The tougher it is, the better it is!
Maisara was born on 06 May 1996 in one of Gaza’s oldest and busiest neighbourhoods, Al-Daraj. For him, being the person he is now at 23 was beyond his wildest dreams. Neither of Maisara’s parents managed to complete their school education— Maisara’s father was a taxi driver, and his mother was a housewife.
Being the “kid in the middle”, in a relatively small Gaza family of five, three girls and two boys, Maisara began his life as a child who would deny his dreams for the sake of others. Maisara, laughing, knew, “I was not the eldest to get the most attention, or the youngest to be the most spoiled!” However, it didn’t take long for Maisara to learn how to defy the constraints and break the limits imposed on him. His family moved to a quieter neighbourhood (Tal Al-Hawa) when Maisara was 14. This brought more challenges, but also new experiences. Maisara, who admits that relocating was one of the toughest experiences of his life, notes, however, that it was also a chance, “to start over, with new friends and new opportunities, new hopes and dreams”.
When it Rains, it Pours
In high school, Maisara developed a passion for English. However, he could not find the guidance or the chance to venture beyond the classes given at school. During this time his father lost the ability to continue his work as a taxi driver, due to his deteriorating health, and his eldest brother, Ahmed, began studying at the university. These events placed immense financial and psychological pressure on the whole family. Complicating matters, Gaza’s political situation was aggravated by a worsening economic climate—there were almost no jobs, a skyrocketing rate of unemployment, and an increasing desire to migrate among youth.
Al Fakhoora - A Lifeline
“Even when I was determined to work harder, the ghost of paying my university fees would always haunt me. I desperately needed guidance, and training too.” Maisara considered Al Fakhoora a second birth. The grant, which covered his financial costs for attending school, including all university fees, provided him with the motivation and opportunity to pursue his studies. He was finally able to get the training he needed, and be a part of the atmosphere of competitiveness he always looked forward to.
Maisara believes the three components of the Al Fakhoora program that helped him the most were the 100 hours voluntary work at local organizations, the group initiative he was a part of (“From Kitchen to Garden”) and, most importantly, the training he and his friends received. “My friends tell me I am lucky because someone else paid my tuition fees. I tell them that is only the tip of the iceberg. I tell them that the life-changing training sessions, the networking, and the community service were equally, if not more, important”. Maisara is particularly thankful to Al Fakhoora for the life skills, leadership, and management training, which helped shape his career and future goals.
Internship and Career
With an unemployment rate of over 50%, one is lucky to find a job in Gaza. Maisara, with the capacity building and advocacy skills provided by MA’AN Development Center, as part of the Al Fakhoora scholarship, was lucky to gain the necessary training required to make him qualified for an internship at Qatar Charity.
A major stumbling block graduates in Gaza face is the gap between mostly theoretical university learning and the skills needed for the labour market. The Career Day training organized by MA’AN, and the on-the-job training as an intern, both contribute to bridging this gap. Thanks to Al Fakhoora, Maisara, therefore, had an advantage over his peers. and that is why he was able to compete and find a job within five months of his graduation, although most of his friends are still struggling to find one.
“At Qatar Charity, I discovered a career path that I am sure I will excel at: management. Because of my excellent performance and commitment, Qatar Charity turned my internship into a temporary paying job. I now feel satisfied. I feel positive all the time, because I can contribute to supporting my family and my community”.
Looking to the Future
Unlike many traditional graduates who want to get a PhD and join academia, Maisara has a short-term goal of obtaining an MA in the field of management and leadership. For him, building strong Palestinian organisations is the key to a better future.
Maisara believes that, “When it comes to dreams, there is no compromise!”