The founding of Reach Education Fund is deeply personal and took a long time in the making. In 1985, I was in the 8th grade. One of my friends was Bassam Mahmoud Hamed. Bassam was smart and deserved to have every opportunity for a wonderful successful life. Due to his family’s financial situation and family responsibilities, Bassam had to drop out of school.
He was in the 9th grade. I often thought what an injustice this was to Bassam, as while he honored and cherished his family by helping to take care of family’s responsibilities. He was also deprived of the opportunity for a college education. While Bassam was not able to finish high school, he was able to give his children that chance. Several of my other friends also faced similar challenges.
Shareef Afif Ayyad was the smartest kid in my class. Shareef used to be our tutor from the time we were in 5th grade. He was that smart! He worked diligently and his education was something he strongly valued. Unfortunately, due to financial hardships, immediately after high school, Shareef too had to put his dreams of a college education on hold so that he could help with the family’s responsibilities.
Another friend, Ahmad Haider was successfully able to graduate from college with honors with an engineering degree; it took him 8 years, because of the hardships he faced.
Knowing the importance of education, Bassam, Shareef, and Ahmad have ensured that their children are able to receive an education. In the summer of 2014, Bassam’s oldest son, Abdul Hadi, graduated from college and his daughter, Aseel, graduated from High School. Aseel is a freshman in College. Shareef’s daughter, Hadeel, graduated from high school with honors and she is a freshman in college. Ahmad’s son, Nabeel, is an honor student in high school.
The sacrifices of my friends Bassam, Shareef, and Ahmad and what I have witnessed in my town “Silwad” is just a small reflection of what the entire Palestinian society endures. There are Mohammad, Mahmoud, George and Abdallah, and countless other Palestinians who were deprived of conquering their educational dreams for the same reasons.
Then I read the story of Na’eem Abo Radi, a student from the Gaza strip, who scored 99.4 % in his high school exit exam and could not afford going to college. Someone heard about this incredible student and offered him a scholarship.
It was then that I knew my purpose. It was the story of Bassam, Shareef, Ahmad and Na’eem, and countless other Palestinians, that the Reach Education Fund was founded. It is their struggle and sacrifices that have pushed me to make a difference, and help fulfill the dreams of many Palestinian students. It is my commitment to give every Palestinian student the hope to dream and a chance to conquer their dreams. It truly solidified what I aspired to do, and helped me realize this dream.
I would also like to take an opportunity to say thank you to those who helped to make this dream possible. I would like to start with my parents. Truly, they always influenced me and inspired me in the most positive way possible and I would like to share the dedication of this effort for their sake. Special thanks also to my children (Advisors), Islam (daughter), Abdelhamid, Amin, and Mohammad. You all have played a valuable part in this project.
Walid Abdelhamid Mizyed,
Founder& Executive Director