Sundsvall in the world

We are not alone in the world! The Corona virus epidemic has, if anything, proved our dependency of each other. It is a wake up call against our very egocentric societies where we have been made to believe that focusing on the self and own interests is the best way forward. This ego society does not bring anyone happiness as it does not bring fulfillment and positive sense of human existence. 

In this context I am writing a few words about what a community with most of its basic needs fulfilled can do for others in the world.

Sweden is considered one of the best societies in the world. This is based on a collective sense of guaranteeing help to our needed citizens and conditions for development. The function and organization of education and health are basic in the assessment of the well being of a society. Sweden comes top because we have been capable to use our resources in a rather fair and just way.

The Swedish parliament is conscious that egoism is not the way forward for ourselves or in the world. That is why for 2020 it has reserved a sum of about 4.5 billion Dollars for cooperation with other countries. Most of this money is administered by Swedish international Development Agency (SIDA). 

Many municipalities in Sweden participate in the various programs that are financed by SIDA. Much of these cooperation resources are chained to various organizations that work within the goals and aims of the Swedish parliament. One of the important organizations is ICLD (International Center for Local Democracy). Sundsvall has in the last years been part of this program and has worked with the community of Makunduchi in the southern part of the island of Unguja in Zanzibar. The population is calculated as more than 1 million people in an area half the size of the area of Sundsvall.

Being involved in this project since the beginning I felt that we should from our part gather as much information as possible and this took me last month to visit Mr. Ulf Källstig at the SIDA office in Dar es Salam. He could during this interview thank our municipaly for its commitment and at the same time explained that economic growth in the African continent should interest Swedish companies and we also talked about what can be done to combat the environment situation we are going through.
Any comments are welcome directly on this blog as this article will be followed up shortly.

Matins legacy

Just by coincidence after watching the news yesterday it caught my eye that the next program had to do with Sundsvall. It was being shown on Swedish Public Television, SVT and the name of the program is Arvinge okänd, ( Heir unknown). I kept in on. The program featured a search for people who had died and where no persons were found to collect an inherance.

It was about Matin Kamal. I first met him when I was studying at Umeå University. I recalled how he told me about the many courses he had taken and somehow he was interested to talk to me. His Swedish was not good. This was sometime at the end of the seventies. Many years went by and he once again appeared and contacted me when I was chairman of a municipal committee some 10 years ago. I recall him presenting me with some ideas to meet challenges in immigration. By this time he was living in Sundsvall. 

Much of Matins personality came through in the program now some 5 years after his passing. He left 2 million Swedish Crowns and eventually the program found the children of his siblings in England and in Pakistan. 

Matin Kamal belongs to a group of people that having many ideas can never materialize them or get others to help them materialize them. For these and other reasons Matin never had a job. Having taken many courses at University does not help. 

I think many politicians can witness on having had this type of contacts. People like Matin look them up to try to convince them of ways to solve political challenges. 

We know that every brain is individual. We know that many ideas never come to being because the communication is not there. Matins legacy with help of this program was a step to understand people like him. 

People that came in contact with him understood that he had important plans and ideas. He wanted to help for a better social justice and he was concerned with climate change. He was generous when he could be and that is how he will be remembered by the few that knew or understood him. 

Friends with Friends

Group photo with members of Friends of Makunduchi

Just about a year ago an association was built to keep a special connection between Sundsvall and Makunduchi.

The association has now 25 paying members and yesterday we were able to arrange a meeting at the Ibn Rushd premises on Centralgatan 14. Members Lejla Porovic and Raage Shirwa took upon themselves to organize the event and we could enjoy interesting conversation as everyone present had a connection with Makunduchi.

Besides a nice evening meal enjoyed by all we could hear from the Makunduchians themselves how they saw present and future development of their village aspiring at becoming a town. Besides the necessary points made on the importance of a well organized and functional education system, there was emphasis put on how to engage young people and channeling ideas into practice through entrepreneurship skills.

It was also brought to everyone’s attention the necessity to better assess the needs of Makunduchi and how this assessment could be achieved. Another important point had to do with the necessity to improve information about what is being done in Makunduchi.

It has been a profitable first year seen from the viewpoint of the association both in terms of its growth as the possibility to engage in small but important activities such as selling products here from Never Give Up shop.

That the association can do some good things is something that members a Johanna Nyström and Lejla Porovic feel strongly about.

Johanna Nyström and Lejla Porovic awaiting guests with welcome drink

Stöde and Makunduchi

Visiting Stöde

Surviving in and developing a village out in the countryside are two aspects joining the village of Makunduchi in Zanzibar and the village of Stöde in Sundsvall.

If the delegation now visiting Sundsvall ever came to Stöde it was all due to the initiative and effort of Kerstin Brandell Svensson and her husband Lennart. Apart from receiving the group in her home and cooking a delicious lunch she provided information and visits to local businesses, hopefully providing ideas that can be useful also in Makunduchi.

Stödebröd was established by the grand parents of the present owner and so it has stayed in the Edström family for three generations. The bakery makes thin bread and the product can be found all over Sweden and even in other European countries.

Besides her job as a music teacher Kerstin runs a Bed and breakfast-business Sweden4u and this enterprise rents out a cottage. Her husband Lennart cuts wood into properly sized logs for use in open fires for heating and coziness- Stöde Energi.

Last visit was at a n association of handicraft producers that together run a shop and expose their products for sale. This shop goes under the name of Stöde Form.

Mbanja Makame himself a businessman in Makunduchi commented that these experiences will be useful showing some new solutions and that it is possible to expand business even in a smaller village away from the main economic centers.

Updating on life

Abby has settled in

In November last year I predicted I would be writing more often on my blog. Well, it didn’t happen… Truth is I have had too much to do. Besides trying to learn some Swahili and Italian, sold our house, emptied it, sold and gave away stuff by the tons, bought a flat in Granloholm, Sundsvall, took a car trip to Lisbon with lots of stuff to the flat there, went on to empty it and order renovations that are now in (slow) progress. I have a new granddaughter since august. Anyway, I’m back now and hopefully not having to go through so many energy and time consuming activities in the future.

As far as learning Swahili I can say that I have completed the Duolingo course and that it gives me some ideas on how the language is built, I have some vocabulary, but without practice I am at a loss. I embraced the much easier Italian language and what prompted me to learn it was that my grand daughter Liv Gudasic is in Florence doing a course in Graphic Design. Hopefully we will find the opportunity to pay her a visit in the future.

Life in Granloholm is pleasant. In a smaller flat we have achieved becoming free of all debts and simplified our life as things are well organized here. We have 200 meters away, the possibility to leave all our waste sorted out and not having to take it by car to the recycling stations. We have a common laundry but can do most of our washing indoors.

The bus runs nearby at regular times without much delay. I travel on a monthly ticket that costs me only 100 Sek. Our cat Abby has settled nicely in.

This new situation means that we increase our possibilities to travel which is something we look forward doing.

Next coming week we will be receiving a delegation from Makunduchi and this will mean a trip to Stockholm to receive them. More about this in coming articles.

Sundsvall in winter by Liv Gudasic
How Liv sees Sundsvall in wintertime.

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.