Sunday, August 30, 2009


Habari from Zanzibar!

After a somewhat bumpy ferry ride on which they played Home Alone on the televisions, we made it here. This beautiful island is where I am for the next (and final) three days of my trip in Africa. They successfully eradicated malaria here on Zanzibar a few years ago, and we are learning about how that happened. This place is about 98% Muslim, so it is cool walking the streets during Ramadan. A lot of restaurants say "No service during Ramadan" or "only open after sunset." It is cool to be participating with this island in their holy month, and to not have to smell the awesome seafood cooking in the restaurants until after sunset when I am allowed to eat it too!

Yesterday was one of my favorite days of the trip. I got to take my whole team back to the place I lived when I was here in 2007. This meant an incredible reunion for me with several of my friends i have been keeping in touch with the past two years. One girl in particular saw me, and started running to give me a hug. She has had a baby girl since I was here who I also got to meet. I had no idea anyone else would even remember me, but some stuff I drew (maps of the US etc) was hanging in the office, and they showed me pictures of me in a slideshow. It was so wonderful to see everything again. And I surprised my host mother by quickly stopping by her house. She dropped everything she was holding and said "Amy?!" It was awesome. They also had just hired a slave girl when i was there before and she was terrified of me and spoke no english. She is now a beautiful 18 year old who greeted me in english! We also visited a local dispensary and my good friend Don told me he has had malaria 7 times. In the last year. I told him next time I come back and ask him how many times he has been sick, I want his answer to be zero. He laughed and said he wished that could be true. It was a wonderful day overall.

We also recently visited the town of Bagamoyo, where an innovative malaria vaccine trial program is underway. What struck me the most was the people who are in charge of the program. Most were female muslim scientists. I loved that. And really respected that that was happening.

I have learned a lot here in my time in africa about malaria and its drastic affects on communities, and I am excited to take that info back with me to the States. Next post will be from Chicago!

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