School Children in Medan Belize

Two of the ICOF  Tilipia Cages in Lake Azuei are designated for the school in the village of Medan Belize.  The Tilapia are a source of delicious protein for the school children and the revenues from the sale of the fish help to pay teachers salaries and for school supplies.


The children of Medan Belize

The children of Medan Belize


Ikiwa’s World – Notes from Zanzibar

Photographer Julia Cumes recently visited the ICOF Hatchery Project in Zanzibar and shared with us her images and reflections on her time with Ikawa, one of the women farmers.  Currently, the women have to walk miles to harvest wild shellfish.  A successful shellfish farm will be more accessible to Ikiwa and the other women farmers, and will provide a more dependable source of protein and income for the farmers and their families.

The remarkable photograph of Ikiwa walking across the flats will be one of the featured items in the Friends for Haiti  Silent Auction on September 8, 2012.


From Julia Cumes:

I spent time with Ikiwa while working on a story about an aquaculture project that hopes to teach rural women in Zanzibar how to cultivate shellfish as an alternative form of protein. After documenting the scientific aspect of the project in the shellfish hatchery, spending time in Ikiwa’s world really personalized the project for me and made me see the potential impact the project’s success could have on her life.

Ikiwa Abdulla walks out almost a mile onto the shellfish flats to gather shellfish in Fumba, Zanzibar. The temperature is scorching and Ikiwa, along with other women from her village, spend most of the day bent over double, digging into the sand to find clams, cockles, oysters and conchs. As Zanzibar’s shellfish stocks become more and more depleted, women like Ikiwa have to walk out further and further into the ocean at low tide to reach the wild shellfish that remain.

Over the last two winters, I spent some time in Zanzibar working on a story about an aquaculture project that hopes to help women like Ikiwa. A collaborative effort by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Island Creek Oysters Foundation, both based in Massachusetts, the project hopes to teach rural women in Zanzibar how to cultivate shellfish and help replenish shellfish stocks in a part of the world where protein is in shorter and shorter supply and economic opportunities for rural women are few and far between.

While I spent quite a bit of time documenting the scientific aspect of the project in the shellfish hatchery where experiments are being done to find the best way to cultivate a healthy, consistent local species of shellfish seed, the most extraordinary part of my experience was the time I spent with Ikiwa. Except for her cell phone, Ikiwa’s world appeared to me much as I imagined it must have been for the people of Zanzibar hundreds of years before. The home she shares with her extended family is made of stones, sticks and straw. She cooks over open fire and the house has neither electricity nor running water.

After spending a day on the shelffish flats with Ikiwa and the other women, I noticed how labor-intensive their work was and how little food they returned home with. There is a long tradition of harvesting shellfish in the wild in the coastal villages of east Africa. Typically the women who harvest them bring them back and boil them to extract meat from the shells. Without access to refrigeration, this renders the shellfish meat in a form that is relatively easy to keep for a few days without spoiling.

While the women use some of the shellfish to feed their families, they sell most of it at the daily food market. Witnessing Ikiwa’s struggle to bring home enough shellfish to feed her family and also make a small profit, the aquaculture project’s  potential impact on her life really struck me.

An update from our friend Valentin Abe in Haiti

February 27, 2012
We express our sincere gratitude to the Island Creek Oyster Foundation (ICOF) and all the people who have contributed to make the Friends of Haiti Event a great success.  Our mission is to improve nutrition for millions of Haitians and generate income for thousands while using environmentally friendly technology to produce high quality fish.  Through our programs, we pledge to oppose poverty, increase opportunities for better education and improve health conditions among the poorest.

Overall, your donation has touched the life of 240 families and increased production by forty-thousand (40,000) pounds of fish between November cialis 2011 and February 2012.

Haiti has indeed taught me lessons. I have been fortunate to share some of those lessons and my story with Skip Bennett and Shore Gregory who visited Haiti last year.  Their love and desire to help the Haitian people were overwhelming. I look forward to future collaboration with Skip, Shore and the entire ICOF family.

Again, we thank the Island Creek Oyster Foundation for the trust and support given through the venue of Friends of Haiti. I wish you continued success with your charitable work.


Dr. Valentin Abe
Executive Director,
Caribbean Harvest Foundation
Port-au-Prince, Haiti