By: Jo Munnik
On the east coast of Africa lies the Zanzibar archipelago, where the locals greet you warmly with “Hakuna Matata,” the Swahili word for “no worries.”
It’s a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania that attracts spice lovers, beachgoers and snorkelers drawn to its white beaches and warm climate.
It also happens to be the birthplace of Queen’s Freddie Mercury.
Here, life’s truly a beach, and everything revolves around the Indian Ocean that surrounds it — from fishing to seaweed farming, tourism, and even exercise.
And yet, a large portion of the population can’t swim. In 2011, Zanzibar was struck by tragedy. A spice islander boat sunk and most of the locals on board drowned.
According to the WHO, 372,000 people across the world die from drowning each year, and women and children are most at risk.
But a community initiative has set out to prevent this by offering everyone, of all ages, swimming and water safety lessons.
Named “The Panje Project,” after a local fish, the organization which began in 2011, launched the swim program in 2013 with just 20 students on the northern tip of the island.