With the generous help of donors and the Houston Arab community, the Arab American Cultural and Community Center (ACC) recently delivered its first check for $13,600 to the Hope Fund. This money is currently being matched with 2-3 freshman boys, and will pay part of their health insurance, books, tuition and pocket money.
Beginning in August 2012, the ACC undertook an collaboration with the Hope Fund Corporation to provide college scholarships to underprivileged students from refugee camps in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine. Wafa Abdin, ACC President, said the process followed by the Hope Fund in selecting recipients and its relationship with universities were two factors that set it apart from other scholarship-granting organizations. Mrs. Abdin said of the venture, “It was particularly exciting to find an organization that offers students an opportunity to completely transform their lives and achieve their dreams. The Hope Fund uniquely positions graduates with the ability to impact other Arab youth.” Mrs. Abdin concluded with the hope that the collaboration would continue to be a part of the ACC’s commitment to education and giving back to the
ACC Board Member Dr. Amer Sabbagh, who was instrumental in the success of the first push for donations, expressed his happiness with its outcome. “It gives me and the ACC a great pride and satisfaction to be able to provide a chance to some of these unfortunate young people to satisfy their goals in life and excel,” he said. Dr. Sabbagh stressed that the educational opportunity provided by the Hope Fund will fuel change and empowerment in Arab society.
Since its inception in 2001, the Hope Fund has helped 13 students graduate college with excellent records. Currently, the Hope Fund is hosting more than 30 college students in partnership with over 15 colleges in the US.
Shireen Abu Khairan, a 2010 Hope Fund graduate, stated of her experience, “The Hope Fund was the path that led me to the light; it changed everything, my ambitions, perspectives, and personality.”
She detailed the hopelessness of many youth in the camp, the powerlessness to change their situations and realize their ambitions, and the inner conflict that many youth feel. Describing the distinct sadness she experienced resulting from her inability to make good on her parents’ hopes for her to have a better life, Shireen said, “You can wish a lot of things but you won’t achieve anything unless you get on with it.”
Shireen credited the Hope Fund with allowing her to seize her ambitions and make her dreams a reality. “I have to say that the Hope Fund is the best thing that happened to me in my life… it gives me the hope that I can continue this life, and I can be something in the future, I can be somebody who everybody will be proud of, somebody who can make better changes for herself, her family, her society and the whole world.”
The ACC extends its sincerest thanks to all of the donors, and invites all members to make a difference in the lives of refugee children and the Arab community by donating to this cause. Donations are tax deductible and 100% of proceeds go to the Hope Fund.