By FREDDY MACHA
Turning your life around or as the African American writer, James Baldwin wrote in an essay for the New York Times in 1962: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
That expression suits Layla Mohamed Yahya. She flew from Zanzibar to the UK to get treatment for a defect in her heart. After treatment she settled here, studied, built a family and then boom!
Through her daughter, Nawal, life moved to another dimension or as musicians say, “went to the bridge.” Layla and family would take the child back home, in Zanzibar, regularly. Aged only seven, Nawal was very touched upon seeing the condition of children in Zanzibar.
Not all attended school and the main cause was poverty. Nawal convinced her mum to kick start a campaign to help these youngsters. That is how Bigger Heart was born in 2009.
Since then, Bigger Heart has swung into an awesome Swansea based charity sending all kinds of help to Zanzibar. Swansea is known as the famous football team in Wales, but now has an added twinge from East Africa.
There are a couple of Diaspora based Africans running charities helping folks on the continent. I know Abiodun Enilari Paseda a Nigerian who helps disabled people. His Focus on Disability Foundation is so dedicated to the course that it has not stopped during the pandemic.
In May 2020 he made a plea to the Nigerian government saying despite us being told we need to wear masks, wash hands and social distance, disabled people need more. Another is Tanzanian Asseri Kitanga who before the onset of Covid-19 had (through the charity Computers 4 Africa) made 123, 750 children in different parts of Africa have access to computers.
Lydia Olet from Kenya who uses her Malaika Dance group as a charity arm too. The hard-working lady has three charities one which she runs through the Kenya in the Park project in London. So it is no wonder Bigger Heart, is trending , shall continue trending and....and... And trends that benefit.
A major section of Bigger Heart work is health and education. In education (steered by Layla's daughter - now in her late teens) there is an exchange of pupils between Wales and Zanzibar. While children in Zanzibar study English their opposites in Swansea, learn Ki-Swahili and other positive values from Zanzibar.
This sort of collaboration not only helps the youngsters but also sets the tone. If we let impressively, young citizens grasp and ingest virtuous, righteous, quality things from one another it is a huge investment to future communities and nations. Living in harmony and peace helps transform economies thus making our planet a much better place to live.
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Freddy Macha is a Tanzanian born, London based writer and musician.