Transforming loss to legacy: two years ago I reached out to pay my respects to Rasha, Ammar Al-Shami’s mother. A few days earlier, I had moved to Boulder Colorado and was looking forward to meeting Ammar. Instead, I found myself dogsitting Ayala, his golden retriever puppy and reflecting on how I may console Rasha during this challenging time.

Over the years I have seen friends lose their children to cancer, a medical procedure, or an accident. At the height of their pain, many faced it with incredible strength and a determination to transform the loss into legacy. Mo Gawdat went on a mission to SOLVE FOR HAPPY. Dana Askari turned tragedy to charity with The Candy Cart.

Listening to Rasha speaking about Ammar, I felt a connection between his life and the lives of the students we are suppSolve for Happy: Engineer your Path to Joy – Written by Mo Gawdatorting on edSeed.
Solve for Happy: Engineer your Path to Joy – Written by Mo Gawdat

The beginning of the stage of Transforming loss to legacy:

Over the next months, Rasha and I exchanged photos and stories Ammar, of the Boulder skies that inspired him, and of the refugee youth I am working with. In short time Rasha decided to help a few in loving memory of Ammar.

Over the course of the next two years, Rasha became mama bear to all at edSeed. She knows every student’s story, stays up all night to speak with the students, their parents, and university administrators to make sure they are on track. She leads their onboarding, negotiate discounts with their universities, hosts those in the US in her home, and administers tough love when needed to get them to keep them focused. Rasha has also rallied her family and friends to support our scholars.

In 2017, I had presented edSeed at the United Nations MIT SOLVE event as a crowdfunding platform for refugee higher education. Rasha, who attended the event, transformed edSeed into something far better. edSeed today is a virtual village, where each student campaigning on the platform is surrounded by a close community of volunteers, mentors, donors, and educators led by Rasha who guides each student on their journey to success.

In addition to Rasha’s involvement with every student and the organization as a whole, Ammar Al-Shami’s fund supports 9 scholars financially.

Ammar, your mom inspires us and reminds us of your values, quest for knowledge, and yearning for justice. Your legacy lives on and lives strong.

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