Reporting on visit to Sundsvall 25/11- 30/11 2018

 

Mild winter days awaited our guests arriving in Sundsvall on Sunday 25th.
The November darkness took a grip but our friends knew they would soon be back in their sunny island so it was never a big issue. As usual they stayed at the Baltic Hotel. This time the Makunduchi delegation was small. New to Sweden and Sundsvall, only Madame Zainab Fadhil. Together with coordinator Mohamed Muombwa, Doctor Suleiman Selele and Makame Mbanja the delegation was complete. The aim this time was to get a grip on how to work with young people that do not complete their studies, lack skills and are consequently unemployed.
Soon after arriving we met at my home for food and talk. We gathered the opportunity to initiate the launching of an association which we named” Friends of Makunduchi”. We will see where it will take us, but the aim is to keep up the many contacts established through the years even prior to the project being launched. Trevor Fisher, Linda Strandfjäll and I will answer for the first steps to be taken.
On Monday we had the Municipal Assembly gathered and it gave the opportunity to present to the 81 elected members some information about the ICLD financed project so far. Mohamed and I showed some pictures to illustrate some of the activities. This presentation is available. After the assembly the delegation met group leaders for the political parties as a means to exchange more information and get to know each other..
The following days were filled with contacts and visits in several of the municipality’s activities and responsibilities. I just like to mention visit to Museum of Sundsvall where Mrs. Leyla Porovic explained how the museum works when producing exhibitions. The program as mentioned before was very much directed to unemployed young people and what the community can do to improve chances for further education and self-employment. In this line the group met students at the secondary level of education coming from different countries, how to work with dropouts and also got information on how the school system can work to bring forth enterprising skills.
All in all a useful stay that I believe can lead to some initiatives in the beautiful community of Makunduchi. I think our friends also will remember the traditional Christmas Show from the Estetic program in Hedbergska secondary school. Kwa heri!

Kuwakaribisha marafiki zangu kwa Sundsvall

Welcome to Sundsvall, Makunduchi friends. Next Sunday you are expected to arrive after a long and tiring trip. From the sunshine of Zanzibar to a Sundsvall profoundly immersed in the November cold and darkness. A dramatic contrast, but we will do what we can to ease up for you. I want to take the opportunity to fill you in on the events here since your last visit.

We have had a general election which means that Swedish voters chose their representatives on all three levels of government. As far as the national level is concerned there is a situation unique in Swedish modern history and after 10 weeks since the election there is still no government. What has mainly upset Sweden’s democratic set up has been the growing support for the Sweden Democrats a party with immigration issues at the center but where many experts widen the explanation to insecurity on some parts of the population about undefined future, brought about by modern technology, globalization and desertification of rural areas. We could safely say that this party thrives on people’s worries and fear. Somehow it has shifted Swedish  political map and we are experiencing now three main ideological fields, Conservative Nationalism, Liberalism and Democratic Socialism. The Green Party was practically wiped out despite awareness of climate change and pollution issues.

As far as the local Sundsvall government is concerned we are continuing with same partners, (Social Democrats, Center party and Left party).

On Monday Mohamed and I will give our local parliament a short presentation of our cooperation so far. I will share it here for your benefit.

I am leaving the chairmanship of the School Board but carry on with focus on Culture and Sport plus an elected seat on our Municipal Parliament.

I look forward to seeing you Mbanja Makame, Mohamed Muombwa, Suleiman Selele and Zainab Fadhil on Sunday, when we will try to start the “Friends of Makunduchi association” that I already have mentioned before.

I also expect that you will share with us the main questions affecting your beautiful island of Unguja with challenges facing Zanzibar and ideas to solve them.

Note: Swahili texts are also welcome here!

Why friends of Makunduchi?

It’s Friday. When I write something on my blog it generally happens on Fridays. The reason for that is that we generally have fewer meetings booked on Fridays. As I partially retire after the New Year I will probably write more often on my blogs. Promise or threat? You decide!

Today I am sharing thoughts about the reason to start in Sundsvall an association for friendship with the community of Makunduchi, southeast area of Zanzibar.

For three years now, the municipality of Sundsvall has been carrying out a project financed by ICLD ( International Center for Local Democracy) together with Makunduchi leaders. During this time and even before, people from Sundsvall have visited Makunduchi and many contacts have been established.

My experience is that when a project finishes the contacts generally die out. We would like to avoid that. What is then the purpose of the association?

Anyone that has been to Zanzibar and left the all-inclusive closed up hotels by the Indian Ocean can understand that the standard of living for people is low. The purpose of the ICLD project is the exchange of views and experiences aiming at developing democracy at local level. Even though we do not come with cash to make improvements our friends in Makunduchi have valued this cooperation and stuck to it. This is for me a sign of strength about the understanding that development happens when we put the effort and seldom does it end well if the aim is charity. Charity is the opposite of what our association should be about.

Most of us in the Sundsvall community are not mildly aware of the real deep issues that face Zanzibarians. It’s my hope that we can reach a better understanding of these issues. At the local level, we can see things happening in Makunduchi with the support of local elected people and other representatives. The needs for better education, healthcare, sanitation, jobs, electricity, running water are evident going into any village.

The purpose of our association, if it finds legs to walk, that is to say if there is a sufficient interest, is to find ways to support these needs without falling into the trap of charity. I am confident that with the help of this association a contribution can be made to create better conditions for development in Makunduchi.

The Makunduchi papers 2017 (2)

The Sundsvall delegation arrived in Zanzibar on Friday afternoon the 6th of October and left on Thursday evening the 12th October. On such a short visit it was important to see and experience as much as possible on the spot. For the trip to Makunduchi from the airport we were assisted by motorcycle police which helped us regain some of the time lost on our way down.

We were pleased to be received by most of our friends including coordinator Mr. Mohamed Muombwa and senior citizen Mr. Hafith Ameir.

Makunduchians are proud of what they are doing to develop their region in south Zanzibar at the same time showing a fantastic hospitality. At the entrance of the hotel a considerable number of villagers were there to greet and welcome us.

I lift two main subjects during our visit1) The development of dialogue and participation aiming at improving school results and 2) Enterprising initiatives to develop the local economy.

In this set of mind I would like to refer to the workshops and study visits starting immediately at arrival during the weekend. We were shown several projects and I would like to lift the initiatives of agricultural production taking place in various parts of Makunduchi. Mr. Suleiman Selele could, with his experience in health care, fill us in on different aspects concerning nutrition and health. These production units engaged mainly unemployed women. All could witness on lack of water being the main setback for these units. We visited also productive agricultural units where there was availability of water.

Another important development already mentioned was the Swahili house under the wings and supervision of Mr. Mwita Masemo.

The education workshops gathered headmasters and school board members and some of the themes discussed were the role of headmasters in the school system, the role of parents, communication towards the central government and challenges of teaching and learning in the English language, foreign to both teachers and students.

 

Discussions took place among and between delegations in a spirit of hope and commitment. For my part I am proud to have led the steering committee on behalf of Sundsvall’s Municipality.

 

 

The Makunduchi papers 2017 (1)

Sundsvalls Municipality (kommun) cooperates with Makunduchi Wards on a two year project that can be extended for further activities next year. This cooperation is financed by the Swedish State as part of the national cooperation budget and is administered by the association of Swedish Local Authorities (SKL).

We have now established good relations with our partners in Zanzibar and are advancing in what can be described as a dialogue and exchange of experiences concerning Local Power and its responsibilities and duties towards local populations.

I am chairman  of the steering committee in behalf of the municipality of Sundsvall. My experience so far, is that there is progress being made and that our partners are aware that their role needs to be better defined and new responsibilities need to be formalized by Central government.

When we started our work with Makunduchi there was a natural incidence in education issues. What could be done so that more students could reach a higher level of education and how could local politicians contribute to make this happen? In this sense we discovered that we had the same goal in both communities even though there is an enormous gap between what the two communities are achieving today. Local elected members see now that they have a role to play and that this is dependent on gaining support and trust from the populations in order to increase the number of citizens that can support themselves economically, being that education is probably the most important factor of development.

In Makunduchi there are positive developments such as the “Food Festival” aiming at taking up questions of health and hygiene as well as developing the noble art of cooking. The outdoor museum ” Swahili House”, has its aim at showing traditional living as far as housing and daily chores are concerned. Courses are being held to improve leadership and management skills for community leaders. Discussions are progressing on how school boards can claim better results for the students and what the role of parents should be.

On this article I will mention the warm reception we were met with as the Sundsvall delegation came to Zanzibar last week.

At the airport, after an eight hour delay,we were expected and met by the Honorable Mayor of Zanzibar Town Mr. Khatib Abraham Khatib This reception was followed up by new and profitable contacts with central government. A visit to the House of Representatives where all Swedish guests were presented by name to the whole assembly. Later we could have a talk with the honorable speaker of the house Mr. Zubeid Ali Maulid and deputy speaker Mme. Mgeni Hassan Juma. From there we went for a reception at the office of 2nd Vice President of Zanzibar Ambassador Seif Ali Iddi and even present at that meeting was the minister of Education Mme. Riziki Pembe Juma.

I am pleased that the Sundsvall delegation together with our friends could take up important issues concerning the development of Makunduchi and its people.

The delegation of Sundsvall: Mrs. Arianne Sundman, speaker of Sundsvalls municipality, Mr. Hans Zetterkvist, Vice chairman of the Education Committee, Mrs. Maria Åström and Mrs. Linda Strandfjäll members of the Education Committee, Mrs. Christin Strömberg and Mr. Björn Swedén Project coordinators, Mrs. Åsa Jerfsten Technical advisor on Education matters, Mr. Hans Fridholm, Water technical Expert and myself João Pinheiro chairman of Education Committee.

Portugueses de Sundsvall

Muita gente sabe que os portugueses podem aparecer nos sitios mais reconditos do planeta. Decidi, de memória, fazer um pequeno e limitado relatório sobre a relação entre os portugueses e a cidade de Sundsvall na Suécia.

Provávelmente a primeira referencia terá sido o Joaquim Oliveira que andava embarcado nos barcos do SCA e por conseguinte passava pouco tempo em terra. Voltou para o seu Algarve mas acabou por desaparecer servindo este artigo tambem como um convite para quem souber dele enviar alguma informação sobre o seu paradeiro. Fizeram permanencia curta na década de 80 os filhos João e José.

Quando da construcão do hospital distrital tambem cá parou o arquitecto Luis Pereira hoje em Estocolmo.

Quem para cá veio e ficou fe-lo por ter conhecido alguem o que afinal é um motivo sobejamente universal para que as pessoas mudem os rumos às suas vida. Assim se passou comigo quando definitivamente vim para cá viver em 1973. Tambem por mesmos motivos cá apareceu ainda na década de 70 a Isabel Costa beirã da zona de Viseu que hoje é enfermeira e trabalha em Estocolmo nunca deixando de visitar Sundsvall. Pouco tempo depois apareceu a Manuela Pettersson que tendo conhecido o Lennart lá para as bandas de Coimbra aqui se estabeleceu e ficou, tendo já netos à sua conta.

Tambem a algarvia Guiomar Holmström veio mais tarde e casou-se com o Mikael trabalhando presentemente numa pré escolar.

O Herlander Sapage é outra história, veio mas sem nunca ter um relacionamento a 100% com esta cidade, trabalha e vive hoje em Luleå. A Graça Olsson esteve cá uns anos, foi para Estocolmo mas está de volta, já que o filho por cá ficou. A querida Helena Sequeira Svedin portuense e professora de linguas deixou-nos prematuramente deixando tambem filhos e o Björn que foi afinal o motivo que a trouxe para estas bandas.

Todos estes vieram pois conheceram quem os para cá trouxe. A minha mulher Patricia tambem veio por mesmo motivo trazendo os dois rapazes David e Daniel aos quais se juntou tambem o irmão Cristóvão Meneses.

Tambem há exemplos do contrário como é o caso do Miguel Varanda que hoje vive em Lisboa com a sua Malin.

A Catarina Conde trabalhava aqui na medicina mas já foi para outras paragens.

Com a aparecimento da Mittuniversitet dá a nossa cidade passos largos para a internacionalização que uma universidade sempre cria e desenvolve. Para estudar fotografia já por cá passaram o Nuno Perestrelo e o João Barata. Tambem mais recentemente o montijense Daniel Raposo e a investigadora Teresa Silva cá está agora.

Um simpático casal que durante um par de anos aqui residiu foram o Alexandre Vidal Pinheiro e a Rita que veio estudar design. Graças à ajuda do Alexandre tenho este blogue para comunicar esta interessante informação.

São dados incompletos em que basicamente me concentrei nas primeiras gerações. Quem quiser completar ou comentar fá-lo-á melhor escrevendo no próprio blogue para que se possam posteriormente encontrar estes dados.

A foto aqui publicada no topo  dá conta de convivio luso brasileiro em 1983.

A de baixo mostra uma geracão de portugueses mais recente.

 

The Wallenberg cube

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Students and teachers from the Västermalm secondary school  invited me to say a few words when the Sundsvall cube was inaugurated. Students worked  with their own interpretations on the subject of the “Right of asylum in other countries”. Students and teachers from 8 different countries participating in a Erasmus network were present.

This project was initiated  by the Raoul Wallenberg foundation. The project is about human rights but also about our obligations as human beings towards others. 30 cubes have been spread out to schools all over Sweden, each one representing a human right as stipulated and agreed by the United Nations. “The right of asylum in other countries” that the Västermalm School has been assigned to work with, fits all too well, with Raoul Wallenberg’s own commitments and achievements during and after world war two. Who was Raoul Wallenberg, you may ask? Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat that saw how the Nazis persecuted Jews and others in Budapest where he was stationed. Wallenberg created false documents to help people out of the country and into safety. Later on he organized bus transports for many of the survivors of the holocaust and the surviving victims of Nazi crimes against humanity. Many of these refugees came to Sweden and started a new life here.

All this brings us to today’s situation in Sweden and in the rest of Europe. Europe is once again in trouble when it comes to coping with the refugee situation. Some countries try to pass on responsibility to other countries. We want to shut down frontiers and imagine that these people do not exist. We need each and every one of us not to feel guilty, but rather to understand the mechanisms that create the situations we are experiencing today. We have in Europe a good life and we need to share with others. If we permit that differences in society grow even more we will have more crimes and all other social problems that inequality create. Sweden is richer than ever. Every year we spend more in education and care. But many still expect more.

Here in Sundsvall we have 8 political parties at the local council. The third largest party was formed and grew based on the idea that we have too many refugees. The people that vote for this party must have a reason to do so. Racist people and people that are scared of foreigners exist in all our European countries  but now they have people that support them. We have to understand that many people are scared of globalization and feel that they are being ignored or pushed aside by technical development, new ways of communication and new competitive labor relations. These people feel unsure as whether immigrants and refugees are not presenting new threats to them.

My message to you today is only one. We all have an individual responsibility when creating the society we want to live in. We can choose to work together or we can choose to look after our own interests and let ourselves be influenced by cheap and easy propaganda or we can try to be aware citizens conscious that what we do and how we think or choose to express ourselves prepares the path for the future. A huge thanks to teachers and students that worked on this subject. The cube is yours!

Erasmus bringing people together

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Some very good things have been created by the European Union. One of these is the Erasmus programme. This programme aims at providing meetings within education, training, youth and sports. Sundsvall is currently involved in a programme that takes up “Active Citizenship and Environmental Awareness through Formal and Non-formal Education”.

This programme would most probably not be possible without the existence of the European Union. Meetings between students, teachers and school leaders give an invaluable possibility for advance and development of  questions of common and collective interest within education.

Joining Västermalm’s school in Sundsvall on this topic we find the, the International school of Ostrava, Czech Republic, the Cabrini Professional School in Taranto, Italy, the Ausros College in Taurage, Lithuania, the Lanchester school in the UK, the Liceum T. Zana in Wschowa, Poland, the Escola Casquilhos in Barreiro, Portugal and the Ienachita Vacarescu school in Targoviste, Romania .

To all visiting teachers and students I extend a most warm welcome to Sundsvall. The theme for this network is the spreading of good experiences through active citizenship on what can be done to enhance and improve our care and concern for the environment.

Truth is, that the environment belongs to all and affects all. Therefore, what we can do today is of great importance for our lives tomorrow. When heavy rains cause floods in Durham just off Lanchester it is a sign to all of us. When winters get shorter and warmer in Sundsvall we need to ask questions. Wherever we are, the need of awareness is there. Education is central in all our countries for a progressive and efficient improvement of knowledge, and practices concerning environmental issues.

When I think of this evening’s meeting and the people involved I feel optimism and I see possibilities. If we add up the numbers of citizens that live in our 8 communities we come to a number of over 700 thousand people. If all students in our schools would become active in making others aware of the environmental challenges we could reach a larger part of our population. It all adds up.

 

Makunduchi & Sundsvall 

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I am on the train from the Stockholm airport after 6 days in Zanzibar, Tanzania. These days were the kick off of a two year project, meant to bring the two communities closer to each other. Appropriate to make a short reflection over impressions so far.

Makunduchi. The leaders of Makunduchi are eager to help their villages develop. Some of these leaders work in the capital and are no longer residents. But they want to contribute and have moved to increase foreign presence. The Makundushi area has not benefitted from tourism as other areas have. The standard of living, due to lack of jobs and lower education is lower.  The levels of education have to improve so that Makunduchians can get jobs. Interest and commitment from such people as Mr.Mohammed Muombwa and Mr. Abdella Ali Kombo are important. Participation from former minister for Zanzibar Mr. Shamsi Vuai Nahodha  might show itself  valuable being someone that moves on highest circles of political power in the country. The people of Zanzibar have a long history to relate to. The will from central government to deliver solutions transforms itself into new challenges when resources are not applied. The friendly and hospitable Zanzibarians need to see to it that their schools have toilets, running water and enough competent teachers for the many learners.

Sundsvall. With this project the municipality of Sundsvall takes part on the generous cooperation budget, that the Swedish State puts aside, to have a positive voice in the world. Why it became Zanzibar is more connected to coincidence, as contacts were established by teachers and Swedish students before we could formalise the cooperation. In order to participate on this type of project Swedish authorities require that a steering committee is elected to supervise and lead. This committee is to be formed by politicians. Local parliament (Kommunfullmäktige) chose the education committee to form this group with me as chairman.

Mr. Hans Zetterkvist, Mrs. Ina Skandevall and myself went to Zanzibar as a first delegation. We did our best to represent our Community. We saw our task not as telling our friends what to do, but rather tried to find applicable  examples on how we solve political questions at home. Important in this context is history, as our people in Sweden have also been poor. This is what interchange is all about. All political parties except Sverigedemokraterna, approved our participation. Sweden Democrat’s no to this project is in itself a paradox, considering they always say that we should not allow people to come to Sweden and instead help them in their own countries. But from populist parties like this one, nothing surprises any longer. It is worse when Elin Nilsson (Moderates) herself member of the steering committee for the project, suddenly changes foot. I understand that some people think that Sundsvall politicians should not leave the municipality.When we choose to get involved in politics is beacuse we have an interest for human beings and to help get ourselves a better and fairer World. This is what first motivated me to become a member of the Social Democratic party of Sweden. And it still is.

It is my hope to engage people from the civil society of Sundsvall that aim at contributing to the same goals by helping to  solve some of the vital and basic needs in the field of education in Makunduchi,  such as putting a new roof in a school, help to build a toilet or drill for water.

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Hundreds of women


Meeting with Makunduchi teachers

We must by now have met hundreds of women in the villages of Makunduchi. The purpose of this cooperation project is to strengthen local government with focus on education. In this perspective it is extremely important to meet villagers and specially women that are those who take responsibility for school matters. We learnt that no schools have running water, they are overcrowded too. A school, for example,  has 800 students and twenty teachers. Some teachers come in as voluntary. This means they do not get a State salary. Teachers take money out of their pocket to finance these teachers. With classes having about 60 learners it is not surprising they need the extra help. Shortage of teachers is a problem. So is the quality of premises. In Kawenja they have locally built the walls for a new school but the government won’ t come and put the roof on.

We have just finished a meeting with 5 local teachers. Much of what was said at this meeting confirms what we have heard from local leaders and parents.

Sundsvall is not alone from Sweden, here in southern Zanzibar. Yesterday came a number of students from Celsius school in Uppsala. They are on an exchange program just as our own students from Sundsvall’s Gymnasiet will do later this week.

I do not know today to what extent our participation will make an impact. I am however impressed by the level of dialogue we can see, exists here. Mr. Mohamed Muombwa and Mr. Abdella Ali accompanied us yesterday which was valuable for our meetings and communication.

Right now I am expecting a call from a radio journalist back in Sundsvall eager to learn more about what we are doing here.