Jost, Karin & Mariano

It was a great pleasure for us to get to know “More Africa” in Paje, Zanzibar, and spend two weekends there. My son Mariano, our travel companion Karin and I were based in Zanzibar Town for our summer holiday, and we used the weekends to further explore the island, go for boat trips and to go swimming at the wonderful beaches of the east coast.
More Africa is dedicated to supply special education to young people of the local communities, a unique project on the island where support and structures for families with special needs children are more than scarce. Ellen van Beers, the founder and manager of the project, runs a guest house along side the special needs school to support it with the aim of making the school more independent of donations.
Since we were there only during weekends, we were not able to see the school in action. Instead, we got a special tour by Ellen who showed us the compound and the school building. Numerous classrooms allow to offer separate spaces for groups with different learning goals. The rooms are beautifully painted and decorated by visiting artists. In all the details of the interior set-up, the equipment and the decoration you can see the thoughtful and caring attitude of the manager and her helping hands. Educational material is, where it is needed, adapted to the local culture and language. Knowing a few other special education institutions in Africa and their struggle to offer adequate facilities for young people with special needs, this school is such a remarkable place!
My son Mariano is 16 years old and has a severe developmental disorder with a prominent mental disability. He is very outgoing, curious and loves to get in contact with people. His understanding of situations and contexts is limited, so being in a new environment can be very challenging for us. He can be very impulsive and difficult when it comes to certain do’s and don’ts!
In Paje, at the guest house of More Africa, we felt at home from the first moment! A number of small houses in between trees and flowers, scattered on a green compound, centred around the restaurant and open terrace, opposite a nice little pool. Mariano’s habit of enthusiastically embrace anyone he finds nice did not pose a problem for neither Ellen nor for the volunteers and other members of staff. Also in more difficult situations, everyone just reacted with so much understanding, we felt supported and at ease.
One Saturday, Mariano was allowed to join the swimming lesson of the Saturday class in the pool. Being in a group of children is always fun for him. He absolutely enjoyed it!
We loved the food and the drinks, the service was just perfect and special requests were easily catered for. We’ll certainly be back when coming again to Zanzibar!!!