Every school day, Ala'a wakes up her younger sister Hurayah. Together they get ready and walk to our center in rural Jordan. Here these two teen girls have learned to read and write. They've discovered a passion for art and accessory making. They've gotten a second chance at an education – and a life beyond the four walls of their home.
When Ala’a was in first grade, she came home crying because she was being teased and bullied by other kids. She couldn't take the constant rejection and refused to go to school again.
She not only no longer went to school, but she refused to leave her house entirely. Family visits, shopping with her mom, and walking around her neighborhood were all out the question.
It was also no-go for our alternative education center – at first.
Eight months ago, Ala’a and Hurayah wouldn’t have dared walk the path to our center. It's a pretty short distance, but any distance from the front door has been these sisters’ largest obstacle ever since they were born. Not because of the weather or winding paths, but because of the countless stares and judgement that have always followed them.
All others could see was their unusually small figures caused by a genetic malformation that stunted their growth. “Why are your hands like that?” “Why are you so small?” “What's wrong with you?”
Most failed to look beyond the surface and see them as regular girls who needed love and acceptance like anyone else.
Ala'a was introduced to us through a community mobilizer – a person who lives in the community and visits families to advocate for our program. With her parents’ blessing, Ala'a agreed to visit our center. Reluctantly at first because all she remembered of school was being bullied and humiliated.
But this new experience was vastly different! The girls in her class accepted her as she is. They included her in activities as an equal, loved her, and made her feel like she was one of the group. It only took a single visit before she felt like she'd entered a second home.
Hurayah followed her sister’s footsteps back when she decided not to attend school for fear of being ridiculed. Today, not much has changed. Hurayah is still following her sister’s footsteps, but this time they are leading her to a place where she is loved and accepted.