«When I look down the street in this village, all I can see is poverty, need, and hopelessness,» says Rune Edvardsen. During a recent visit to the island known for its exotic spices and luxurious resorts, an extraordinary story unfolded. The Dina Foundation has now taken on a new project to build a vocational training center for boys and girls on Zanzibar.
The Dina Foundation has supported monthly medical clinics for the poor on this island since 2013. On a recent trip to check up on the work that is well looked after by local doctors and supervisors, the director of the Dina Foundation, Rune Edvardsen, stumbled upon a family story that is not rare to the island. While Zanzibar is a famous tourist destination well known for its beautiful beaches, the wealth of the tourist business does not trickle down to the local population. Scattered around the island in small villages, the local population often lack basic infrastructures such as clean water and power. Jobs are scarce, and poverty is rampant.
In one of these villages, Kashra (15) and her 7 siblings live with their grandmother in a ramshackle house.
- One day as I walk down the street in a village I stumble upon Kashra. We start talking, and she politely invites me into her home. I didn’t know it then, but this girl's fate will become my motiving force for change in 2016, says Rune Edvardsen.
- Through a large hole in the roof in their house, raindrops keep hitting my head. I try not to soil my blue runners in the mud pools on the floor.
In one corner of the room, seven children are sleeping in a bundle, while the grandmother lies on a bed in closed off section. The older woman is muttering unintelligible words to herself. Kashra says that her grandmother suffered a stroke and is gravely ill.
- What I hear makes me wonder where the parents of the children are. The 15-year-old tells her story, and I understand that she is carrying an enormous burden, explains Edvardsen.
Some time ago Kashra’s mother was taken ill and sent to the hospital. The mother was never heard from again. Kashra’s father died a year ago. With the parents gone, and the grandmother severely sick and significantly reduced, as the oldest, Kashra is now responsible for her seven younger siblings, grandmother and herself.
- I am curious and ask Kashra how she takes care of her siblings and her grandmother. She says she asks neighbors if they have any clothes that need washing, and this way she earns a little here and there.
- Kashra's story shames me. Both on behalf of myself, but also in the name of my countrymen. I am ashamed of the things we complain about, Rune admits.
- At the end of the conversation, I ask Kashra what she would like to be when she grows us. Her answer hits hard: «I want to be one that help others.»
- I am touched and entirely set out. Her courage and care for others inspire me and gives me new motivation for the work we do.
- I let her know that I would like to help her and her family, and I start telling her about the Dina Foundation and our wish to build a vocational training center for boys and girls on the island. I tell her that if we can build the center, Kashra and her siblings will be the first who will get to move in. Then I give her some cash to help her in her difficult situation.
The Dina Foundation would like to keep the promise to this girl. The Foundation has already taken the first steps to raise the center.
The Dina Foundation will need much support for this project. We have already obtained a verbal building permit. To start with, we need 18,000 dollars for equipment to make bricks for the building. This money will save us great expenses, and in the future, we can use this equipment to create local work and help the poor in the village.
- On behalf of the children that do not have parents to take care of them, I am boldly asking if you will help us? The goal is that the vocational training center for boys and girls will provide a home for at least 120 children.
These children need your help today. Please help us build this vocational training center for boys and girls that can change the lives of Kashra, her seven siblings, and many others. And of course, we will make sure her grandmother gets the care she needs as well. To make a secure online donation, please click here.
Read more about the project and see photos.