Zanzibar, an island considered as paradise to most travelers, actually needs our help. Overshadowed by crystal-clear waters and soft sand beaches, is the poverty that most visitors don’t see.
Tucked away from the wealth and tourism are schools that are run down and children that aren’t able to receive an education. Aside from exploring the beaches on the island, I traveled to Zanzibar with the intention of giving back. I chose to volunteer at an organization whose mission is to offer an education to all children. Yazid Foundation, a relatively new organization, is striving to build a brand-new school in a poverty-striken neighborhood that is lacking an education facility. Their vision is to construct a school with an attached hostel for future volunteers who would like to come teach the local children. I spent some of my days while on the island visiting the plot of land where the school’s foundations are being laid and meeting the previous land-owners who sold their land at an incredibly low cost to the foundation– they knew it was to better their grandchildren and great grandchildren.
To give a brief sense of what the school’s surrounding neighborhood is like, aside from having no school, there is no running water and no local well so the children must walk every day to a distant well to retrieve water for their entire household. I walked to this well and tested it out myself, it’s not easy. This is one of the children’s main chores when their focus should be on studying and school.
Local schools charge around 3KD for a child’s monthly fees and 5KD for a child’s initial enrollment and uniform. That’s very little for most people, but the cost is so extreme for the locals of Zanzibar that families often can’t afford to send their children to school. While Yazid Foundation is in the process of building a future for children, they are also helping local schools that are in bad condition. The foundation raises money to fix schools in other neighborhoods. This assistance includes not just books but new toilets, carpet or other items that improve the school facility, Yazid Foundation works tirelessly to support the schools in the community.
Volunteering with Yazid Foundation was an unforgettable experience. Sitting in the classrooms with these children helped me realize their struggles. These children not only value their education more than what I’ve seen in first world countries, but they were the most humble and down-to-earth little nuggets I had ever met. They offered me their pencils, books and chairs– the only items they even owned. What excited the students the most was knowing that I was there to meet THEM and I was interested in knowing all about THEIR lives. If you’ve been inspired and would like to help, Yazid Foundation offers packages that include volunteering and leisure excursions on the island. If you’re unable to travel far, Yazid accepts donations in which they will send you a receipt and photos of what your contribution was used for. An alternative option is to sponsor a student which will enable them to attend school. The joy of the later is receiving pictures throughout the month of the student’s progress. If you’re interested in helping, visit @Yazid_Fondation on Instagram.