International Tourists. Local Jobs.


People writing on papers

Training for travel industry jobs in Tanzania.

With its coral sand beaches, turquoise sea and rich history, Zanzibar is becoming a magnet for international tourists. But beyond the resorts lies a very different reality for people living in this poverty-stricken Tanzanian island in eastern Africa. Very few of the local people have been able to get jobs in the burgeoning tourism industry, and those who do are usually relegated to low-paying server or chambermaid positions — due to lack of education or skills.

That’s where Cuso International volunteer Ishwar Persad and Canadian philanthropists Pat Alias and Alistair Pirie come in.

To help Zanzibaris develop the professional and vocational skills needed to vie for higher-paying and more sustainable jobs such as chef, accountant and manager, Pat and Alistair built the Jambiani Tourism and Training Institute (JTTI) in 2006 — using funds from their not-for-profit, Hands Across Borders Society and their own savings.

Today, more than 500 students attend JTTI for free, to earn the two-year Hospitality and Tourism diploma.

Cuso International volunteer Ishwar Persad — a travel and hospitality expert from Canada — is a volunteer teacher at JTTI. “The students here are all so committed,” says Ishwar. “But it’s not easy for them. Often the only meal they get all day is at school. They’re supporting extended families. They have to fetch water, tend a garden, come to school, go back at night, look after kids and do chores.”

Many of JTTI’s students live in small, crowded huts — with no electricity. By the time they finish their chores, they have to study by candlelight. “When a student says he couldn’t finish his homework because he ran out of candles, that’s not an excuse,” adds Ishwar.

JTTI founder, Pat Alias, says she couldn’t offer the program, and give hope to disadvantaged Zanzibaris, without the help of people like Ishwar — highly skilled and experienced professionals who volunteer their time to give marginalized Tanzanians the skills they need to change their own fates.

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