karibuni sana zanzibar!

by racheliliadis

The view from the Zanzibar Coffee House breakfast

After spending a lovely few days visiting artisan groups in the mountainous, temperate Arusha, we were excited to explore some new scenery in the tropics of Zanzibar. Stepping foot off the plane, the hospitable Zanzibaris greeted Erin and I with bright smiles and waves, shouting “Karibuni sana Zanzibar!” or “Welcome to Zanzibar!”

Vibrant. The culture is rich in romance, splender, and history. A unique place where Arab, Indian, Persian, and European influences blend peacefully with local African tradition. Wooden doors, old sailing ships, and the scent of clove filled the air. The streets in Stone Town were narrow, filled with merchants hoping to sell spices, wood carvings, clothing, and other handcrafted items. A true adventure waiting to happen.

Throughout our short, yet oh-so-dreamy stay in Zanzibar, we were able to visit 3 of our fabulous artisan groups: Upendo Means Love, Shangilia, and Dada. And at every stop, we were again able to hear story after story highlighting how fair trade creates jobs, respect, and a way for families to provide hope and a future for their families.

First stop: Upendo Means Love

Upendo means ‘love’ in Swahili and is the name of our first stop among our Zanzibar artisan visits. This particular group works to empower women through education and work. In a nearly 95 percent Muslim society, Upendo’s workers comprise an equal number of Christian and Muslim women with the hopes establishing a peaceful co-op between both groups. Now, Upendo has grown to be a sewing school, a workshop, and the Upendo Means Love clothing line, which Karama Mamas … ADORE! And, all of their profits go directly to help create economic independence and dignity for both Muslim and Christian women. Yes, please!

Upstairs, the women are learning how to sew clothing

Beautiful fabrics


Saturday morning, Erin and I climbed the stairs of the Zanzibar Coffee House to have a delicious rooftop breakfast. Afterwards, we headed out again to visit the Shangalia shop, which employs blind men who weave the most amazing coconut fiber baskets. Through being employed at this project, these men are able to gain respect in their community, as well as provide for their families.

As I listened to their stories, my faith continued to grow. Each man expressed that he was joyful about being blind because they know it’s God’s will. What an awe-inspiring perspective. I know as a Christian, I would hope to have that same response, but I’m not sure it would be the case. And so through these men’s testimonies, I pray for a deeper and more sincere understanding of God’s love for us …

Karama helps provide men with a future!


Dada is a new project set up as a socially responsible business network with women in the rural north of Unguja island, Zanzibar. They are creating jobs through providing women with training in food processing, such as drying fruit and spices, cooking jams, as well as the most lovely smelling soaps! We are quite the fan.

And when we weren’t traveling around like crazy-people hopping from taxi to taxi, we decided Zanzibar was the perfect location to go resort crashing. 🙂 So, we did manage to squeeze a few hours of R&R on Sunday. A perfect end, to an inspiring, exciting, and FUN weekend.