Dr. Curt Rhodes
March 04, 2024
Founder's Series: Our Founder and Chief Vision Officer, Dr. Curt Rhodes, on what it means to serve the last.

Home is where the heart is.

At this table in that corner is where we talked about the next baby.

Over there are some toys that our children outgrew before the toys themselves wore out.

Here is the stove where we prepared treats to celebrate passing many a school exam.

Memories in our homes ground us in the reality of our lives – it happened here, on that day, with that person. Home is the space where life is captured and savored, a little bit at a time, day after day.

Then, suddenly, home is gone. The earthquake in the night of February 2023 changed everything for families in northern Syria. Now, home is where the heart is … broken.

Survivors of these families were immediately housed in temporary shelters – usually school buildings with enough classroom space to get a roof over peoples’ heads. Lots of logistics. Redo of facilities for showers, adding sinks and more toilets, ensuring some measure of privacy and hygiene. Water tanks to store water on rooftops. Generators for electricity. More lights to ensure security, especially for children.

But still, not a home.

Home is where you connect solid realities that you can touch with emotional realities that you feel. Where memories attach to things that remind us of the joys, and the sorrows, that are woven into our lives.

Now is the time in Syria for restoring homes. Engineers check for structural safety. Then, how many windows and doors need to be replaced. What ceilings and walls need to be repaired. Where to install water lines, sinks, toilets, showers. Electricity lines put in, for hookups to generators that turn noise into light. Logistics, logistics, logistics.

After an earthquake destroys homes, it takes years for survivors to get back to where things were. The newsworthiness of the crisis fades away. But people do not fade away. They endure. Even when losses of loved ones are irreplaceable.  In fact, you can never “get back” to how things were. But there is a future, and having your home back is a step into that future, a vital step, to get back to experiencing new hopes, with new memories in the unexpected, unwanted twists and turns of this journey of life.

We have a marvelous partner on the ground in Syria – the Syrian Society for Social Development. We are there with them. We joined them in the first days of providing food, clothing, basic hygiene necessities.

We will join them as they continue the dusty bricks-and-mortar work to repair homes. Homes for mothers who are now alone in raising their children. Homes for people who care for disabled family members and the elderly who belong with them. Homes for people who do not have the physical resources to rebuild but have the emotional resources to recreate what a home is for.

Each family is made up of heroes who will reconstruct the spaces they will call home again. The spaces where once again life can be gratefully captured and savored, where the unbearable memories of that fateful night of devastation can be woven into better memories in future days.

What a privilege it is to contribute to rebuilding homes where the heart is … restored.

News cycles have moved on. But people have endured. Now is our time to help them thrive after surviving such a catastrophe. There are hundreds of thousands of survivors in northern Syria. We are not daunted by these large numbers. Big challenges are always tackled by bite-sized actions that increase in impact. Every home restored every day is one more space for more families to grow strong again.  

The logistics of repair are now making the space for the heart to have a home. Because home is … where the heart is supposed to be.


Curt pic1
Founder & Chief Vision Officer

Dr. Curt Rhodes

Curt Rhodes has spent close to 40 years working with, and on behalf of, marginalized communities and young people across the Middle East.

As the recipient of the 2014 Dr. Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award, Dr. Rhodes was recognized by Tufts University for his demonstrated compassion and tenacity in creating a highly effective and determined organization dedicated to the survival and nurturing of the most vulnerable and disenfranchised.

In recognition of his work with marginalized youth in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and in the region, Dr. Rhodes was awarded 2011 Social Entrepreneur of the Year for the Middle East and North Africa by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.

Dr. Rhodes began his career in the Middle East in the early 1980s, as Assistant Dean in the School of Public Health at the American University of Beirut. During the 1982 invasion of west Beirut, he volunteered in a community-based clinic alongside students and friends, doing around-the-clock triage for wounded and ill civilians. That was when the seed idea for Questscope began to take shape. Living and working with people in great suffering compelled him to find a way that he and others in the Middle East could assist the most vulnerable: participating with the voiceless ones in invisible communities.

In 1988, Questscope was founded with the goal of putting the last, first. From the beginning, Questscope worked closely with local communities, identifying their aspirations and together addressing their greatest needs.