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Get to know Issa! t1 56k
series profile: Issa Simai

Off the sun-drenched shores of Zanzibar, 40 miles off the coast of East Africa in the Indian Ocean, Issa Simai Issa spends his days as a spear fisherman, poking and prying octopuses out of their homes far beneath the sea's surface. Issa is working hard to make enough money to finish building a house made from Zanzibar's coral reef. It's slow-going: each octopus nets him only about 30 cents. Lobsters, at $30 a head, are more valuable finds, though overfishing also makes them more scarce.

The sea also brings a wage to Halima, Issa's fiancee. While most fishing is male-dominated, seaweed cultivation is a small, but growing industry for island women. Grown on strings in the shallow waters around the island, seaweed sells for about 7 cents a pound and is used for everything from ice cream to food supplements.

But will seaweed and octopus be enough to move Issa and Halima into their new home? In time, Issa thinks. As a vote of confidence, Issa has already moved out of his parents' house into one of the coral dwelling's half-finished rooms.

A day's work in the Indian Ocean.

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