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Zanzibar Travel Guide

Meet the Man Who’s Working to Bring Hope to a Small Island

From being disowned to building an orphanage, how one man is bringing change to Zanzibar.

Zanzibar is known for its breathtaking crystal blue waters, lush palm trees, and never-ending stretches of white sandy beaches. Some tourists who visit the island are picked up at the airport by private drivers and quickly whisked off to luxurious private resorts never to venture beyond the manicured grounds until departure. These individuals do not see the real Zanzibar. They do not experience the soul and essence of Zanzibar. They also can avoid the inconvenience of noticing the suffering and struggles of the local people trying to make a living wage to support their families (while often getting waited on by those very locals at their swanky resorts).

Abdul Yazid is a Zanzibari who hopes to bring awareness to tourists and the international community of the daily struggles of his people and to make life better for them. Growing up as an orphan on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar has fueled Yazid’s determination for ensuring that future children in his hometown have access to proper education and the opportunities that education offers.

“I did not grow up living with my parents, I always lived with my grandparents because my parents had me out of wedlock,” says Yazid.

In Zanzibar, pregnancy before marriage is viewed as a sin and it brings shame on the family. Children born into such circumstances are shunned and neglected in society and often within the family.

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“They are raised by single mothers their entire lives, and most of these mothers have no jobs and find it very difficult to raise their child,” exclaims Yazid.

Yazid was fortunate enough to have been taken in by his grandparents, he was even given the rare opportunity to pursue his studies. With this being said, the majority of children with similar upbringings end up on the streets, with no help or education. This entire life experience helped Abdul Yazid envision the Yazid Foundation. Yazid is not only Abdul’s last name, it’s also an Arabic word meaning “to increase.” Yazid thought this to be the perfect name for his not-for-profit organization, as his ultimate goal is to increase joy and hope in the lives of children, orphans, single mothers, and those not as fortunate as him.

1. The author with school teachers in Zanzibar.Latifah Al-Hazza 2. The Yazid Foundation’s school is currently under construction. 3. A classroom.

At 18, Yazid had a dream to build a school and an entire program for these children, but he lacked the resources to even begin. Now 27, Yazid has made significant strides in fulfilling his dream. He spent two years working in a pet store in Kuwait to make and save enough money to be able to return to Zanzibar and start his project. Since returning in 2020, Abdul has been able to begin building a school, an orphanage, a nursery, and dorms for volunteers, from the ground up. The first of its kind on the island. Although the school is still under construction, the dorms are ready for use. So far, the dorms have two rooms and can house six volunteers. The goal is to build a larger dormitory that can accommodate up to 10 volunteers at a time–all contingent on donations. Yazid has worked tirelessly to devise volunteer and internship programs for future travelers to the island. The four buildings in progress will require approximately $100,000 USD to completely come to fruition.

The Fuoni region of Zanzibar is estimated to have more than 800 children who lack decent early childhood education. The majority of these children are orphans and less privileged children. Many have a difficult life and find it hard to attend school due to not being able to pay fees for scholastic materials such as books and uniforms. Most live under terrible conditions and are unable to afford even a single meal a day. The children of this area walk miles just to gather heavy buckets of clean water from the community well each week.

The Yazid Foundation offers three ways to get involved: by sponsoring a student to aid them with school fees, food, and clothing; volunteering in person to build and, in the near future, teach students; and donating directly to their GoFundMe page. As of date of publication, Yazid Foundation has had 12 volunteers and has helped over 40 children.

The foundation has no limits to the number of children they plan on helping. “As long as there are people willing to sponsor, donate, and volunteer, we are able to take in everyone and leave no one behind. My dream is to grow the foundation to be known worldwide and to help many more women, children, and anyone in need,” says Abdul with a mixture of enthusiasm and excitement in his voice.

For more information and ways to help, visit Yazid Foundation.