Syrian, from Harem/Dara'a; seeking Undergraduate degree in Civil Engineering and is enrolled at Zarqa University.
Hello my name is Anas Albarakat. I am a Civil Engineering Junior at Zarqa University. The story I am about to share with you is not my story. True, it is about MY future. But the hero is my mother. Without her I would have been still loading asphalt to feed my family and myself.
I was born in 2000. I have five sisters and two brothers, one older, the other younger. My older brother has cerebral palsy. My father passed away in Saudi Arabia when I was 3 years old. He left us two stores that we rented. We lived off the revenue.
I was 13 years old when we decided to open a grocery store. My mother took the morning shift, and I took over after school. I still managed to excel in my studies.
We fled to Jordan like one million other Syrians in fear for our safety. We lived in Zaatari camp. My older brother who had cereberal parsy could not adapt. Crowds agitated him. He became aggressive and would often attack other children and yell uncontrollably. Neighbors complained and we had to leave the camp. We lived in Irbid and received some subsidies that did not meet our needs.
My sisters and I attended school, but I had to work to cover my family’s expenses. Working long hours affected my grades but my mother insisted that I finish high school. She always wanted me to be a civil engineer. She went to ZU with my friends and registered me without my knowledge. On the first day of classes, she sent me off to college. I had to continue working in paving roads while attending school. It was physically so taxing.
My younger brother continued to work to support my sisters. The both attended college. One is a Pharmacy major, the other is a Pathologist/Lab technician.
I was embarassed because judging by my grades, my professors would think I was not serious.. I had no option other than to continue working. My sisters got partial scholarships to go to college and I want them to be educated. I must continue to work. Despite our financial hardships, except for my younger brother, we will all graduate college, powered by my mother’s determination to prepare us for a better future.
Dream and Mission Statement
I worked hard to separate notions of traditional dignity with having to pitch for myself. It took me a while to do that, but I also learned a lesson. One has to ask so that he/she is given. I will work on promoting the idea of crowdfunding among my peers. It takes a lot of courage and being open to different cultures to do that.
I want to fulfil my mother's dream and become an engineer. Then I want to put my younger brother to college. He is the only one who could not attend school because he was working to support the family, including my two other sisters' education.
My next plan would be to "do unto others what they have done to me". It is the golden rule that even resonates well in Islam. I will create an advocacy group to support families of persons with disabilities, and volunteer to provide respite to care providers.
None of this is possible to the fullest extent without a degree that can put me on a career path. I dream of going back to my country after graduation. I will be the local force that would build it after the destruction with local hands. I hope I can establish my own engineering firm. When and if this happen, my first act of philanthropy is to establish a fund to educate a student impacted by conflict, and another for a daycare facility for persons with disability. This is the reason why I concluded my appeal by asking my donors to help me payback what they have paid forward.
Why Would Donors Fund You?
I did not give up. I did not surrender to my cirucmsatnces. I am a fighter, willing to do what it takes to improve my life and that of my family. Anyone with half the problems that I had would have given up on life. I did not. My mom set the bar so high and I will not disappoint her.
My mother, my role model taught me to perservere. For her sake I will and will not relent until I graduate.
How Do You Plan to Payback?
Charity begins at home. Home is family, community and host countty. I want to teach my younger brother who gave up his life for us, my two sisters and myself to get the education we need. I promise to donate what I can to help another Syrian student who like myself was robbed of his childhood.
I pledge to pay back, and be the light at the end of the tunnel for someone who almost lost faith.
I will organize free of charge courses for civil engineering students who need academic support. Many miss on school because they must work to make ends meet for their families.
Volunteer Work/Social Capital
By leaving Zaatari, we did not only loose rent free living. We lost many opportunities that were available to kids my age.
International organizations offered enrichment and life skills courses to students in the Camp.
While my peers attended after school programs and had the opportunity to compete for scholarships that might improve their chances, I had to work to support my family for 10 hours, attend school and return home to help my mother in caring for my brother who had cerebral palsy.
I still managed to attend some functions at the University, volunteered to distribute iftar meals to families during Ramadan when I had time. I also volunteered for quit smoking campaings.
Failing to build a social capital was not a failure of will. This is where I found myself and I fought hard to keep going and not lose faith.
What Have You Done to Improve Yourself? Awards and Achievements
I learned to be resilient in the face of adversity. Living with a family member with severe disabilities, without adequate medical care or social protection networks is a great challenge. When you add financial need to this formula it becomes a huge challenge.
I continued to make the best of my situation, to look for solutions and to consider every small victory over my challenges a big achievement. I funded myself for 3 years in college, worked to put food on my family’s table and helped others when I could. That is how I learned what triumphing over circumstances means. I emerge more determined everyday.
Good luck Anas!