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The Zanzibar Project

The Mountain Hands project in Zanzibar aims to provide the residents of Zanzibar education and job training, as well as therapeutic treatments, using Manual Therapy and Alternative Therapies with access to all.


Natumia mikono yangu kutibuaina

mbalibali za matatizo ya kiafya.

Pia ninasomesha jinsi ya kujifunza mbinu hizi za uchuaji.

Karibuni Sana!

The Mountain Hands Zanzibar Project opened a manual therapy school from July through October of 2015 on the island of Zanzibar in Tanzania, East Africa.  The school offered job training in manual therapy to people that were otherwise unemployed, and treatments to the residents of Zanzibar.


The school was initially opened to evaluate the feasibility of the project, assess the local needs, and begin to develop a model for implementation.


In the pilot project, it was validating to see how manual therapies offered an excellent treatment option for the Zanzibari people.  Therapy is inexpensive to administer, it is safe and effective, and the need was broadly encountered.  The Zanzibaris have a historical tradition of using hands-on therapies, but in current times there is no formal training for manual therapists, and the modality is not typically used outside of the family.  The people of Zanzibar have little or no access to medical care, and manual therapy provided a viable treatment option for musculoskeletal conditions, and as well for some psychological, neurological, and digestive problems.


The school/clinic was offered space in “The Old Dispensary” - a historical building in Stone Town in the town of Zanzibar.  The building used to be the hospital, and is centrally located for easy access to all.


Outreach was all word of mouth, the cultural standard, and worked well for the closely-knit population of Stone Town.  People made appointments in person or by phone, but due to differing cultural views of ‘time’, people mostly came on a drop-in basis.  The length of sessions were modified due to the number of people waiting, or the prayer schedules at the mosques.


Teaching was arranged in modules, and students received credit for each module they completed.  Scheduling accommodated students’ varied work, religious, and home requirements, as well as varied dedication levels to the program.  Practice was organized as an apprenticeship model and students were paired according to their skill levels.


All coursework was offered in English and basic Swahili, and as needed, further translation was provided by advanced students.

In 2015 I provided training for 10 people who completed from 1 - 10 modules, each lasting about 3 hours.  And provided an average of 20 sessions per week to the local population.


The Mountain Hands Zanzibar Project is seeking fiscal sponsorship at this time to support a return to the island.  Funding is needed for instructional books, anatomical models and charts, and for massage tables.  We also need funding for the rental of office/school space, and local government fees to further establish the project.  In 2015, we did not request any financial contributions as the spirit of the project was a needs assessment.  Though seed money is needed, the school is increasing its structure, and aims to sustain itself financially using a fee-for-service model.


The project also holds the vision to accommodate other manual therapy providers and teachers, as well as other practitioners utilizing alternative therapies that can be taught and utilized in impoverished settings.

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