The Real Kids

By Anna Kevin and Emilia Sten Photos by Edward Sixtus Busungu (Originally published on May 18, 2014)

The co-operation between Real Kids FC trojafootballand Art in Tanzania started already in 2001, and now it was time for them to get new clothes. Real Kids FC is a football club on Zanzibar. The club consists of two teams Junior league and Central. Junior league is from 8-13 year olds and Central for 16-20 year olds. At the moment the younger team has 37 players and the older 25. The players are really committed, they practice every weekday and have games almost every weekend. Since 2011 the Central team is playing in the ZFA Central league, which is the “national league” of Zanzibar. The road hasn’t been easy for the Real Kids FC. They didn’t have much in the beginning, but since the coach Salum Ahmed Mahadh knocked on Edward’s door they now have much more resources.

First game with the new shirts, against Rolling Stones. Unfortunately they lost 1-2. It was only a friendly game, the real league starts 15th of October.

First game with the new shirts, against Rolling Stones.

Edward Sixtus Busungu is the manager of Art in Tanzania on Zanzibar and he puts his whole heart into helping the team. He has spread the word of the team in the aim of getting as much support as possible. Donated footballs have arrived even from England. Last Saturday the team got brand new football clothes from Art in Tanzania. The design and the making of the clothes were made by Detroit Sober House – one of Art in Tanzania’s community development projects. The team now looks like a professional team and maybe that takes them one step closer to their dream – to be part of the national team of Tanzania.

Sober House Art

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The future Art Gallery and Cafe

When wandering through the alleys and byways of Stone Town, every once in a while you’ll come up to a little square, a little breathing space. It’s at one of these that I am to meet Kasim Nyuni and Saleh, the driving forces behind an upcoming art gallery. When I get there – through the able guidance of my fellow AIT volunteer Sue Wagstaff – we find Kasim negotiating with a carpenter in rapid Swahili. The whitewashed house with the L-shaped patio will not only serve as an art gallery, but also as a cafe and Bed & Breakfast, Sue explains, so new furniture is required.

When we sit down to talk, Kasim and Saleh explain to me that this won’t be a regular art gallery. All the art for sale will be produced by recovering addicts and the proceeds will flow back to the NGO that supports their recovery. “Quitting drugs isn’t enough,” explains Kasim, “You need to change your outlook on life.” Kasim, himself a former addict, has devoted his life to helping others recover from their addictions. In the sober houses, recovering addicts can take part in various activities: English classes, computer classes, art classes. “People don’t come to us because they want to be artists, they come to us because they want to stop being addicts. But in the course of their programme, we often discover their talent and help them develop it.”

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Meeting the “fundhi”, the carpenter

Sue, who worked as an AIT volunteer at the sober house last year, is back to help them set up the art gallery, as well as teaching art at the sober house. “These aren’t trained artists,” she explains, “They’ve been on the street, on the outside, their art comes from a different place entirely.”

Soft-spoken Saleh is one of the many who have been helped by Kasim. Once an addict, he is now a fashion designer and painter, who in 2013 exhibited his designs at the Zanzibar Fashion Week in front of hundreds of people. “During the show, we shared my story with the audience. It was great to feel their support. It’s important that we fight prejudice against addicts,” he says, “We want to show the community that we can change, that we can be valuable and productive members of society.”

Kasim agrees. “Addiction takes everything from you. Addicts are disconnected from their families, from the community. We help them bridge that gap.”

Through the art gallery and cafe, Kasim and Saleh want to generate some income for the organisation, so they are less dependent on donations and subsidies. Equally important, however, is that they try to involve the Stone Town community. “We want to keep the prices at the cafe as low as possible, so ordinary Zanzibari can come, have a cup of coffee and see what our recovering addicts can achieve.”

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From left to right: Kasim, Sue and Saleh

 “Every morning I wake up and I think ‘What can I change today?’” says Kasim. It seems to me that, slowly but surely, they are teaching the people of Zanzibar that addiction is a disease, not a sin, and that it can be overcome.

An opening date for the gallery hasn’t yet been set, but keep an eye on this blog. (Originally published on Apr 30, 2014)

Be smart, don’t start – A story about Detroit Sober House

By Emilia Sten and Anna Kevin (Originally published on Oct 2, 2013)

Suleiman Mauly

Suleiman Mauly

Suleiman Mauly was a normal child, who liked playing football and was good in school. In school he felt bored and started to hang out with the “wrong” people and using drugs. After a while he became an addict. He says he ended up hurting himself and others more than he could ever imagine. Today he is clean and he is the founder of Detroit Sober House on Zanzibar, together with Fatma Juma.

They call it a recovery community and the idea of sober house is to change the addict’s environment and give them a drug free zone. When using drugs, your friends are often also users, so getting away from them and making new friends who are not drug users is essential for healing from the addiction. At the sober house they can find someone to talk to about their problems – people who have been through the same.

It is the addict’s own choice to join the sober house, but often they got help from their families to pay for the stay. The first months of the recovery the people are not allowed to go outside the sober house. In the beginning many of them are sick, as a side effect of getting clean from the drugs, and just need rest.

As the recoveries gets better they start taking part in the daily programme. The programme consists of yoga, meditation, self-support meetings etc. The recoveries can take part in different programmes, like arts and sports, depending on their own wishes. Many of the recoveries are artists and makes paintings and sculptures at the sober house. The 12th of November they will have a big exhibition of their arts. There they will also sell jewellery and clothes they have made themselves.

The sober house doesn’t employ anyone to do the daily duties, because the recoveries take care of making food and cleaning etc. But volunteers are very welcome since they need all the help they can get. Actually it was a volunteer from Art in Tanzania who introduced the yoga sessions to the sober house.

At moment Detroit Sober House have 30 recoveries who have suffered from addictions of heroin, marijuana and/or alcohol. The staff contains five persons. As the recoveries gets better they may become volunteers, meaning they are helping the staff with the arrangements of the house.

Even after six months or more, when they are totally clean from their addictions they still have contact with the people at the sober house, to avoid falling back in old habits. They are like a family, who are there for each other when help is needed.

The Detroit Sober House also drives a campaign, where they try to prevent children and youngsters from start using drugs. The campaign is called “Be smart, don’t start”. They are visiting schools where they hand out their own brochures and tell the young people their stories. Hopefully there will be less drug addicts on Zanzibar in the future.

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