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has studied tourism and is a blogger.

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Lahoucine is a hiking guide and is taking a course on Traditional Chinese Medicine. Idir attends the Rudolf Steiner School in Marrakech.

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lives in a suburb of Antanarivo.

Her sister is a midwife and gives an insight into her profession. 

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has crossed the Mediterranean in a boat. His family still lives in his home village. 

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 from the Kurya tribe is a journalist and wants that female genital mutilation belong to the past.

 

 Discover the diversity of people - a snapshot with Irene 

 

February 2021

Irene Allen Namisango (25) was born and raised in Uganda. She studied tourism at Makerere University in Kampala and is passionate about writing the blog Uganda Uncovered. In this blog, she brings readers closer to her country in an amusing way.

 

Irene, would you like to explain the peculiarity of your name?

Namisango is a local name that means crimes. I oftenly get questions like, “Are you a criminal or a verdict?”, because in Uganda, local names given to children are usually attached to seasons at which they are born, situations in which they are born, places they are born in and several other things.

 

How can we imagine your hometown?

Buddo is my hometown in Wakiso District, Uganda. It’s a small village known for elites because it has some of the most historical secondary schools like Kings College Buddo, a renowned old high school for kings of Buganda (Buganda ist ein Königreich im heutigen Uganda). Wakiso district is situated in the central region of the country, about 38km away from Uganda’s capital Kampala.

In my hometown, tourism is not so much as we only have one historical place called Nagalabi, a coronation place for the kings of Buganda.

 

What childhood memories would you like to share with us?

For some reason, I wondered why nature placed me in Uganda and not one of the rich white countries like USA. It was at around 20 years when I joined Makerere University for a “Bachelor’s Degree in Tourism that I started appreciating my country when I started travelling to its different corners.

For my childhood, I hated the fact that in my country we had to wake up to heading to gardens every day, having the local foods like matooke (a national dish made from steamed green plantains) and not the pizzas and burgers I watched in the movies. How we would share bedrooms with like four of our siblings yet in the movies that we could watch a little girl of 4 years had her own room which I couldn’t afford even at 20 years.

I forgot that it´s those small things that grew us together and created a love bond unbreakable that now when a sister is down, I also be down, it´s those bed sharing that we learnt how to share with colleagues and not allow the tiny pretty things overtake us. Most of all, we learnt to be contented with what we had.

 

I loved playing a game called sonko. We draw lines on the ground that we skip, having a stone like child you keep on throwing to the next class for you to continue playing, when you fail, you lose out and wait for a colleague to play. When they fail too, you play again, and the game continues until the first one to reach the last class becomes the winner.

 

What made you decide to write a blog?

Starting to travel over Uganda, seeing the unique cultures, some of the world’s most beautiful wildlife, sprawling savannas, vast ever-changing landscapes, exclusive resorts plus so many other wonders that I had never thought of. I agreed that my pearl was simply created to be protected, and no one would do it better than me.

I started blogging about my country, to expose off all the hidden beauties that the world knew not, first to make fellow Ugandans fall in love with their country and next foreigners to yearn to visit Uganda. Now this is my passion.

 

Why are you "on fire" for your work?

What I love most about my profession is that it has given me the most opportunity to know the best beauties that nature placed in my country, perhaps I would never knew them if I was a doctor treating people somewhere in Mulago Hospital; Uganda’s biggest hospital.

 

Do you see sustainable development in tourism?

I won´t say that Tourism is new in Uganda, because we still look back to the 1950’s when the first explorers came to the country, however it’s a fresh industry that people have just started embracing, and it has come at a perfect moment when sustainable tourism is also blossoming. I would say that tourism growth in Uganda is nearly walking together, hand in hand with sustainable development.

 

How many ethnic groups live in Uganda?

We have over 56 diverse tribes with different languages, dress codes, rituals and beliefs.

 

Did you go on vacations as a child?

When I was a kid, I never had any vacations, traveling is not a culture that is instilled in us as young children in Uganda. So the only basic times I traveled was when we went for field work trips at my primary school. I remember visiting the source of the Nile in Jinja and Bujagali falls, an obvious case because almost every primary school in Uganda takes its pupils to Jinja almost every year.

 

What else would you like to share with us from Uganda?

Generally, Uganda is a beautiful country at I would still choose even in a thousand times, to retire here, perhaps in a countryside close to Kidepo Valley national park; Africa’s only true wilderness, or on one of the 77 islands on East Africa’s largest lake; Victoria.

I am a proud Ugandan who enjoys having breakfast at 10am in the morning, lunch at 1pm and my dinner at 8pm at home as the society has taught us.

The hospitality in my country is one where you ask a stranger on the street where a place is, and they opt to just take you there. There is a way Uganda’s motto is portrayed in the actions of Ugandans on the streets, ‘For God and my country”, they make sure everyone is okay and happy in the pearl of Africa.

Come to Uganda to experience the way of life in the pearl of Africa and many more amazing experiences you will probably never find elsewhere.

 has planted over a million trees and is one of the youngest ambassadors for climate change.

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Discover the diversity of people - a snapshot with Lahoucine and his son Idir 

February 2021

 

Lahoucine (48) was born at 1,900 metres above sea level in a Berber village in the Aït Bougoumez valley in the central High Atlas. After five years of primary school in the valley, he attended secondary school, where he lived with his brother, a teacher. Lahoucine graduated from high school in Marrakech and then began training as a hiking guide. 

Along the way, he has been taking a course in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) for over two years.

How established is TCM in Morocco?

Lahoucine: Traditional Chinese Medicine is a medicine of the wealthy in Marrakech. As Berbers, we ourselves have an old medical tradition in terms of acupuncture points, massages and phytotherapy (herbal medicine). We use argan oil, for example, to disinfect wounds or for joint pain and impure skin. I personally find it a pity that the knowledge of traditional Berber medicine is fading into the background. Many believe that all kinds of pills can alleviate any complaint in a very short time.


How do you feel about your life as a Moroccan?

Lahoucine: Positive. I love my job, I feel like a modern nomad. What I appreciate about Al Maghrib (Land of Sunset) is the enormous variety of different landscapes, our history, the tradition and our food. I associate the smell of couscous with family, with coming home, with security.

The official name is Al-Mamlaka al-maghribiya (the Maghreb Kingdom). The name Morocco is derived from the city of Marrakech. 

Describe briefly your family life.

Lahoucine: We live together with our cat Mimi in a house in the lively city of Marrakech. With almost 2 million inhabitants, Marrakech is the fourth largest city in Morocco.

Idir: My sister Khira (14) and I (12) attend the Waldorf-Steiner School. We speak Tamazight (a Berber language), Swiss-German and Darija (an Arabic dialect) at home and with friends.

How did you meet your wife?

Lahoucine: I met my wife Brigitte, who comes from the Sankt Gallen region, in 1997 on a wonderful hiking tour in the desert. A tour that changed my life! After a long-distance relationship lasting several years, she moved to Morocco in 2001.

Idir, would you like to describe your daily life?

Idir: With pleasure. I get up at 7 a.m. during school days (Monday - Friday), usually have breakfast with bread, honey and fruits before my mother or father takes me to school by car. The days with history on the timetable are the ones I look forward to the most.

At my school, the languages offered are High Arabic, French, English, German and Spanish.

I meet my friends, whom I can reach easily on foot, to play football at the weekend or on Wednesday afternoons, provided we don't have afternoon classes. 

In the evening, between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m., when the smell of tagine or couscous hits the air, I get hungry. 

I usually go to bed around 9 p.m.

What does a holiday mean to you as a family?

Lahoucine: Being in nature, hiking, sleeping under the stars in a cosy sleeping bag. Together as a family, we relax with relatives in the valley of Bougoumez.

Idir: I go to Switzerland with my sister and my mother for four to five weeks during the three-month summer holidays. What I enjoy most about the holidays is reading in bed, meeting friends and playing a lot!

What emotionally moves you at the moment?

Lahoucine: I made a video with Khadija, Khira, Mlaid, Naima and Touda in January. These five women have a cooperative in my home village of Imlghas. There are about 60 families living in my home village and about 32 villages in the Bougoumez valley.

The women weave carpets with white and black wool, dyeing them in bright colours with the help of plants and minerals.

Every afternoon, these women meet to work.

I made this video to show how a Berber carpet is made from scratch. In this way, I hope to preserve traditional knowledge and pass it on to younger generations, like my children.

In the video, the women paint beautiful henna tattoos. What is the deeper meaning of these tattoos?

Lahoucine: Henna provides a link between individual women to make them feel pretty, valued and comfortable, and is a long-standing part of our culture. The paste is extracted from the leaves of the henna plant. The leaves are ground into a fine powder, mixed with water and the paste is ready. 

The patterns are applied to the hands, feet and face.

Henna tattoos are traditionally applied at weddings, at the end of Ramadan, at the Feast of Sacrifice (Eid al-Adha), which takes place this year in July.

Women mourning their deceased husband are forbidden to decorate their skin with henna tattoos for 4 months and 10 days.

During this time, women are dressed in white and do not enter into a relationship with a new man. After the mourning period, a new life begins for the woman.

 
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Discover the diversity of people - a snapshot with Enoela Cathy

March 2021

 

Enoela Cathy (24) lives in Belanitra, a suburb in the north of Antanarivo, or Tana for short, the capital of Madagascar.
Her love of the German language led her to pursue a career in tourism.

Enoela Cathy currently works in a travel agency in the capital. There she takes care of enquiries and handles reservations.

Since her time at the Lycée Luigi Orione (LCO) Namehana, a secondary school, she has been learning German with great enthusiasm. At university, she earned a bachelor's degree in German.

 

Is it common to learn German in Madagascar?

No, not at all. But I love the sound of the language, the language culture. In my secondary school, German was offered alongside English and French. That's where I first came into contact with the German language.

How long is your way to work?

It varies. Depending on the traffic, I calculate at least 1 ½ hours each way for a distance of around 15 km. Sometimes it takes me two hours. Because of Corona, the number of people allowed on a bus is limited to 17. Before Corona, there were 10 more people. As a result, I often have to wait for several buses to get a seat on the bus. Because of this, my alarm clock rings at 5 a.m. every day. On the way to work I like to read books and on the way home I sometimes listen to music (e.g. classical music or Erick Manana Tiako).

Can you introduce me to your family?

I was born as the second of four daughters. Together with our cat and our dog, we live in a comfortably furnished house. My older sister is called Sherinah Ida, she is 26 years old and a midwife. My two younger sisters are 14 and 21 years old and are studying or still going to school.

Would your sister like to tell us something about her profession as a midwife?

Sherinah Ida: I would love to. I work in a hospital with its own maternity ward in a village. The hospital has a single 5-bed room for the recovery of the mothers. To create privacy, the beds are separated with curtains. 

In my area, many pregnant women attend a childbirth preparation course, where they learn a lot about breathing or try out different birth positions, among other things. There are no examinations prescribed by the state, neither before nor after birth. The state provides the Centres de Santé de Base (CSBII), which are health centres, also for expectant mothers and babies, which can be visited for a small fee. The more rural the area, the further away is the next CSBII. 

At the birth itself, it is customary in my area for the father and parents of the couple to be present.

Becoming mothers are treated with great respect. If a pregnat woman gets on a bus, she is automatically given a seat and if she has to wait in a queue, she is automatically let ahead.

Maternity leave is spread over a total period of 14 weeks (before and after childbirth). In Antanarivo, it is common for women to return to work 6 weeks after giving birth.

The youngest woman I was allowed to accompany at the birth was only 16 years old, the oldest at the age of 51.

Enoela Cathy, what do you think is unique about your region?

The region where I live is called Analamanga. What is special about my area are the 12 sacred hills of Imerina. The number twelve here is to be understood as the sacred number of Merina cosmology.

The hills have historical, political or spiritual significance for the Merina tribe.

What I particularly appreciate about my region is the hospitality and helpfulness of the people. If I have a problem, I can count on strangers to help me.

What do you usually eat?

I love pork with cassava leaves and prefer to drink mineral water or cow's milk.

Like most Malagasy, I eat rice three times a day. Supposedly, the people in Madagascar eat an average of 120 kg of rice per year. In comparison, the per capita consumption in China is around 77 kg of rice per year. In the morning, I eat rice in the form of a soup or a mofo gasy (rice pancake), and at lunch and dinner, rice with zebu (humpbacked beef), chicken or vegetables. Most of the rice is grown in the highlands of Madagascar.

Which festival is the highlight of the year for you?

National Day. On 26th June 1960, Madagascar achieved its independence from France. We celebrate this festival during the day with a big military parade at Mahamasina Stadium and in the evening everyone walks through the streets with lanterns. It is a beautiful festival of lights.  

What does "The Diversity of People" mean translated into your mother tongue?

My mother tongue is Malagasy and the diversity of people is called:

NY FAHASAMIHAFAN'NY OLONA

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Discover the diversity of people - a snapshot with Boukary 

 

March 2021

Boukary (35) grew up in a village with the exotic name Dango-Bangagou in the province of Boulgou. Since March 2010, he has been living in a Naturefriends International house south of Livorno in Italy. Boukary's family still lives in his home village. His wife and three-year-old son Bilal live together with his parents, his siblings and their families in his home village.

Does your family live from farming?

Yes, they work in the fields. Between June and the end of November is the rainy season. In the last few years, the rains have become less and less and often endangered our harvest. I send money to my family to support them.

At home we grow maize, millet, beans, rice, fonio millet (one of the oldest and most nutritious cereals in the world), peanuts and okra. In terms of fruits, we harvest mangoes, guavas, néré, neem and the nuts of the shea tree.

Each family has two or three cattle, goats, sheep and chickens.

Will you share some insights from your past with me?

As a child, I contributed to my family's income as a shoe polisher in the capital Ouagadougou, over 100 km away. When they could no longer support my studies, I decided to leave Burkina Faso. First I went to Ghana, then to the Ivory Coast, then to Benin and Niger, before I dared to go to Libya. I wished so much that my parents could live in a brick house instead of a simple mud hut.

After three years, I had the intention to return, I had already reserved a seat on a plane, when, completely unexpectedly and surprisingly, I was offered a passage on a small boat to Europe. I took the chance and left.

Currently I work in agriculture and I visit my family every two years. I communicate with my loved ones regularly via WhatsApp. The pain of separation from my family and from my childhood friends is pulling enormously on my strength.

How can I imagine your village and the life there?

I am a Muslim. Our mosque is in the middle of the village. At the "village square" the inhabitants meet to have breakfast and to buy fruits.

Two wells were dug and trees planted as part of a project by the Naturefriends International. The mud huts are disappearing, and brick houses are gradually taking their place.

The individual family groups live together in a kind of "mini village". Walls surround an inner courtyard where each family has its own housing unit. Around 1,000 people live together in my village this way.

Slopes connect the individual houses with each other. The only infrastructure in the village is a petrol station.

If the harvest is good, we celebrate a feast in front of the house of the "village chief".

As Muslims, we celebrate the end of Ramadan and the Islamic Feast of Sacrifice. We call the Feast of Sacrifice Tabaski or Sheep Feast. I look forward to this festival especially every year.

On feast days, we eat my favourite dish, chicken. In everyday life, we eat Tô, a neutral millet porridge that gets its flavour from dipping sauces in it.

When a child is born, we buy an aries, sacks of rice and kola nuts (these must not be missing as a symbol at any festival). The Imam gives the blessing to the child and afterwards family, friends and neighbours celebrate with a richly laid table. In case of death, a ceremony takes place on the seventh day after death. On the 43rd day for men and the 44th day for women, this ceremony is repeated. Birthdays are secondary in my family and are not celebrated.

What changes have you seen in your region?

Before we built the two wells (the first one is 70 metres deep, the second 45 metres), women and children had to walk almost two kilometres every day to get water. The village school was the only place with a well. My parents' generation, my generation and my son's generation are different. My parents, for example, had a harder life but were more contented. At that time, money was not essential for living. In comparison, today's life is all about money. For example, it used to be normal to walk, now people ride a moped, they need money for petrol. To make a phone call, we need a SIM card and a mobile phone. In the past, letters or tapes were simply given to family friends who were travelling around the country. It would never have occurred to them to ask for money. 

What is your son's favourite game?

At the moment, Bilal loves to play with a tin can. The tin has a hole through which a wire runs and is connected to a stick. He runs with the stick pushing the can in front of him and gets the wonderful feeling of driving a little car.

What value does music have for you?

Music makes me forget my worries and it makes me feel good. I like to listen to reggae, zouk, soukous. I'll share a little sample of a song I like to listen to with you here

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Discovering the diversity of people - a snapshot with George

 

April 2021

 

George (30) is a journalist with heart and soul. He was born in Tarime. This district is in the north of the Serengeti and is on the border to Kenya. He lives with his wife in a small house a few kilometres outside Mwanza, the second largest city in Tanzania on the southern shore of Lake Victoria. His siblings still live in Tarime, his parents unfortunately passed away a few years ago.

 

Did you always want to be a journalist?

Yes, ever since I went to secondary school. I am very happy that my dream has come true. I love my work because it allows me to be a part of change in our society. I feel like I am making a difference in my community. Through my journalistic work and my blog, my readers get news, I educate, create awareness e.g. for education.

It makes me happy and satisfied when I conscientiously fulfil my responsibility towards people and achieve the goals I have set.

 

What change in society would you like to see most?

That female genital mutilation finally belongs to the past. I personally come from the Watimbaru clan, a Kurya tribe. In the Kurya and Wakurya tribes, more than 12 clans still practise female genital mutilation (and male circumcision). A practice that brings no benefits but only suffering to an estimated 125 to 200 million girls and women worldwide.

 

At what age is a girl usually circumcised?

Over 10 years ago, girls were circumcised at 14. A ritual to show that the young woman is ready for marriage. Entering into marriage at such a young age usually means loss of education for the women.

After the government and organizations launched campaigns against genital mutilation, this may have led to children under the age of 10 being circumcised, mostly in secret.

It was also not an unusual case of a non-circumcised woman being circumcised after a childbirth.

 

Do you know how this tradition came about?

The tradition is already old. When our male ancestors returned home from wars, their wives were more often pregnant or cradling a baby in their arms. They believed that genital mutilation was a safe preventive measure to curb a woman's desire. A notion that is outdated and should no longer have a place in our educated society.

 

Why do you think it is so difficult to break away from this ritual?

It is difficult to break away from a tradition that has become deeply embedded in the consciousness of us and is passed down from generation to generation. People have an urge to fulfil their traditions. They believe that only with circumcision a woman is a "pure" and real woman. It is also seen as part of the dowry to the future husband.

 

According to an article by Terre des Femmes, type III (infibulation) of female genital mutilation (FGM) is practised most frequently (97%). This involves partial or total removal of the labia minora and the external lips, with or without removal of the clitoris. Among the remaining 3% are all other types (I, II and IV). Find a description of each type here.

 

George, what do you do to switch off?

I love watching movies, but also documentaries or football. I also like to play football myself. I'm very open to new things, I'm inquisitive and I love to learn.

I like to travel and explore places I have never been to before.

 

What does "the diversity of people" mean in Kiswahili?

Gundua utofauti na watu wake

 
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Discover the diversity of people - a snapshot with Ellyanne

 

May 2021

 

Ellyanne (11) was born in London and moved to Kenya with her family when she was 9 months old. The kindergarten she attended wanted to introduce well-known heroes and heroines such as Martin Luther King, Mahatma Ghandi, Florence Nightingale, Mother Teresa, Uhuru Kenyatta and Wangari Maathai to the children as part of a school term project.

Ellyanne was so impressed by Wangari Maathai that her greatest wish was to imitate her and start planting trees herself. Ellyanne has set herself the ambitious goal of planting over one trillion trees! In her country and perhaps worldwide, she is the youngest ambassador for climate change.

 

Why exactly did Wangari Maathai inspire you and not Mahatma Gandhi?

Like my idol, I also love trees. I like to climb them, read, paint, or play under the shade of trees.

Wangari Maathai was a Kenyan professor, scientist, politician, and deputy minister for environmental protection. She founded the Green Belt Movement reforestation programme in 1977.

After persuading my mother to plant a tree of my own in the garden, I wanted to plant more trees. So, one tree became ten trees, and ten trees became a hundred trees. Together with different schools, we have planted over 1,3 Million trees in Kenya, Uganda and other countries. I plan to go to Ethiopia, Djibouti, Chad and others in the Sahel Desert.

 

Please tell me more about the project you started.

I founded the project "Children With Nature" together with other children and young people. Fortunately, I didn't take the doubts that adults had against the project too much to heart. Other people believed in us and supported us so that we could turn our vision into reality. 

We visit schools, spread knowledge and awareness about environmentally friendly behaviour and climate change.

The following SDG's (Sustainable development Goals) are particularly important to us: SDG 13: Climate action, SDG 14: Life under water, SDG 15: Life on land but also the Africa Union's Agenda 2063 and the Kenya Vision 2030.

 

Who taught you about climate change and the environment?

I taught myself a lot by reading and constantly asking questions. Later, scientist Dr. Jane Njuguna from the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) taught me the science of trees. Where to plant them, which species to plant, when to plant. She calls it “species site matching”

 

Ellyanne, what is your biggest dream?

To study environment law & policy & eventually become an Environment Judge. To support environment conservation at high leadership level and prosecute those who destroy nature.

 

Can you give us an insight into your daily life?

I am growing up as an only child and have 7 dogs as pets. Since we recently moved, my dogs still live in a different place than I am. I love to draw pictures, I love horses, zebras and especially leopards because they love to climb trees like I do, and I think their spotted fur is beautiful.

Growing up in a country like Kenya, I have already seen many animals in the wild. I was impressed by the herds of zebras, antelopes, buffalos, wildebeests and also carnivores like hyenas, cheetahs, lions, and crocodiles. I was amazed by the size of the elephants and river and lake hippos.

Together with friends I like to play hide and seek or stuck in the mud, I like walking in the park and in the forests, I look forward most to my birthday in July, Christmas, and Easter.

My favourite subjects at school are mathematics, science, drawing and Swahili our local language.

 
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