Disclaimer: This map is provided to facilitate the general location of the EAA supported projects. EAA does not have an official position regarding boundaries of or
disputed boundaries between countries.
“When I was depressed, I used to play football,” reflects Bader. “It was 2011, I was about 10 years old when my grandfather passed away. It was a shock for me.” After this tragic loss, Bader used his love for football as a coping method. With time, he was able to realize that he wanted more in life. Committed to expanding his horizons, Bader threw himself into his studies and even taught himself to learn English via YouTube. Little did this young boy know that this was the start of a journey that would take him to the World Cup.
Bader’s perseverance and belief in the power of education led him to apply for the Qatar Scholarship programme when he graduated high school. This decision allowed him to reach his goals and exceed his expectations, despite the oppressive atmosphere and stifling blockade of Gaza, which heavily limits not only the freedom of movement but of mind. “This is how we break the intellectual blockade that is put on our mind in Gaza, this is how we break walls. When I was younger, I didn't have the network to meet so many diverse people, it gives you a sense of life, but in Gaza, you feel like your incarcerated, you feel like you are in a prison.”
Qatar Scholarship opened doors for Bader, expanding his horizons beyond what he thought was possible. The scholarship, provided by Education Above All, is not limited to financial assistance, but also aims to develop students’ character, maximizing the potential of these exceptional youth to become change-makers in their communities. One of these avenues for growth are the opportunities for civic engagement offered by the scholarship. Scholars gain real word experience, which helps them define their fields of interest. For Bader, it was to create and orchestrate conferences, allowing youth like himself to join in the dialogue on critical issues impacting his society. “We would develop our own panels, in which we would have the run of the show, which means being able to moderate and move from one speaker to another.” Bader developed such a talent for this field that he was chosen to moderate panels in many different conferences, locally in Gaza and regionally. He was chosen to lead the first student-led INSPIRE Conference in Gaza in 2019, attended by over 2,900 students and 300 delegates, including representatives from local NGOs, INGOs and UN organizations. He was also selected from among thousands of youth to design and present a panel at the World Innovation Summit for Education in Qatar in 2017.
In 2021, EAA launched the Qatar Connection programme, “connecting” youth from conflict-affected regions with noted Qatari institutions such as Al Jazeera Media Institute, Qatar National Library, and QatarDebate, offering a wide range of events, webinars, lectures, and trainings. Due to his work ethic, skill in delegation, and tenacity in the face of struggle, Bader was recognized by Qatar Connection, and chosen to be a youth advocate for Generation Amazing, a major Qatari sports organization that seeks to utilize the positivity of sports to better society. This was the moment that his years of hard work and his passion for football finally aligned.
“When I was selected for Generation Amazing as a youth advocate, where I would be traveling to Qatar for the World Cup, I began crying. I immediately called my mom to tell her I was selected,” smiles Bader. “Many of my friends viewed me as an ambassador for Palestine, and this would be my opportunity to represent my country.”
The Generation Amazing event involved representatives from all 32 qualifying nations to attend workshops on how to expand the positive effects of sports and how it can promote unity locally and internationally. Needless to say, this was quite an event, one which required people with extensive skill and experience to make it happen. This was where Bader came in. “As an advocate, I assisted the coaches and youth who took part in tournaments we had, so they could feel and experience what we were talking about: unity, tolerance, and the importance of negotiating and communication skills. I assisted in the logistics team, was responsible for a group of students for lectures, and, most importantly, helped students understand how important sports are to the entire community. I used myself as an example, talking to people from all over the world and sharing my experiences, showing them how they can use the power of football in their own communities.”
For Bader, his involvement goes off the pitch of Generation Amazing, as he is determined to take what he has learned back home.
“In Gaza, organized football programmes would be an asset in vulnerable communities, but sadly the infrastructure is not there. I think we could hold workshops to present how communities could get together and help to scout local talent, so they can apply to clubs outside of Gaza. There needs to be more tournaments. Football can be a great relief, because people in Gaza suffer from frustration and depression due to the compelling circumstances and unsettling events that are the reality of daily life there. Football can help them mentally, as anyone can play football and it can recharge their energy.”
Aside from his involvement in Generation Amazing, Bader thoroughly enjoys any chance he has to come to Qatar. “As a Palestinian from Gaza, I doubt I would have been able to attend the World Cup if it hadn’t been held in the Middle East, in Qatar.” Qatar is also the home base of the organization that has become such an important part of his life, Education Above All. “I am deeply connected with Qatar in heart and mind. On my social media, I posted,
“I left my heart in Doha.” Qatar is the safest country I have ever been to in all my travels; there is a safety and comfort that I always feel when I am in Doha. I just can't imagine a year passing without visiting Doha again.”
"Humanity will not overcome the immense challenges we face unless we ensure that children get the quality education that equips them to play their part in the modern world." -- HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser