Read the previous post for my time in Zanzibar… this is all the questions I’ve been thinking of from conversations with volunteers and locals…
Some of the other travelers had been taking a little holiday in Zanzibar from there volunteer work in Moshi- a little town that serves as a hub for safari and climbing KILI. Turns out the “organization,” i to i is quite corrupt. It’s a company rather than a non-profit as they make a huge profit in the name of promoting cultural understanding and volunteering. The volunteers were jaded. One guy, who I sized up quickly but then thought let’s see what he’s aboutm made a blanket statement, “Africans are lazy,” don’t you think? I calmly tried to offer different ways of seeing it and having only been in Tanzania for 2 days I wasn’t quite sure of anything. Needless to say, it’s a striking and powerful statement. In his eyes however, he’s come to volunteer and he often wonders why Africans aren’t helping in doing tasks as he or fellow volunteers are doing such as painting a school or doing something other than lounging around. They’ve also dealt with locals blatantly and subtlely asking for money- “give me money” is a daily thing they deal with.
How has it become that locals expect whites to give money? How long has it been? Is it that so many organizations are there that it has become assumed that whites may as well do everything? It must work or they wouldn’t keep asking, right? Are Africans ever asked what they want? Or do organizations just come in and create projects? How much has volunteer tourism contributed to Africans reliance on whites? Expectations? Do people have a lot of access to jobs? How does the government contribute? How do the people view the government? Where does all the money go from tourism visas? Why are there seperate prices for Tanzanian residents and non-Tanzanian residents? Why does everyone want me to pay in US dollars (hotels, ferries, snorkling…)? Does the US have a strong tie to Tanzania or is it simply because they “think” the dollar is strong?
I also talked with a young guy named Patrick. He came up to Jeannette and I while we were relaxing enjoying the peacefulness of the ocean waves crashing. He started telling us his story- works at night as a fisherman in his little wooden boat and a small light. I would be scared. He’s not. “What’s there to be scared of?” If he doesn’t go fishing, he takes people out during the day- snorkling or what not.
Conversation was good but there were moments I had tears in my eyes. I forsee this trip will be very emotional for me. SO much wealth in the world and yet so much poverty. WHY are there such extremes? sure it’s part of life… but I imagine a different world.
Call me a dreamer or an idealist but someone has got to believe!