Our volunteers, Malaika and Leila, worked with the older group formerly from Mazizini as well as the young adults currently residing there. They spoke with many of them to get their perspective on the purpose of the transition house. We told them their ideas could be shared with a larger global community, and they told us they will each share their personal story too. We were given permission to transcribe their stories which are below.
Khamis, 26 years old
Khamis was 14 years old when he was brought to the orphanage with this three younger siblings. They were brought there after their father and step-mother passed away. In the year of 2012, at the age of 21, Khamis had to leave the orphanage, but he did not know where to go. One of the matrons decided that Khamis could come and stay with her and her family. He stayed there one and a half years, even though the matrons sons wanted him to leave and gave him a difficult time. While he was there he had to sleep on a very thin mattress with the chickens, and they often left him without food. He was happy to be able to get help from his siblings and have them to rely on.
From 2012 to 2014 Khamis learned how to build roofs and also how to fix motorcycles. He got a job as a mechanic, which he still does today. With his education and skills, he is able to rent a room to live. After leaving Mazizini, Khamis faced a lot of challenges such as finding a job, and finding a place to stay. He said, he felt like a chicken: running, but not knowing where he is running.
His dream is to finish building a house with his siblings. Unfortunately, right now there is no money to keep on building it. They hope to be able to live together and eventually start a family chicken business. Khamis says that the transition house is very important for the kids who get out of Mazizini. Especially for those without any living family members. “Most of the kids do not know where to go after leaving Mazizini. They need a safe place to live. Living in a transition house can allow you to focus on your studies or finding a job without worrying about a place to stay or to find food to eat”
Mossi, 25 years old
With the passing of Mossis parents at only the age of 10, she was taken to Mazizini to live. She lived at Mazizini for 15 years. When she left the orphanage, the government found a place for her to stay. One challenge that she faced was the inability to find a job. Although the government found her a place to stay, and food to eat she was given no money for anything else, making it very difficult for her. She believes that the transition house would be a good idea as it would take the stress out of those whom are 18 and have to leave to find a place to stay. It allows them to be reassured and to know they will be in good conditions. Her vision for the transition house is to have her along with others that have left to be the brothers and sisters to those living in the transition house to provide mentorship and responsibility.
Farid and Farida, 21 years old
"We arrived at the orphanage 7 days after birth. Our mother lived in poor conditions and was not able to take care of us twins, so she decided to give us away. Our father abandoned her when she was pregnant. Both of our parents are still alive, our mother still lives in very difficult conditions and our father got married again and had children"
Farida left the orphanage at the age of 19. She had to leave, but did not know where to go. Her uncle told her to come live with him but instead Farida decided to live with one of the matrons of Mazizini. She is still currently living there and was raised by the matron like her own child. Farida finished school, but her results were not good, due to her lack of English. She studied very hard.. One year after school she had the chance to take computer classes and learned how to sew. Unable to afford a sewing machine, Farida unfortunately had to give up sewing. She then went on to learn how to do henna and make-up. One of the challenges she faced was the ability find customers as she lives in a rural area. Today, she is in training to become a mother at Mazizini. Farida dreams of opening her own salon and to become a make-up artist. Even though Farida could go live with one of the matrons after leaving the orphanage, she believes that a transition house is significant. “There is always something that could go wrong and you can find yourself on your own. With the transition house there will always be a place to rely on. You will find your family and will not have to worry to be alone”
Farid had to leave the orphanage at the age of only 17 years. Him along with others, were given short notice and had to leave within 2 days. Farid was afraid, because he did not know where he could go. He was brought to an uncle, but felt very lonely. Daraja Foundation connected him to Zanzibar Learning 4 Life Foundation, where he joined Chakula Hai, did various training, including English classes, computer classes and worked at the bike shop. Today Farid works in a local restaurant and lives with a friend. He enjoys his work in a restaurant, but his dream is to become a soccer player. Thanks to Daraja Foundation and ZL4LF, Farid was able to get skills, find a job and now he can work and earn money. Both foundations helped him through a difficult time. He wishes that Daraja Foundation could connect the kids to sports clubs abroad and open them opportunities in sports. The transition house is an important idea for Farid. “It can bring people back together, who are already family. You would not have to worry when you get out of Mazizini. It could help you to prepare for your future and there could be a little business, like selling fruits or vegetables. Daraja is very important for us”.
Khalfan, 19 years old
"I was brought to Mazizini orphanage at the age of 7 or 8 years old by my mother and aunt. Given the economic difficulty in Tanzania, it is not uncommon for kids at orphanages to be there because they're parents cannot afford to take care of them. This happened to be the case for me". Although Khalfan describes his actual experience at the orphanage as "not the greatest," he can't let go of the fact that he met some of his closest friends there, whom he would consider his siblings now.
Khalfan shares the same story of Hamad in terms of why he left the house prematurely. They were forced to leave due to a disagreement, between the matron and the youth. Khalfan was sent to stay with his aunt which was short lived. "She had kids of her own. I also dont think her husband liked me very much" says Khalfan. Through Daraja's close relationship with Zanzibar Learning for Life Foundation (ZL4LF), Khalfan started to spend more time at the school, ending up staying there full time instead of his aunt's house. He spent 2 years strengthening his English, participating in the various clubs at ZL4LF and was attempting to finish high school .
Khalfan also began working in a children's playground as a facilitator full time. The lack of income and financial support led Khalfan focusing his more of his time on work rather than school. "I really tried to go to school regularly, but sometimes I wouldn't have money for bus fare. Often times I would have to choose between going to school or buying a meal. "
Khalfan had a variety of employment opportunities and enrolled in some skills based educational programs. He participated in the Global Bridges program under the nutrition club to get a certificate to work in the service industry. He was able to train at various different restaurants and a hostel at one point as well. In 2016, Arsheen requested to see if Khalfan could help her get a few international volunteers situated in town at the volunteer house because she was unable to at the time. What was supposed to be a night's work turned into a full-time job for Khalfan. His caring nature, attentiveness and sheer respect for the Daraja Foundation has resulted in him becoming a volunteer facilitator at the Daraja Volunteer House. "In the beginning it was challenging because everybody that comes to Zanzibar has different ideas of what to expect. These challenges have taught me how to problem solve now."
Khalfan has grown a strong passion towards making people new visitors feel comfortable when they come to visit Stone Town. With the advice of Arsheen and some friends, Khalfan applied for sponsorship to attend tour guide training at Kawa Training Center, where he recently graduated from. He was also trained to stand up paddle with 2 Winds Paddle Sports, and was hired as a SUP tour guide once he graduated.
Khalfan shows great appreciation for all the support he's received through Daraja and ZL4LF. "Things could have ended up very differently for me if I did not have Daraja to help me when I got kicked out of the orphanage." He understands that everyone faces challenges, which is why he feels so strongly towards this transition house. He shares his value of youth needing a place to go to with good structure after the orphanage so that they can truly begin gaining skills for independent living. He sees the house as a place where whoever is living there is always working towards something.
"It shouldn't be a place where people come to just live. They come to live so that they can work on whatever goals they have whether it be education related or career related". In saying that Khalfan also strongly believes that if youth at the transition house should never be displaced like he was. "Everyone has a story. Kicking someone out is not going to help them or us understand this story. We should always try to find out first why someone isn't succeeding."
Khadija, 18 years old
"I was a toddler when I was brought to the orphanage in Forodhani, before it moved to Mazizini. My mother was living in difficult life conditions and could not take care of me, but I don’t remember very well why or when exactly I was brought there. Now that I am 18 years old, I will have to leave any time soon. I am scared everyday that suddenly I will be asked to leave. I am not sure where I can go, and I am scared because I don’t know what to do outside of the orphanage. I do hope I can finish school and I dream of becoming an architect. For me a transition house is important. As any young adult in the world, we all need support in order to find a job and make a living. It can help those of us who do not know where to go, and could learn to live outside of the orphanage and be secure until we can be on our own"
Fadhil, 20 years old
I was brought to Mazizini orphanage with my siblings at the age of 3 or 4, I don’t remember it very well. I was taken here due to my parents passing away. At the age of 16 I had to leave the orphanage, I was given 2 days notice to leave with other boys. I knew I could stay with my grandmother, but I was worried about what will happen to me and what the future will be like. I was connected to Zanzibar Learning 4 Life Foundation through Daraja Foundation. I joined Chakula Hai and did various training in different restaurants. Today I work in a restaurant and I enjoy it a lot. I do have a dream of opening my own barber shop one day, with the help of a loan from Daraja Foundation.
In my opinion, a temporary house would be useful to save money. There will be a little rent to pay maybe or maybe there will be no rent to pay, we will see and figure it out. It makes a big difference if you pay a lot for your rent or not. It can really help you to save money and to start into your future with some savings. And also we could all share our food"
Mulhat, 18 years old
I was 3 years old when I was arrived at the orphanage. I was brought there due to my father passing away and my mother who could not get support, so my mother decided to bring me to the orphanage. Until today my mother still visits me and I visit her. Since I have already turned 18, I will have to leave the orphanage any day. At the moment, I am in boarding school and for most of the year I am not living at Mazizini.
I am not sure about my feelings around leaving the orphanage. I know I can live with my mother, but it would bring some difficulties to her too as my mother doesn’t have a permanent home. The Transition House would be a great opportunity.
My biggest worry is not knowing exactly when I will be asked to go, and I worry that from the time you are told, you have a few days or weeks to plan. I do feel safe for now that I had the opportunity to be in boarding school. I dream about having a good life and studying law, so that I can support my community and do good things for our society. With the transition house, you will not face as many problems as you would being on your own. It creates a safe place for all the kids who have to leave and it takes a away a big worry that we are all facing when we turn 18 years"
Lailat, 25 years old
"I don’t remember how old I was when I came to live at the orphanage in Forodhani, although I was very young. And I don’t know the exact reason. When I had to leave the orphanage at the age of 20, I didn’t know where I would be going. I was brought to someone who I was told was my mother, it was my first time meeting my mother and my siblings. It felt like she was a stranger to me, and it was hard to live in this new family and siblings.
After three months I got married and left my mother’s house. Today, I am divorced and live alone with my two sons of 4 and 1 and a half. I always wanted to continue my education, but when I got married I didn’t have the time or money to go to school. I struggle everyday to build a stable life for me and my sons, everyday I face challenges. My dream is to have a home and a good life for my little family.
The transition house is so important. The kids need it to have a place to go when they get out. They will learn to make a living and there will be a roof over their heads. They can help each other for any kind of problem or matter.
Mafunda, 32 years old
"At the age of 5 years I came to live at the orphanage, however initially it was at Forodhani, but transitioned to Mazizini when the new building was ready. I left to go live with my mother and brother, at the age of 28. It was difficulties that arose from my family life that pushed me towards living at the orphanage. I am currently working for the Ministry of Labour and Empowerment for Women and Children. One of biggest challenges that came with leaving was finding a job. The transition house, I believe is a good idea as some of those who leave the orphanage have nowhere to go, and it would provide them with a safe place to be, diminishing their worries. I believe that the transition house should be organized with good leadership, where everyone can learn about their own independence and accountability. I greatly wish that at the time when I left Mazizini that there was a transition house for me to go to, and at the same time it is good to know that it might be a future option for the young adults now.
Amina, 24 years old
Amina arrived in 2004 at the age of 10 at Mazizini orphanage (former: Forodhani orphanage) with her three brothers (Khamis, Hamad and Fadhil). Her father and stepmother passed away. Her mother died before.
Amina stayed at Mazizini for 8 years and had to leave the orphanage after her exams in 2012. She knew that she could stay with her grandmother but she also knew that she would face difficulties. Amina wanted to help her grandmother financially but her aunt refused to let her go to training, so that she could find a job. In that same year, 2012, her grandmother passed away and Amina was on her own.
She went to Dar-es-salaam, where she lived with a woman. This woman promised Amina to support her so that she could repeat her exams, because Amina wanted to reach better results and improve her chances to further her studies. After working as a housemaid for a while, Amina wanted to know about her studies, but the woman told her that Amina is just in Dar-es-salaam to work. Disappointed from the fact that she won’t study Amina took her salary and stayed with an aunt in Dar. But after spending all of Amina's money, the aunt just told her to leave the house. With the help of her older brother Khamis, she found a place to stay and was able to have a little business on her own as selling eggs, soup, breads and kachori. One of her customers, who really liked her soup, helped her to get a job at the airport. After a month she got an offer to work in a hotel, where she still works today.
Amina got pregnant and his fighting everyday for her son (one year and eight month) and herself. During her pregnancy she got support from Daraja Foundation and ZanAid Clinic, which she said, was very good for her, since she was on her own.
In 2016 Amina was able to open a salon with a loan from Daraja Foundation, but her staff would steal from her and unfortunately she had to give it up.
Today Amina dreams of having her own business with her friend Salama. They would like to have a catering service and cook for weddings, birthdays and other celebrations. She also dreams about having her own brand.
Amina faced a lot of difficulties when she left Mazizini orphanage, that is why a transition house is important. "You will have a home to stay in, which is helpful in the beginning to save money for your future. You stay with your family from Mazizini, you live with people you know and you love and who love you as well"
Hamad, 21 years old
Hamad arrived at Mazazini Orphanage with his siblings at the age of 4. Born in Dar Es Salam, Hamads father had passed away from illness. His mother remarried and also passed away after experiencing a violent incident while pregnant. It was a close family friend that had brought Hamad and his siblings over to Zanzibar to what would be their new home.
Hamad spent most of his childhood and teenage years at Mazizini, making the best of an unfortunate situation. He became close and built solidarity with many of the other youth also living there. "We all became family" says Hamad. Unfortunately, Hamad was forced to leave the orphanage prematurely. As a result of a disagreement, a few of the teen boys, 1 of the boys being Hamad, were forced to leave the orphanage.
Hamad continued; "I felt broken. Those people in there were my brothers and sisters and I had to leave them." After leaving the orphanage, Hamad's grandma's friend took him in to give him a place to stay. "They are nice to me, but there are lots of other children there. Sometimes there isn't enough food for all of us".
Hamad's life experience is what makes him feel so strongly towards the concept of a transition house. Given the constraint on resources and staff, orphanages often lack life skills preparation. Hamad envisions a transition house a place that can prepare youth for adult life. "I feel whoever is staying in the house should be working towards some type of goal." Whether it be going to school, job training, participating in life skills programs (like money management) or business programs. Hamad also sees living in the house a preparation skill in itself. "I definitely don't think we should have a matron or staff to take care of us. This could end up repeating the cycle at the orphanage, we needed that growing up, but now we need to learn to live on our own." Hamad sees the house set up with peers, or big brother and big sisters to help the younger youth who have aged out or left the orphanage for unforeseen reasons. Hamad feels learning how to manage a house together (cleaning, cooking, general maintenance, shared spaces, dealing with potential conflicts), is alone, a valuable skill to learn.
Hamad shows great value in the community he's built and maintained while at the orphanage and now that he has left. He hopes for the same sense of community for those that end up involved with the transition house. He feels that even when youth leave the house to live independently, that they should still be involved. "Maybe they can commit to teach a subject that they were able to learn while here, or be a mentor to the younger youth, or give back monetarily, monthly, to keep the house running." Currently, Hamad is studying at Kawa Training Center, off of a sponsorship, to work in the restaurant industry. Him and his siblings are also working on building a house so that they could can reunite and live together again.