Muscat: An Omani man is dedicating his holidays to help poor African schoolchildren living in the shadows of Zanzibar’s 5-star hotel resorts.
Mohammed Al Touqi, who works at Oman Outward Bound, wants to provide better homes, education and lifestyle to the people living in poor neighbourhoods, only 500 metres away from the luxurious resorts near Zanzibar’s coastline, a semi-autonomous part of the Republic of Tanzania.
The 29-year-old dedicates his holidays to travelling to poor parts of the African country, giving a helping hand to those in need.
When he first arrived, Al Touqi visited a school which was in a miserable state.
“There were no chairs, floors broken and toilets without privacy,” Al Touqi said, describing Al Nabawiyah school, which was run by five local teachers.
“Everything was in complete disaster,” he added, saying that Oman government schools look like five-star hotels compared to what he has seen there.
Moment of appreciation
“It was a moment of appreciation that shakes you as a human being,” Al Touqi, who also visited an orphanage which housed 40 children, said.
In some Northern areas, where extreme poverty can be seen clearly, Al Touqi said that 20 houses share the same water tap, which is not very safe for drinking.
“Children carry 20 litres of water on their heads to feed their families,” he added.
“While many Omanis fund charitable organisations in Africa,” says Al Touqi “few step up and actually go there physically to help the needy and experience their suffering,”.
According to the young volunteer, a student in Zanzibar schools needs only OMR60 per year to cover the tuition fees, clothes, and books.
“During a visit to a school, I’ve seen a teacher sending a little girl home for failing to pay her school fees,” says Al Touqi “She needed OMR2.6 only to register for a full term in the school,”
In cooperation with Canadian groups, Al Touqi bought 50 kgs of rice and other basic amenities for the children.
Mohammed volunteers by giving lectures to children about agricultural issues.
“I’ve seen children below 16-year-old memorising the Holy Quran,” said Mohammed, who plans more visits to the Muslim country.
He is setting up for his next volunteering trip in July, after Ramadan, and will be accompanied by more Omanis.
Group one’s trip will start on July 15 and finish on the 25th, while the second batch will visit the country between 12th and 21st of August.