Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Jamaica, Haiti and Caribbean: Be prepared

Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean need to heed the warnings and become better prepared for the potential of future earthquakes. The devastating earthquake of January 14, 1907 in Kingston buried my great-grandmother under a brick wall for 24 hours. She had been picking flowers in the back garden to take to a funeral when the earthquake struck. She was eventually rescued however it was a terrible ordeal. She said she could hear people on the street talking about wild animals that had gotten loose from a circus taking place nearby. She didn't know if her children were okay and her husband, my great-grandfather, was away in Mexico supervising the building of the railway from Veracruz across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. Fortunately, the children were okay and great-grandma got rescued. This personal family story reminds me of how precarious life is and the devastating plight still going on for the people of Haiti.

The New York Times has an article today on the earthquake faults that run through the Caribbean, along with a history of quakes in the region including the two major quakes that hit Jamaica in 1692 and 1907. From the article:
The fault that ruptured violently on Jan. 12 had been building up strain since the last major earthquake in Port-au-Prince, 240 years ago. Dr. Calais and others had warned in 2008 that a quake could occur along that segment, part of what is called the Enriquillo-Plantain Garden fault zone, although they could not predict when.

But about 100 miles to the northeast is a long segment of a similar fault, the Septentrional, that has not had a quake in 800 years. Researchers have estimated that a rupture along that segment — and again, they have no idea when one might occur — could result in a magnitude 7.5 quake that could cause severe damage in the Dominican Republic’s second-largest city, Santiago, and the surrounding Cibao Valley, together home to several million people.

“You can imagine the strain that has accumulated there,” said Paul Mann, a senior research scientist at the University of Texas, referring to the Septentrional fault. “It’s been going on for longer and accumulating faster. Therefore it’s going to produce a stronger earthquake.”

The recent quake on the Enriquillo fault and the forecast for the Septentrional are bleak reminders that the Caribbean is an active seismic zone, one with many hazards. Major earthquakes have regularly devastated the region’s cities, including the Jamaican capital, Kingston, which was destroyed twice in three centuries. An eruption of Mount Pelée killed 30,000 people in Martinique in the Lesser Antilles in 1902, and it and other volcanoes are currently active along that island arc on the Caribbean’s north and eastern reaches. Earthquakes and landslides along the Puerto Rico Trench, an undersea fault zone, have the potential to cause tsunamis.

The Haitian quake itself might have added to the risks, researchers say. Dr. Calais and colleagues and a team including Ross Stein of the United States Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif., have each calculated the stress changes on the Enriquillo fault that occurred when a 30-mile segment, centered in Léogâne about 18 miles west of Port-au-Prince, gave way this month. Although the results are preliminary, the work shows that stresses have increased just west of the segment and just east, within three miles of Port-au-Prince.

“This earthquake has increased the risk on other segments of that fault and perhaps on other faults as well,” Dr. Calais said. “The numbers are well within the range of stress changes that have triggered earthquakes on other faults.” But he said the quake probably did not increase the likelihood of a major tremor on the Septentrional fault. . . .
Much of what is known about the seismic activity around Port-au-Prince has been gleaned from historical accounts of previous quakes. While far from precise, these accounts suggest a century-long, westward-marching sequence of quakes along the fault, beginning with one in 1751 in the Dominican Republic at the fault’s eastern end and including the 1770 earthquake that destroyed Port-au-Prince.

That raises the possibility that the Jan. 12 earthquake could be the beginning of a new sequence occurring over decades, with each successive quake redistributing stresses along the fault. “It’s certainly possible and it’s really something we’re very concerned about,” said Carol S. Prentice, a geologist with the geological survey in Menlo Park. Such sequences have been observed on other faults, including the North Anatolian in Turkey. Read whole article here.

From an article in the Jamaica Observer:

Jamaica shares the same fault line (a crack or break in the earth's surface) with Haiti, which suffered a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake on January 11.

This was disclosed by the Head of the Earthquake Unit of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Dr Lyndon Brown.

"The fault that created the quake in Haiti runs right across the western end of the Dominican Republic, through Haiti, cuts across the Caribbean Sea into Jamaica and continues more or less into different fault lines across Jamaica: one continuous fault line runs across from Haiti to Jamaica," Dr. Brown stated.

Article posted on Environmental News Network on Earthquakes and the Future of Haiti:

The aftershock sequence of the magnitude 7 earthquake that struck near Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on Jan. 12, 2010, will continue for months, if not years. The frequency of events will diminish with time, but damaging earthquakes will remain a threat. It is essential that the rebuilding effort in Haiti take into account the potential for, indeed the inevitability of, future strong earthquakes. Haiti is cut by two major plate boundary fault zones. Over the past three centuries, earthquakes comparable to or stronger than the recent one have struck Haiti at least four times, including those in 1751 and 1770 that destroyed Port-au-Prince. It is also not just Haiti that has this potential.

The geologic fault that caused the Port-au-Prince earthquake is part of a seismically active zone between the North American and Caribbean tectonic plates. The earthquake undoubtedly relieved some stress on the fault segment that ruptured during the event, but the extent of rupture along the fault is unclear at this time. In historic times, Haiti has experienced multiple large earthquakes, apparently on adjacent faults. Future quakes have to be anticipated. Read rest of article here.

Headline in the Jamaica Observer today: Earthquake Unit’s ordeal - Lack of funds continues to hobble operations:

Dr Lyndon Brown, research fellow and head of the Earthquake Unit, said they have had to put off replacing the analogue system they now use as the unit cannot afford the $5-million needed to acquire the digital system for at least three of its 12 stations across the island.

This digital system, Brown said, will generate maps within seconds of an earthquake indicating the magnitude of the tremor as well as the "intense shaking locations".

"With that system, ODPEM (Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management) would know right at the moment where the earthquake is and where there is the most intense shaking and so you could deploy your response agencies quite easily to these areas," he said.

Brown, who was addressing reporters and editors at yesterday's weekly Observer Monday Exchange at the newspaper's head office in Kingston, said he was hoping the budget for the digital system will be approved in April so as to prevent the loss of quality data.

"When an event happens, the problem with not having a digital system is we have to wait until someone calls to say 'did you feel the earthquake?' and if it is big enough we will feel it and we take the steps to see if we can come up with a solution to inform ODPEM," he said.

But with the digital system, he said, they would be automatically informed.

The Earthquake Unit's desire to digitise its network was first reported by the Sunday Observer in August 2004.

Yesterday, Information Minister Daryl Vaz told the Observer that consideration will have to be given to allocating funds to this system in light of the recent occurrences of earthquakes in the region.

"Based on what is happening now, obviously something like that would have to be priority and we will have to see what we can do," Vaz said.

Explaining that he was not familiar with this particular need of the unit, Vaz noted that if it has been on the table for the last five years it will definitely have to get priority attention.

Meanwhile, Brown said there is a proposal to get graduate students living on the University of the West Indies Mona campus -- where the Earthquake Unit is located -- to work with the unit, so in the event of an earthquake they would be close enough to get to the data.

With the January 12 magnitude 7 earthquake in Haiti which killed over 100,000 and left millions homeless still foremost in most people's mind, Brown said he is hoping that priority will finally be given to acquiring the digital system as well as the long list of items needed by the unit to carry out its functions.

The unit's function is very critical, given that Jamaica is situated in a very active zone which experiences over 200 tremors, nine of which are felt each year.

"I hope that we don't forget too easily or too quickly about earthquakes and forget to make this a priority," Brown said, adding that he hopes the unit will get the attention it deserves this financial year.

According to Brown, the unit has submitted a budget of $36 million, $2 million up from what was requested last year, but which was slashed to $22 million.

The unit is also trying to get a building of its own as the current space is too confined for research. The new building, he said, must be able to withstand structural damage in a major earthquake.

"This idea has been expressed to the university and the university had offered land on the campus that could be used," he said. However, that project is also being affected by a lack of funding.

Outside of small university research grants the unit receives the majority of its funding from the Government.

Included in the list of needs are a four-wheel drive vehicle, six or seven computers and two-way radios.

"Our computers are the most obsolete, sometimes you have to turn them off if you are running two programmes," Brown said.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

America's Top Beach 2009: Fort De Soto Park Florida

I didn't know it at the time, but last week I visited America's Top Beach for 2009 as chosen by Trip Advisor. Fort De Soto Park is at the end of the Pinellas county peninsula near St. Petersburg and Tampa. According to the parks website:
Fort De Soto Named America’s Top Beach for 2009
Pristine Area Favorite Lauded as “Portrait of Tranquility”
Fort De Soto Park was named America’s Top Beach for the second consecutive year by TripAdvisor, the world's largest online travel community. Citing a “spectacular combination of soft white sand, calm, clear water and a laid-back atmosphere,” the popular online travel network put the park’s North Beach at the top of its annual best-of list, based on TripAdvisor's Popularity Index. This marks the second time in three years the pristine Pinellas County beach has received top honors on an annual “best-of” list. In 2005 Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman, a.k.a. “Dr. Beach,” named Fort De Soto the nation’s #1 Beach .

The sand on the beach is soft and fine like sugar and several dolphins were feeding very close to shore throughout the day.   Sadly, there were also dead fish on the beach from the region's recent two week cold snap and an octopus-like sea urchin creature.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti Earthquake Response Fundraiser

 Labrish Jamaica -  Haiti Earthquake Response Fundraiser


Help me raise money for Mercy Corps' response to the Haiti Earthquake.
A 7.0-magnitude earthquake struck near Haiti's capital of Port-au-Prince Tuesday afternoon, collapsing buildings, including at least one hospital. With communications from the area disrupted, the situation is unclear -- but with continued aftershocks and eyewitness accounts of "total disaster" and chaos, there are fears of catastrophic damage and widespread casualties.
Mercy Corps is deploying an emergency response team to help survivors. Follow the latest updates at mercycorps.org/haiti.
To make a donation please use this link.
Thank you!
Why I support Mercy Corps: I support Mercy Corps's vision and their exceptional work in alleviating poverty, responding to disasters and creating opportunities for underpriviledged people around the world.

Haiti Earthquake

A country that has suffered more than its share of tragedy has been dealt another blow. My thoughts and prayers are for the victims and the country as it works to recover. I support Mercy Corps, the Portland Oregon based charity that has provided earthquake relief to many countries in the past, as they embark on their mission to help Haiti.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Everglades: River of Grass

I spent a week of the holidays in South Florida and went on an airboat tour of the Everglades. Highlights were the many alligators we saw sunning themselves and an abundance of birds including great blue herons, anhingas, cattle egrets.

I asked our guide about the issue of the invasive species, particularly Burmese pythons and African rock pythons. He said that he hadn't seen any in this part of the Everglades however his concern were the snakehead fish (which we saw) and the many iguanas in the area. There are even Nile Monitors (yes, those meat eating aggressive giant lizards from Africa) now that are causing problems in Florida! See "Nile monitor lizards invaded Florida and they're winning the battle."

Nile Monitors, Burmese Pythons, African Rock Pythons and the plethora of iguanas running around DO NOT belong in Florida! They are causing havoc to the ecosystem.

This problem of invasive species in Florida has rightly received a lot of press this year and I believe it should be outlawed to have these non-endemic species brought into the country altogether. The New Yorker had a startling article in their April 20, 2009 issue titled "Swamp Things: Florida's Uninvited Predators," written by Burkhard Bilger. From the article:
Florida now has more exotic lizard species than there are natives in the entire Southeast. On a single tree you could conceivably find plants and animals from six continents, including parrots from South America, mynah birds and Old World climbing ferns from Asia, vervet monkeys from Africa, ladybird bettles from Australia, and feral cats from Europe, via Africa and Asia.

The state should do like Hawaii did and ban all non-native species from being brought in. Thankfully, some legislators are starting to take the issue seriously. Hopefully it is not too late. From a December 2009 post on the blog of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida:

Legislation has been introduced in Washington, D.C. that would halt the import and commercial trade in pythons. Senate Bill 373, sponsored by Florida Senator Bill Nelson and House Resolution 2811, sponsored by U.S. Representative Kendrick Meek (17th District of Florida), would add pythons to the federal list of "Injurious Wildlife," making it illegal to import pythons or ship or sell the snakes across state lines (the list of injurious species currently includes animals such as the fruit bat, mongoose and Zebra mussel).

Burmese pythons, native to Southeast Asia, are fast-growing snakes that reach average lengths of 14 to 18 feet and can weigh more than 200 pounds. In recent months, pythons have been captured in residential neighborhoods across Florida, and hundreds of the snakes have been removed from the Everglades and surrounding areas. It is clear that exotic snakes are a threat to Florida's ecosystem. It is also clear that the pet trade is at the root of the problem. It remains easy to purchase exotic reptiles in Florida. Many of these animals end up doomed to live in deplorable conditions, or are abandoned after they become too expensive to care for.

See the website for the Everglades Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area for more on the efforts to manage the invasive species problem.

With restoration of the Everglades taking place with important initiatives such as the building of a bridge on the Tamiami Trail and the purchase of Everglades lands from U.S. Sugar, let's hope that the invasive species issue does not sabotage the efforts to restore this amazing ecosytem.
I'm currently reading Michael Greenwald's amazing book on the Everglades titled The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida, and the Politics of Paradise and I highly recommend it for its history on the region, the heavy price wagered for overdevelopment and sprawl, engineering debacles and misuse of wetlands for agriculture. In it, Greenwald offers this sobering thought:
Before the war in Iraq, Secretary of State Colin Powell invoked the "Pottery Barn rule" for invading sovereign nations: You break it, you own it. The same rule should apply to ecosystems. We broke the Everglades, so we ought to fix it. "The Everglades is a test," the environmentalists say. "If we pass, we may get to keep the planet." It is a test of our scientific knowledge, our engineering prowess, and our political will. It is a test of the concept of sustainable development. But most of all, the Everglades is a moral test. It will be a test of our willingness to restrain ourselves, to share the earth's resources with the other living things that moveth upon it, to live in harmony with nature. If we pass, we may deserve to keep the planet. ~ Michael Greenwald

See The Everglades Foundation website for a great video on the River of Grass and for much more information on Everglades restoration.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Blue Lagoon Restoration: Jamaica

One of my favorite excursions as a child growing up in Jamaica was taking a trip to what we used to call the Blue Hole. This beautiful lagoon located on the north coast of the island near Port Antonio was ideal for swimming and there were legends back then that it was “bottomless.” It is now called Blue Lagoon and is known to have a depth of approximately 180 ft. which attributes to the lagoon’s changing colors from turquoise to sapphire to azure blue, depending on the light and time of day. This enchanted natural area is in need of environmental protection and efforts are underway to have it being designated a World Heritage Site. Presented here is the work of Adrienne Joan Duperly, who is spearheading the efforts for sustainable development and restoration of Blue Lagoon. Interested parties who desire to support and participate in these efforts can contact Adrienne directly at her contact information below:


Present, past and future stewards of Jamaica, our small green island set in turquoise Caribbean waters, are invited to attend the Community “Blue Lagoon Restoration and Sustainable Community Development Summit.” This is an opportunity to join others living and investing in your community. Allow us to present our year of documented research supporting SCD world class programs while seeking UNESCO Marine Heritage Site protection. Research and documentation has been done at the request of some Blue Lagoon residents. Our collaborative report will be presented, your goals presented and discussed. Future opportunities and specific challenges specific to Blue Lagoon’s redevelopment and restoration identified. A collaborative community driven effort is required to correctly distinguish, question and address the difficulties arising for Blue Lagoon’s coastal and rural Community. Please help us by attending Blue Lagoon Summit. Write down your personal remedies and brilliant ideas for Blue Lagoon area with you. We will help if you will allow us to try. Watch your newspaper for Blue Lagoon 2010 Summit date, time and place to be announced in June 2010. We will keep you posted. Thank you all.

Local newspapers will announce the date and location of Blue Lagoon Summit 2010

Blue Lagoon & Community Residents, stakeholders meet for discussion with some of Blue Lagoon Project’s team of Volunteers. Blue Lagoon area residents are asked to voice their relevant concerns, requests and suggestions by submitting their own sustainable community development ideas in writing when they register, or at least 3 weeks prior to the Summit.   All written contributions will be openly displayed, their ideas and comments will be circulated with the Blue Lagoon Restoration Study Document preceding the Blue Lagoon Study Key Note presentation.

In order to attend Blue Lagoon Summit 2010 certain requirements apply:
All individuals (private or corporate) must pre-register by submitting their legal name in full , complete street address, land telephone or Skype number.
Registrants are invited to submit 3 relevant questions regarding this project, state 3 most immediate concerns regarding Blue Lagoon’s future, and/or offer 3 impactful environmental or social solutions you may have that you wish other Blue Lagoon community members and project Volunteers to hear.

Portland community event Residents pre-register by e-mail : adriennejoan@eastlink.ca

Intro into Sustainable Development and Restoration of
Blue Lagoon Marine Natural Habitat in Jamaica
A study done by Adrienne Joan Duperly

The World Heritage Marine Programme mission is to safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage by assisting States parties with the nomination of marine properties and with the effective management of these sites. This will ensure that these precious marine areas will be maintained and thrive for generations to come.  All marine areas of “outstanding universal value” will be inscribed as World Heritage thus leading to a better protection of marine biodiversity. All marine World Heritage sites will be exemplary models of effective and results-based management, benefiting coastal communities around the world.

Earlier known as mysterious Blue Hole, Jamaica’s fabled Blue Lagoon area revitalization, habitat restoration and marine preservation depend entirely on wholesale support by location residents, property owners and

Privately owned villas rest on lands surrounding Blue Lagoon thus are offlimits. Blue Lagoon and surrounding waters remain National property.These endangered coastal shores and waters marine life can only be protected once joint agreement between governing bodies, private owners and corporate stakeholders pursuing UNESCO World Heritage Marine site status is reached.

This status will prove invaluable for present and future development, restoring Jamaica’s premier and most famous coastal lagoon and inflowing spring waters while preventing further decline of Blue Lagoons shores and coastal marine habitat.

Throughout Jamaica, village and town folk found rewards in Nature. Caribbean peoples were the very first naturalists, true “green” producers. Before global awareness evolved to recognition, island, sea and sky supplied resourceful island folk a mighty renewable harvest.

What next for Blue Lagoon? Entirely depends upon the choices made by those in authority. Divergent and interesting points of view will be expressed. Hopefully the tranquility and serenity Blue Lagoon inspires will be recalled, once more becoming a peaceful welcoming and natural place.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Maasai Update: Tanzania

Photo: Thomson Safaris co-directors and co-founders, Judi Wineland and Rick Thomson, meeting with numerous Maasai elders and leaders of Sukenya. The leaders and elders of Sukenya have worked regularly with Thomson Safaris from the moment the Enashiva project began and have been instrumental at all levels for conservation and community efforts

On December 19, 2009, in a blog post titled "Maasai being pushed out?" I posted a copy of an article published in an online magazine, The New Internationalist, which included some serious allegations against Thomson Safaris in Tanzania. As I have had first hand experience with this company, and was impressed with them and their support of Tanzanian schools as well as other community empowerment projects, I contacted them myself to get a response to the article. Thomson has given me permission to reprint here their letter to the Editor of The New Internationalist and I believe that the letter speaks for itself. Pictures in this post all courtesy of Thomson Safaris:

Editor of the New Internationalist:

In your December issue, you ran a story, “Hunted Down,” by Rosie Martin of African Initiatives that included considerable misinformation and fabrications about our company.

Thomson Safaris has a nearly 30-year tradition of providing quality safari experiences in Tanzania while fostering sustainable development and supporting local communities. These values are at the heart of the company’s ongoing efforts at the Enashiva Nature Refuge in northern Tanzania, where Thomson has been working with Maasai communities toward the goal of creating a model for community empowerment, wildlife conservation, and habitat restoration.

We have the overwhelming support of Maasai communities in Sukenya and other communities near the farm. In particular, the people of Sukenya, a village that directly borders Enashiva, feel as if their voice has gone completely unheard in media reports about Thomson. Enashiva was formerly known as the Sukenya Farm, and today the people of Sukenya and many other communities have partnered directly with us to work on community and conservation issues.

We are aware that a small group of people has been spreading a significant amount of misinformation and untruths about our company and our efforts to develop a community-based conservation and ecotourism project. This group has also been successful at attracting media attention, misleading a number of people, and dominating the dialogue about some of these issues. In fact, the only two sources quoted in the article are from this same organization, which happens to be supported and funded by African Initiatives. This seems to show the article’s inherent one-sided bias in terms of comments made about our company. In fact, the author never attempted to even contact us, as is standard practice in fair and balanced journalism.

We commend the African Initiatives stated goals of strengthening communities and social justice. We believe, however, that they are being misled by fabrications with absolutely no supporting evidence whatsoever. For one, the borders of Enashiva have never changed, and Thomson Safaris and its employees at Enashiva do not condone and have never instigated acts of violence. Quite the contrary to what’s written, Thomson has always provided pastoralists with access to water at Enashiva when water cannot be found elsewhere. There is only one year-round small spring located on the border of Enashiva, which pastoralists always use freely. We are engaged in ongoing discussions with community leaders about future sustainable grazing, and we remain committed to ensuring that pastoralists can benefit from the natural resources around them and pursue their livelihoods.

We urge you to speak with the Enyuata Women’s Collaborative, the Sukenya Primary School, the Laitaiyok council of traditional Maasai leaders and elders, and the countless other Maasai groups, families, and individuals who collaborate with us on community projects and initiatives all the time. Their voices should not go unheard.

In the end, we stand behind our record and the facts, and we have been open and cooperative with all investigations concerning false allegations about our company. By the way, none of the investigations, some led by human rights organizations, have found allegations against our company to be true. We will be happy to connect you to any of the above-mentioned contacts and provide supporting materials.

Thomson Safaris

I believe that it reflects poorly on the editors of The New Internationalist and their journalistic standards that they would publish an article that included inflammatory remarks about a company, without so much as attempting to get a response prior to publication.

Photo: Thomson Safaris and FoTZC collaborated with the government to deliver 50 tons of food aid to the communities around Enashiva this past summer during the drought. 

Thomson Safaris has won the 2009 Tanzania Conservation Award for their efforts at the Enashiva Nature Reserve, this being just the latest in a series of awards for the company. From Adventure Travel News May 25, 2009:

Thomson Safaris wins 2009 Tanzania Conservation Award

Honored for community-based initiatives at Enashiva Nature Refuge

Arusha, Tanzania — The Tanzania Tourist Board has honored Thomson Safaris (www.thomsonsafaris.com) with the 2009 Tanzania Conservation Award.

The award specifically recognizes the company’s efforts in establishing and supporting the Enashiva Nature Refuge, a community-based conservation project east of the Serengeti.

On May 19, Enashiva’s project manager, Daniel Yamat, received the award on behalf of Thomson Safaris at a ceremony in Cairo, Egypt, which was attended by Tanzania’s minister of tourism, Shamsa Mwangunga, among other distinguished guests.

“Thomson Safaris is humbled to receive this honor,” said Yamat. “We owe our deepest gratitude to the Tanzania Tourist Board, the government, and, most of all, the Maasai communities around Enashiva that have helped make conservation successful. The award really belongs to them.”

Since conservation efforts began at Enashiva, wildlife populations have more the doubled in the area and sightings of endangered species such as wild dog have increased dramatically. Rare woodland habitats that support endangered tree species are also being restored.

Yamat, who is of Maasai heritage, collaborates with a liaison committee of Maasai elders and leaders who assist in guiding Enashiva’s principles and work with local communities on conservation efforts and community projects. In 2008, select projects included the development of a borehole and water well, support for a women’s entrepreneur group, and the donation of a maize-grinding machine. Yamat noted several projects that are in the planning stages for 2009.

“As tourists come to Enashiva, we hope more opportunities will open up,” said Yamat. “Wildlife and communities do not have to be in conflict with each other. They can both win.”

The Conservation Award marks the third honor Thomson Safaris has received from the Tanzania Tourist Board. In 2005, Thomson received the Humanitarian of the Year Award, and they were named Tour Operator of the Year in 2001. More recent recognitions include being named among the Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth by National Geographic Adventure in 2008 and 2009. Thomson Safaris was also a finalist for the 2008 Condé Nast World Savers Award, which recognized the company’s efforts in supporting education initiatives in Tanzania.

Thomson works closely with Friends of Tanzanian Schools (www.fotzs.org), a non-profit organization that has funded education projects at more than 12 schools that educate approximately 11,000 children annually. Earlier in 2009, FOTZS funded and facilitated the construction of teachers’ housing at Robanda Primary School, which has also received more than 3,000 donated textbooks from the organization. More than 40% of Thomson Safaris travelers visit schools in Tanzania and provide most of FOTZS’ funding through donations.

Photo: Thomson Safaris developed and dug a borehole for drinking water in Sukenya. FoTZC will be exploring more clean water projects in 2010.

Photo: Thomson Safaris co-director, Judi Wineland, and a board member of Focus on Tanzanian Communities (FoTZC) with the leaders of the Enyuata Women's Collaborative. Thomson Safaris and our guests have been supporting the women's group for more than two years. Now FoTZC has officially started to support the group to establish a small business this year.

Photo: Thomson Safaris was invited to the Standard Seven graduation at the Sukenya Primary School. Here are some of the graduates. The company has provided support to the school in the past and now FoTZC will be working with Thomson to build teachers' housing at the school and provide more materials in 2010.