Friday, December 7, 2012

Feel Good Friday - Mazingira Monkeys

Hi All,

It's Feel Good Friday #2 and, considering this is only the 2nd week I've started this, I'm pretty excited to be able to say I haven't missed a Friday yet!

Our subject today, The Mazingira Monkey Project in Arusha, Tanzania. It's the brainchild of a man named Ramadhani Juma who I met while traveling in 2007.

Hanging bags to dry.
Tired of the plastic bags that litter the streets, parks and rivers of Arusha, he decided to collect them, wash them out and then use them to stuff animals he makes and sells to the tourists who pass through town. He does this not only to earn money for paying rent, buying food and sending his kids to school but also because he knows the plastic bags are bad for the environment and the animals that eat them.

Making the animals.
Mazingira is the Swahili word for environment and the Monkey Project is run by Ramadhani and his wife. He makes daily treks into the downtown area to check on sales at the Jambo Cafe, then collect and wash plastic bags before bringing them home to dry in the sun. When he can, he asks the children living on the streets to help him pick up the bags and in return he buys them food. Once home, Ramadhani and his wife work together sewing and stuffing all the animals by hand.

He's been making monkeys, elephants and giraffes for the last 10 years and while I'd love to be able to say he's moved into a bigger home and is sending all his children to school,  he still struggles to make ends meet. And yet, he's still committed the project because of the positive impact it's having on the streets of Arusha.

You can learn more about him by watching a video I put together. Keep in mind it was done 5 years ago before I developed some of the mad skillz I have now so be gentle.

Ta da!

If you feel compelled to help Ramadhani out, do. Buy an animal, send him an email of support or send him some cash. He's not tax deductible, he's just a guy trying to make his city a better place.

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