One Man Makes a Difference

Zakaria El Hamel

Many people think they are helpless to improve the world because they only have modest incomes or are not well connected. Zakaria El Hamel, however, is not one of those people.

Zakaria owns a taxi in Morocco, splitting the money earned each month with the driver. Zakaria, therefore, is not wealthy, yet he has truly made the world better by deciding to do so, and by founding Youth for Peace and Dialogue between Cultures (YPDC) and spearheading the Morocco chapter of Youth for Human Rights International (YHRI).

While attending the seventh annual International Human Rights Summit in Geneva in 2010, Zakaria first became acquainted with the YHRI materials.

Understanding the need for people to be able to disseminate and receive information freely, Zakaria says, “There is a lot of control of media in Morocco. It is controlled by the monarchy, and only what they want in the media is what is then printed. So this human right is not well applied at all.” To combat this problem, Zakaria aligned himself with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and orchestrated workshops called “Right to Privacy” and “Right to Information.”

“The government in Morocco is afraid of human rights,” Zakaria says, yet in order to effect change, he and YPDC members attend human rights lectures three or four times each month. “Now that I have the YHRI materials, I show this to them so they can see that there are tools to change their approach to human rights education. … I can change people’s mentality, and then they learn what human rights are, and want them,” he says.

In 2016, Youth for Human Rights joined in partnership with the Moroccan Organization for Human Rights to teach dignity and respect for human rights to the youth of Morocco.