A family with no education. Strike One.
A family in need of a few more dollars, just to make it. Strike Two.
Quitting school to work in an aluminum window company. Strike Three.
Or is it?
Zakaria dropped out at age 14 to get those few more dollars for his family. Working all day bending aluminum into window frames for clients’ kitchens left him no time for friends. Or for school. Shy. And quiet-spoken.
His employer, Abdullah, also had Strike Three against him. He went to work at an early age instead of going to school, and he did not want that story repeated in Zakaria’s life.
He encouraged Zakaria to enroll in our alternative education program. He gives him permission to leave work for two hours every day for the classes. And he pays him the same wage as if he were bending aluminum frames. Wait! What?
Abdullah knows what it means to have a champion to back you. To believe in you when no one else does. To shoehorn you into opportunities like only a champion can do.
Zakaria is starting to read and write. He has friends. And he intends to complete 10th grade and vocational training. He wants to own his own small business. Oh, and he is not so shy now. He is going places.
Abdullah is also going places – with us. He is a highly articulate advocate for this alternative education opportunity. He is on the community committee for our alternative education program. And he talks to other employers about the benefit of supporting the education of young people working for them. Everybody wins.
Alternative education succeeds when a young person senses that there is a second chance. It succeeds when a champion supports that young person. And it succeeds when the community comes around those two individuals and makes it possible for others.
Every one of us gets a couple of strikes against us in life. No one should get Strike Three. Alternative education provides an option to striking out. And Abdullah is convinced of this. Even as he convinces others.