided to hold workshops in schools on the health effects of plastic and to train children in distinguishing between different types of waste. In a village like Charawe, where the population is a high percentage of children, this is especially important. In order to provide the children with additional incentives to keep their village clean, all children were allowed to choose a part of the clothing donations we had collected.
We were aware that we can not initiate sustainable changes with a one-time action. So we came back to Charawe again.
Using a self-designed blackboard that classifies the different types of waste, Mohammed and I spent another day in the village, trying to educate as many people as possible about plastic waste. On this day, we also installed five garbage cans scattered around the village. These were funded through donations, which I could collect through a Facebook call and support from other volunteers.
Four days later we came back to check the results of our action. My first impression, however, was somewhat disillusioning: The first two garbage bins that I checked were hardly (but nevertheless!) used and hardly any students at the local school seemed to have participated. Luckily, my day got a little better, as we discovered that the rest of the garbage bins had been used much more and in total 30 children from the school had collected garbage and about the same number of bags of rubbish were ready for collection.
Nevertheless, we did not want to end our work yet. Mohammed announced that we would be back in three days to collect garbage together with the children once more.
When we arrived in the village on the following Thursday I was completely flattened. There was still garbage around, but it seemd to be much less. And the closer we got to the school, the more often we discovered filled garbage bags leaning against houses. Arriving at the school me, Mohammed and two new volunteers, which I had been able to inspire to join the project, got to see the reward for our work: along the entire school building there were full trash bags! We were totally excited! Afterwards, we collected – for the time being – garbage for the last time together with the villagers. On this day again over 100 garbage bags could be removed, as well as the full garbage cans.
I think we’ve made the first steps towards life in a clean village. I hope that the villagers feel comfortable in their clean environment and will finally benefit from tourism.
In addition to the project in Charawe, similar projects have been started in the villages of Muungoni and Kitogani. The beaches Paje, Jambiani and Makunduchi will hopefully follow soon. A total of 6 garbage bins have already been installed and another 20 have been funded by donations.
Unfortunately, my time at the Mother Nature Forest Camp is now over. However, thanks to the help of my two new fellow campaigners, I am sure that this project will be continued and hope for many new volunteers who also want to fight against the plastic waste problem in Zanzibar.
Do you want to support Charline’s initiative? As a volunteer at the Mother Nature Forest Camp you can help to keep the project going!