JCSD is helping donate laptops to children in Zanzibar

JCSD Computer Services is helping Phase Forward to donate refurbish laptop computers and donate them to children and schools in Zanzibar, Africa.

Below is a picture of one of the laptops in a classroom, in the village of Jambiani, on the South East coast of Zanzibar.

A laptop with the teacher, Izzi and students in the school

Izzi Wren, is one of the students from a school in Abingdon, who went to Zanzibar and helped with the school for a week. Below is a short story she wrote about her experience.


Jambiani by Isabella (Izzi) Wren

As I lay on the white sands of Jambiani, a fishing village on the south east coast of Zanzibar, listening to Calvin Harris on my IPod and carefully cultivating my tan, i could not help but think i was in paradise. I had arrived a week earlier and had been greeted daily by the beautiful warm sun – a welcoming sight compared to the snow back In my hometown of Oxford.

I was intrigued though by the women of the Village, who each day trudged, fully clothed, out, at low tide, into the sea, branches in hand. What were they up to? And why were they, like me, not enjoying the beautiful weather?

Finally i plucked up the courage and asked the waiter who bought me my iced cappuccino. “Growing and harvesting seaweed” he replied. My interest aroused, i was determined to know more about this beautiful village.
I was introduced to Mr Pandu (or Mr Jambiani as i called him, he really did know everybody in Jambiani and
as i was later to learn, Stone Town). Mr Pandu is the African Director and Manager of Zanzibar Action Project (‘ZAP’), a charity based in the UK which has worked in Zanzibar for seven years.  He went on to tell me about how a group of Philippino businessmen came to the Village a few years ago and taught the locals how to grow and harvest seaweed for export to Asia. I went with one of the local women and learnt how to grow seaweed myself, one hour later i learnt this backbreaking work was not for me...

I returned to shore and thanked the ever smiling Mr Pandu; he sensed my continued interest in Jambiani and asked me if i would like to learn more about the village and meet more local people. This really was an opportunity too good to miss.

Palm TreeSchool PictureSchool internet board

Mr Pandu took me to visit the Primary and Secondary schools in the Village and i had mixed emotions when he suggested we go to speak to the Head Master of the Secondary school Mr Maabad – normally i am in trouble when i have to go to see the Headmistress of my school.

Mr Maabad was not what i expected he was very kind and welcoming and proud of his pupils and his school. He explained that thanks to the Zanzibar Action Project (ZAP) the children of the village now had opportunities to better themselves. Despite the fact that Zanzibar attracts lot of tourists, due to a lack of education and training, most of the people supporting the tourist industry on the Island are from the Tanzanian mainland.  ZAP, in order to try to change this demoralising cycle, has raised money to equip the school with textbooks, to support volunteer teachers, sponsor pupils in higher education and also to pay for training of local people to qualify as skilled tradesmen.  

Dependent on the capabilities of the children and most importantly of all, sponsorship from the West, they may follow different paths. The more ambitious children, provided they have the previously mentioned sponsorship and pass their examinations, get the opportunity to go on to higher education in Stone Town, whilst others might prefer more practical vocational training. I went to see the Ladies Sewing Co-operative in the village, which was started and is supported by ZAP;  it was like walking into a Monsoon or Jack Wills factory, the ladies produced the most beautiful clothes and scarves and sell them for a fraction of the UK high street prices.  I learnt that it takes approximately four months for the girls to be trained and there are three teachers, Hadija, Marium and Riziki.

A small Boy kneelingIzzi and a man in JambianiSchool Picture

Mr Pandu then introduced me to Mr Vuai who is Manager of the new Jambiani Community Academy, and the Jambiani Fundi Workshop, both founded and supported by ZAP, and they took me to the Academy where ZAP has an Internet Café.  The cafe raises money by charging tourists to use the internet which is put towards helping to train the local children in how to use computers. There i met a couple of the local girls, Jina and Futari. Both of the girls were waiting to hear if they had passed their exams which, sponsorship allowing, would enable them to enter higher education in Stone Town and then hopefully onto University. I was very surprised to learn from Futari that her mother makes a living from the cultivation of seaweed but equally surprised when Futari told me that she wants, one day, to become a lawyer.

Mr Vuai asked me if i would like to go with Futari and him to visit Forms V and VI at the school in Stonetown, here was another opportunity i could not refuse as i had heard wonderful stories about the “House of Wonder” in Stonetown and could sense an opportunity to see the sights as well as to learn more about this fascinating community.
In Stonetown at the school i met Subira and Riziki, two more girls from Jambiani studying to  go to University. Once the girls graduate they are keen to return to the Jambiani secondary school as teachers. I was shocked by the lack of resources they had compared to my school, Rye St Antony in Oxford. The girls had no computers or technology of any sort and had to make do with a very very small reference library which consisted of about 15 books and a blackboard. I was impressed by the girls’ determination to succeed though despite the lack of available resources and equally impressed by their commitment to return to their village once they have graduated to help the community to improve. Subira explained that provided the girls have sponsorship, they can receive lessons to help them pass the examination to go to university.

Looking back, i realised that the impression i had of Jambiani from my sunbed was not the real Jambiani. The village is very beautiful and the people very welcoming but villagers face a daily struggle to survive and make ends meet. Whilst on the surface poverty is not very visible, if you look behind the scenes you can easily find it. I learnt that the hard work of Mr Pandu, Mr Vuai and ZAP is helping to change the lives of the community by giving the children education, skills and hope but they can only be successful provided you and I donate money and  time to help them.

In July a group of girls from Headington Girls School in Oxford will be going to the village for 2 weeks to learn more about the community by befriending local children of their age, and learning about their lives.  They also hope to help them with their spoken English as well as to take a large number of laptops that have been donated by a company called Phase Forward. I would encourage all 16 year olds to contact Mr Pandu, Mr Vuai or the ZAP organisers to learn more about this wonderful village and to see what you can do to make this beautiful place a better place for the very poor people who live there and who are so eager and thirsty for more education.

Zanzibar Action Project (ZAP) contact details : This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Isabella (Izzi) Wren : This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


01491 824244 mail@jcsd.co.uk