Palestinian, from Gaza; seeking Undergraduate degree in Dentistry and is enrolled at Ain Shams University.
I am Mariam, a 20 years old Palestinian girl from Gaza.
Gaza is not only my birthplace. Gaza lives in me as much as I live in it. I identify with its identity and suffering and have over the years learned to become like it: defiant, resilient and determined to overcome.
Gaza has been under siege for over 14 of the 20 years of my life.
I often wonder why and how I grew to be the free person I am today. I need to look no further than my father: my hero and role model. I was daddy's girl, and he was my guru. From him I learned how to nurture my dreams, believe in them and chase them until they become a reality.
I left Gaza to Turkey knowing that I might not be reunited with my family and friends for a very long time.
I have always wanted to be a dentist.
I have 5 siblings: two sisters and three brothers. My younger brother used to get sick often and suffered seizures. He was treated with antibiotics at a young age, which caused his teeth to become yellow. His yellow teeth made him so uncomfortable , insecure with very low self-esteem. He never smiled and rarely talked. He was quiet and rarely mingled with other kids. My father could not afford the treatment he needed. His income had to support more urgent family needs. Eventually, my dad was able to get him the required treatment. The shy and aloof kid had a 180-degree turn. He became more open, always laughing and making jokes. It hurts so much that he could have had a normal happy childhood had my family been able to afford this treatment.
Since then, I made up my mind to become a pediatric dentist, so that no child will ever suffer psychological trauma for an insignificant reason like this.
My father encouraged me to learn to play Oud, Guitar and Piano. I attended the Edward Said National Music Institute - Beir Zeit branch. The institute was half an hour away from our home, quite a distance by Gaza's standards. I had to attend night lessons after school. Year after year, my father and my older brothers used to drive me and wait for me until I finished rehearsals. Music has been my passion for as long as I can remember. I have been playing Oud for 8 years and it remains my favorite instrument. It helps me explain feelings that I cannot communicate through words. By holding the oud close to my chest I feel I am able to release all my inner negative energy .
I also was a member of the Sununu Choir. Our performances featured songs from the Palestinian national heritage. We wanted the children of the world to hear the message of Palestinian children who wanted to enjoy a peaceful life.
I also mastered the Palestinian Dabka and have been dancing since I was a kid. I was part of a Dabka Group. We performed on many occasions in Gaza.
I am a B student. My high school average was 81, which only entitled me to enter the parallel program in Gaza. My tuition in Gaza will be three times more expensive than a college tuition in Egypt. Paradoxically, my job prospects will be my much better if I were a graduate of a university in Egypt.
I got 50% tuition discount to study dentistry at Ain Shams University School of Dentistry. This is the third time I got admitted to a college in Egypt, with 50% tuition discount. . But unless I enroll this year, I will lose this opportunity for good.
My discounted tuition comes to $2,250. In addition, I need $3,100 to cover transportation and living expenses annually, and a one-time airline ticket of $500.00.
I cannot wait to fulfill my life’s dream and become a pediatric dentist. Bro, I assure you no other kid shall be robbed of a smile and childhood because of his yellow teeth again in Gaza.
AbuHashish smile and giggle pediatric dentist practice is coming to Gaza soon.
Why Would Donors Fund You?
- I am an achiever and a fighter. Many organizations in Gaza have put their faith in me. I have been tested and time and again was able to prove myself worthy of the trust and the investment that was made. From learning music and dance, to balancing education, talent and community service, I believe I have proven myself worthy of the trust. I was able to see beyond the bars that were tightened around Gaza and managed to seek a better future for myself.
- I believe we that education is a human right; I am entitled to a proper education and a decent life. Few Palestinian girls succeeded in pursuing serious extra curricular activities - dance and music, and still managed to pursue their education. Palestine deserves nothing less. That was the mission of the late Edward Said. Music is the language of peace and understanding.
- I know that my education is a community service. I will pay back with interest. Your investment is an investment in the smiles of children who had their share of misery. Your investment in me is an investment in the future of my community.
How Do You Plan to Payback?
I want to have my own clinic and build a good reputation as a dentist in Gaza.
In my hometown, there are so many people in need. Just the idea of helping my people makes me want to pursue this profession . There is no way to do this without you. Only with your help I will be able to succeed.
I will have a Giggle and Smile Day where I will offer free treatment to children whose families cannot afford to pay. Every child is entitled to smile. Happiness is a human right also. I say so.
Volunteer Work/Social Capital
- I was a leader in YMCA "Young Men's Christian Association" Gaza camp for 5 years.
- I volunteered as an English teacher in the British Council-Gaza for children (between 5-12 years).
- I volunteered at Amideast-Gaza for 1 year.
- I am an Amideast Access Program alumni, class of 2017. The English Access Micro-scholarship (Access) Program provides a foundation of English language skills to talented 13-20 year-olds from economically disadvantaged sectors through after-school classes and intensive sessions.
- I was an assistant manager for a nonprofit organisation ( NuTof ) for 6 months.
- I volunteered in New Scoop Company for planning weddings.
- I was also an assistant Supervisor at Fata (Youth) Center.for the best annual youth volunteer award.
What Have You Done to Improve Yourself? Awards and Achievements
- I was among few valedictorian students chosen to participate in the Bridge Palestine program. I spent over 100 training hours in Academic English language learning , 64 hours of critical thinking and science training and 120 hours of Youth Empowerment and Career Counseling- First summer school November 2015 - August 2016.
- I participated in "Pre-college counseling mentorship and fostering talents program" in Gaza Strip 2017- Bridge Palestine
- I have successfully completed 76 of 85 hours of Pre-college and test preparation as part of the Bridge Palestine summer camp from 2 to July 27, 2017
- I earned a certificate of invaluable participation during the Bridge Model United Nations for which I trained for 21 hours. The actual MUN was held on 12/9/2017 at Al-Mashtal hotel- Gaza.
- I attended a 30-hour training program in "Developing self and life skills" from 2-5 and 16-19 April,2017.
- In 2015, under the auspices of Al-Taawon Organization, “Natuf” ran a college prep program for students of Gaza to hone their skills and increase their chances of enrolling in universities abroad. 400 students were chosen from a pool of 1000 applicants. Eventually only 40 students remained in the program. We received training in English language skills, Public Debate, Model UN and Environment & Community Development. I also participated in Al Naizak project to sharpen my scientific, technological, and leadership abilities.
- Related links: https: //youtu.be/9plTVf-go6M