Mohammad’s life had always been challenging but there was something about being around the students that drove him crazy, making him feel lower than ever. Meeting his more successful peers only further drove home the truth, that he had already failed and that the opportunity to achieve the best had already passed him by. It was a painful thought.
Mohammad had arguably never had a chance. His family’s financial situation had been dire for as long as he could remember; with employment opportunities remaining scarce in his hometown of Russeifah, Mohammad and his parents lived well below the poverty line. From a young age, Mohammad entered into a routine of working after school, earning small but necessary sums to keep the family going in difficult times. As money became scarcer, Mohammad left school entirely to take on a new job at a garage spray-painting cars.
The work was tough. At only 13 years old, Mohammad began working 12 hour days, 6 days a week. Despite tiredness and boredom, he continued working hard throughout the year. As months passed by, the first hints of regret crept in. “Because I worked all the time, I learnt nothing throughout that year”, he later remembered, a situation that would only get worse the longer he was forced to avoid school.
The damage done by missing education was first made obvious when the students arrived at the garage. The group were looking for practical work experience to complement the theoretical knowledge they had picked up from their vocational training course, and the garage boss was happy to oblige. The actual expenses and working conditions were determined by the course, exposing to Mohammad the injustice of his own contract. Not only were the students taught all they needed to know to succeed, they were given a fair wage, holiday allowances, and most hurtful of all, real respect. To this day, Mohammad still remembers his boss’ dismissive reaction to a request for further training on the job: “Can’t you see how much better they are than you? You’ll need years before you can match that”.
Despite his doubts, he enquired at the vocational training centre, only to find out that he needed a 10th grade school certificate to join. Having left school in the 8th grade, and now too long out of education to re-join, his situation seemed hopeless. He returned to work the next day, to a barrage of insults and mockery from his scorned bosses. Mohammad kept quiet, knowing that his poorly-paid spray-painting job was the best available to him.
Mohammad’s fortunes changed the day he met two young people from JOHUD’s Social Support Centre. When they told him that the centre was made for working school-dropouts, he was overjoyed. “The blood rushed through my veins, I felt relief wash over me”. He immediately went to the centre and registered.
At the centre, Mohammad received an education for the first time in years, and was pleased to access psychological, social and practical support for his entire family. After a short time, he was granted an award to mark his achievements in the SSC’s training, which allowed him to undertake the vocational training that was once denied to him. Now a fully qualified vehicle spray-painting mechanic, Mohammad also had the opportunity to broaden his knowledge of mechanics and even became a trainer.
Mohammad’s life is now vastly different to the one that was offered to him before. He now runs his own private spray-painting business, the set-up of which was funded entirely by a 2000JD loan that the SSC helped him find. His earning potential is far higher than it was before, and he has earned the self-respect that seemed so absent several years prior. His true potential was there all along; sometimes, young people just need to be given that vital helping hand to find their true talent.