Tanzania Safari: SHANGA-ING with a Purpose!

Tanzania African Safaris aren’t always all about the animals

Shanga Shop, Tanzania African SafariShanga Shangaa, meaning “Beads Amazing” in Swahili, is a small business located in the city based near Arusha in Tanzania Africa.  It employs 42 disabled, mute and deaf people.  They produce some of the most amazing items, including beautiful beaded necklaces, silk, kangas (shawls), and many many beautiful colored fabrics.

As you walk down these beautiful stepping stones shanga shop, stepping stones, Tanzania African Safari(which I would have loved to have been able to bring home), also made by the workers at this factory, you can spot some of the unusual products and crafts that are made here.

But, it won’t be the same as a visit in person to watch what these disabled, challenged and disadvantaged folks can do. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every city provided a service like this, a worthwhile project to those who might otherwise lead unproductive lives. What a ray of hope and sunshine this is for these wonderful people. Because of this program, workers are able to feed their families, live productive lives and receive such great appreciation from the tourists that visit them.

Shanga Shop, glass, Tanzania African Safari

Employees are actively encouraged to use their creative skills during their working day in developing new Shanga designs. They are also offered basic reading and writing tuition on a weekly basis by a teacher paid for by the business. The entire experience is heart-wrenching as well as heart-warming.  Won’t you join me for your own personal visit?

Shanga Shop, glass, beads, Tanzania African SafariThe directors will only deal with organizations that provide fair employment conditions to staff.  They must include a fair salary and related conditions, not always enjoyed in the developing world. This benefits everyone.

A Visit to Shanga

A visit to Shanga is one of the many things that Destined To Travel clients are always able to enjoy.  To sit and watch someone who is deaf, blowing glass and Shanga Shop, glass, beads, Tanzania African Safarimaking the most beautiful ornaments is heart-warming; to watch others with severe mental or emotional challenges still be able to be a productive person in life is something that able-bodied people may never understand, but cannot help appreciate.  The workers may be deaf, disadvantaged, or disabled, but their voices, their work, their smiles speak volumes.

On one trip, I had a father and daughter team with me in the group.  She was 13, living in Peru and had come to California to visit her dad.  His gift to her was a Tanzania safari on the beautiful and vast plains of the Serengeti. On this visit to Shanga, Andrea, the young 13 year old, had wanted to purchase a pillow she had admired. It was in the shape of an elephant, but they didn’t have one with an embroidered rose on it in the color she wanted.

What do you think they did?

Shanga Shop, glass, beads, Tanzania African SafariThey didn’t tell her, I’m sorry, we have no more like that. They told her that they would check and see what they had available.  A young man in a wheelchair who obviously had severe physical challenges, which made it difficult for him to stay still, wheeled himself around to the area where there were fabric scraps. He searched the bins until he found that scrap with the rose he needed to match my guest’s choice of color. They brought it to her and asked her if she liked it. Andrea loved it.  She could not figure out what they would do, because it was only a scrap of cloth. At first, she thought they might just give her the scrap. Instead, they invited her to the sewing area to watch.

We watched him as he carefully and meticulously cut that rose, all the while shifting back and forth in his chair.  He was determined to do it and he did.  Then he gave it to another lady who was sitting at the sewing machine.  She was unable to speak, but she sat down in front of a sewing machine, stitched the elephant ear and then sewed it to the elephant pillow.  WOW, what an experience that was, all to please my 13-year old guest. We all had tears in our eyes, as we watched this speechless woman carefully craft this elephant ear and put it all together. My guests were amazed and promptly rewarded all who were involved with huge gratuities to show their appreciation.

Shanga Shop, glass, beads, Tanzania African SafariThis sign posted on the wall at Shanga says it all.  And, in the end, it was a speechless experience for all of us speech- enabled gawkers.

You may purchase your own unique items here: The Africa House

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