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One person can't change the world. But you can change the world for one person.
Anyone who turns on the news today will feel helpless. We've seen the same story reoccur under different regimes and different times. We go on Facebook, twitter and instagram and everyone is yelling about issues. Everything seems really important. It seems there's so many macro issues that we need to fix immediately. But actually, it kind of feels like there's nothing we can do. All these big issues, they're out of our control. Right?
Hira Syeda has a husband, three children and a hectic life. Seamlessly transitioning from a day of managing Sunday ESL and tutoring classes and coming home to three boisterous boys is something she does now with ease. "I felt blessed with everything in my life and family. But my heart would break knowing that not everyone has the opportunity to live the life I do." She saw the same things we all do and felt helpless. But then an opportunity came and she took it.
Getting stuck in the day to day of work, family and entertainment is something the average person deals with. It's hard to get off the grind of the day to day and actually move forward in leaving a meaningful legacy or making a difference that impacts people outside of your immediate family. But the truth is, every person is given opportunity to make an impact and leave a legacy.
We often ask ourselves, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" The answer is opportunity. Opportunity for others to help those in need? That's a part of it. But moreover it's an opportunity for the people going through hardships to grow, to be reminded of their priorities and for the world to be reminded that love, hard work and genuine people looking to make a difference can change the world. Or at least, the world for one person.
Anyone who has worked with Clarkston refugees will invariably come to meet Brother Abdi. He does not write down names, addresses or anything else. But he remembers every family, every name, every house and every person he meets. The creation of Project Hope Atlanta and other similar volunteer groups usually go through an initiation with Brother Abdi. He speaks the language of almost all of the people, laughs with them, cries with them and finds out what they need. What they need to get back on their feet.
Brother Abdi is a one man crew but he attracts many people and funnels them towards a mass influx of charity towards refugees. This is how Project Hope Atlanta began.
Visiting families who have lost everything because of politics or war is beyond understanding. How can you have everything one second and because of some seemingly far away conflict, it's all gone? This is what Brother Abdi introduced us to.
And this became the motivation. The reason to do whatever Project Hope Atlanta could was not because "we just wanted to help" or some other cliché. The motivation is that this situation can happen to any of us. We saw ourselves in our sisters and brothers who had lived normal, happy lives until it was taken away. This feeling we should understand, because in today's America things feel more fragile than ever before.
Because of the motivation, the work has stayed strong and consistent. Families that need help have been embraced. And by embraced we don't mean fed and clothed. We mean minds have been molded, opportunities have been given, and yes, food and clothes when necessary as well.
Imagine teaching a class consisting of a doctor, hotel owner, a 10th grade student, a salesman and truck driver. This class occurs every weekend. Education is the only way out of difficult circumstances. And Clarkston has found an educational champion in Taubah Academy. A small school with a big heart, Taubah's leadership serves students with high expectations and helps them achieve high goals. In partnership with Project Hope Atlanta, they provide a space for refugees on the weekends to practice their English while Project Hope Atlanta provides the volunteers and logistics.
The vision for Project Hope Atlanta is to be about the work. To go above the regular drudgery of day to day life. To establish meaningful relationships. To leave behind a meaningful legacy. The truth is we all face our own struggles and problems. But when we go to help change the world of another person, we often change our own world. We find answers in love, empathy and understanding the human condition. We find perspective that could never be found unless we connect with someone else's world.
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