Welcome to Pemba

by Community Forests International on March 12, 2010

Hello again! I am happy to report that after two months of traveling, I arrived safely on Pemba Island yesterday morning. The journey itself, from Bombay to Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania, was fraught with some mystery sickness and a few surprise delays and missed connections.  Safe to say, I was happy to see Zanzibar when I arrived.  While in Zanzibar, I had a brief  crash course in Swahili and a few spectacular swimming sessions before leaving for Pemba. I had the opportunity to stay briefly with Akmed and Fatma and their beautiful children (watoto), Lilham and Saada. They arranged for me to enter Pemba via the “back door” on a small cargo ship that was delivering  fuel for the island’s generator in Wesha.  Contrary to what you may think, the overnight journey on the cargo ship was great. I was greeted by a friendly crew  and the most beautiful display of stars I’ve seen in years.

Yesterday, soon after I arrived, I met Mbarouk for the first time in person. He had brought Daimen and Estelle along for our long anticipated reunion.  In a flurry of embraces and unrestrained excitement  we exchanged laughs outside a stall serving octopus soup. After some introductions and a few stories, I loaded my bags into the back of the bright white pickup they had brought.

In the Mangroves

We wasted no time in getting right to the business of planting trees. We drove nearby to a school and collected the waiting students and headed to the coast to collect, and plant some Mangrove trees. Mangroves  are essential to the coastal stability of the island (preventing erosion) and provide habitat for many fish and other creatures. It is also an important fuel for making charcoal, and as such is commonly cut down.  We spent a great morning  planting with the students and MICA members in thick muck along the tidal river/bay. We were also joined by a reporter, a friend of Mbarouks who is putting together a story for a local Tanzanian television station on the mainland. She filmed the event while I snapped a few photos.  All in All a great way to start kick start my time here in Pemba; planting trees with students and friends. 

child with mangrove shoots

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