A New Foundation to Help Conservation and Development on an African Island in the Indian Ocean
By Carl Safina
Television documentary producer John Angier and I not long ago visited an island off the coast of Tanzania called Pemba. We were filming a pilot for a possible television series called Saving the Ocean. We went to see how local fishers and mosques were working to conserve coral reefs, mangroves, and other aspects of their natural environment. No small task in a poor place with burgeoning population. Most of the people have no electricity; many homes are made of mud, and opportunities are nearly non-existent. Yet we were moved by both the acuteness of their needs and the sincerity of the people. (see my blog post from that trip at: http://bit.ly/cOMlJf
Subsequently, John Angier helped put a young man we met there through computer training, and now he has landed a good job as a secretary for an Australian company that is rebuilding a terrible road between two villages called Chake Chake and Wete. That’s one life totally changed. (That young man, named Nassor, was an obvious go-getter, taking every opportunity to hang around with us. His mother even baked us a cake. But he had zero money and zero opportunities, and it was John’s follow-up correspondence and assistance that really changed his life.)
Angier has also been corresponding with the people working to protect their coral reefs, about projects to benefit their 36 fishing villages. Now he is setting up a non-profit called the Pemba Foundation through which to raise funds for further assistance. The foundation’s work will not be aimed exclusively at coastal issues, but the first focus will be working to improve life in Pemba’s fishing communities.
Angier’s been kind enough to ask me to be on his founding board. He says, “If we do this right we can help marine conservation at the same time.” It’s the beginning of a process,” John says, adding with prudent caution, “but I think I can see that it might work.”
Obviously this kind of thing is nothing without local contacts, and we had a good feeling about the MICA guys from the first time we met them. In all our dealings with them, they’ve seemed honest and well-intentioned, two qualities in short supply in many better-endowed quarters.