Everyone is born looking for someone looking for them. A newborn immediately focuses on her mother’s eyes at the distance of the crook of her mother’s arm. Even our elbows get us to focus on the one focused on us. It’s baked in.
But what if we find that no one is looking for us? We stop looking. But I think we sneak timid peeks from time to time to see if, somehow, someway, someone is looking. For us.
Mahmoud was one of those timid peekers who found someone looking for him. For his first 13 years, his undiagnosed autism and the confusion it caused him and everyone around him was too much. He never went to school. He never learned to read. He never, well hardly ever, looked beyond the walls of his room. But he peeked anyway. Couldn’t help himself. Baked in.
A friend told his father one day about a place where kids like him were welcomed to learn. So he walked six miles to a Questscope Non-Formal Education (NFE) Center, on the off-chance that someone might be there looking for him. And someone was there! A teacher who befriended him in a world of words, ideas, and inspiration.
Whatever interested him in whatever way he wanted to learn about it, his teacher was ready to go! If he wanted to talk, his teacher wanted to listen. If he wanted not to talk, his teacher wanted to listen anyway. He excelled! And wilder things than anyone imagined happened! Mahmoud discovered his brain power and people who would invest in him to develop it.
Today, he is in the 4th of seven years of Med School at the Hashemite University. Imagine!
What if no one had been there, looking for him? No one skilled to respond to him wisely? No one to befriend him in the intricacies of jumping through the hoops of getting an education?
But someone was there! Someone made possible by you. By friends like you.
It is you, who back our teachers to spark learning in generations of young people like Mahmoud. You, who support volunteers who look for people looking for them. Friends like you, supporting our relentless pursuit of quality – collecting and analyzing data for evidence to guide better decision making with students and families.
You are the ones who help us restore refugee youth to a hopeful future. The ones who transform zero-income women into small business owners for alternatives for their 14-year-old daughters instead of marriage. The ones who make learning into a path up and out, where there was no path before.
Who would have ever dreamed that a young physician would be “hidden” inside a kid who hid alone in his room for 13 years? Who would have imagined that investing $5.20 a day in his education ($1,900 for a year) would get him into Med School?
Or that the same $1,900 would start economic independence for a refugee woman and her children? Or that a young woman who once could not read, write or do arithmetic could build a career in digital technology?
All of this is possible, has been possible, will be possible because you stand with them, with us. You can “adopt” future success options for any of these young people. $158 for a month. $950 for half a year. Or $1,900 for a full year.
Come, imagine with us! Double-dream with a whole bunch of Mahmouds! The next generation will be even more surprising!
PS Mahmoud recorded a personal message for you about his experience with us - click here