The First of Many

When I started this project last February, I had no expectations. I told myself that no matter what happens, with or without donations, I’ll be sending school supplies to Syria for the children.

Little did I know that four months later, I’ll be sending these.

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These donations represent the fact that life goes on. With these donations, we help the children to continue living.

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I am deeply moved and humbled. I am so overwhelmed with the support! On top of that, I gained friends along the way. Some of them you met through my previous posts, while some of them chose to stay anonymous. Nevertheless, their faces and names are engraved in my heart.

Saying thank you isn’t enough. Still, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

By the way, this is just the first batch of donations. I can’t wait to share the next batch with you soon!

Hmm, there seems to be a mistake. I need to correct the second line of this post. Little did I know that four months later, WE’LL be sending these. There, that’s more like it.

Here’s to education and beyond!

 

I Saw the Sign

It has been more than two months since I started “To Education and Beyond,” yet it feels like it was just yesterday when I posted the project on Facebook.

Every time I get a message, call or email about the project, I go back to the night of February 18, 2017. It was a night filled with self-doubt.

“Should I really post this?”

“What if no one bothers to help?”

“Why Syria instead of the Philippines?”

I had so many questions going through my mind. I even asked God for a sign. However, the clock was ticking. Time silenced the voices in my head. February 18 was the first anniversary of my graduation, so I knew I had to post the project that night.

Little did I know, the sign would come later.

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Denise, a good friend of mine, made this sign to help gather donations. I was so speechless when she sent me this photo. She told me that the sign is currently placed in their school’s cafeteria. “So the whole school knows now,” Denise said. Knowing that students are becoming aware about the situation in Syria answers all of my questions. Awareness is the first step, and that’s really what I want to achieve.

So, Denise, thank you so much. Your sign was the sign I asked God for.

Here’s to education and beyond!

Life Opens Up When You Do

Last July 2016, I volunteered to dance in our Firm’s anniversary celebration. I just started working for the Firm back then, and I still can’t believe I had the courage to perform in front of 6,000 people.

All I knew was I wanted to meet new people, expand my network in the Firm and hopefully gain friends along the way.

Thankfully, I was able to do all three.

Everyone, meet Karla, who is on the left.

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Karla and I, along with three other staff, were part of the sixties dance segment. We danced – drum roll, please – the Twist. We obviously bonded during rehearsals, but when she asked for my advice on fashion and beauty, she became more than just a co-volunteer. Unfortunately, we lost touch after the anniversary celebration. We work on different floors, so we don’t see each other that often.

Eight months later, I receive a message in the office. “Hi, Firas! This is Karla. Magdo-donate ako ng school supplies. Saan located ‘yung office mo?” (“Hi, Firas! This is Karla! I’ll be donating school supplies. Where is your office located?”)

I was so surprised and moved when I read her message. I was reminded of the rippling effect of kindness. She also told me that she asked some of her friends to help out! With that, Karla, Joanna (the one in the middle), Krystel, Ruth, Dawn, Mara and Leanne, I thank you all from the bottom of my heart.

Here’s to education and beyond!

P.S. I believe that life is about the choices we make. If I didn’t volunteer to perform, I wouldn’t have met Karla.

A Little Goes a Long Way

“Pasensiya ka na kung kaunti lang mai-do-donate ko, ah.”

(I’m sorry if I only have little to donate.)

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I instantly gave Rachel a hug when she apologized for donating what she thought was “little.” I even felt that she was reluctant to hand over the paper bag carrying the school supplies.

While it was a humbling experience to hear someone apologize for donating, I couldn’t help but wonder why an apology was necessary.¬†Maybe it’s because two is better than one or more really is merrier.

I won’t deny that getting more is exciting. Hello, who doesn’t love a bargain? However, we shouldn’t allow it to overshadow the fact that a little can go a long way.

“One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.” – Malala Yousafzai

Come to think of it, how little is little? If one can change the world, nothing is the only thing that’s little now.

So, Rachel, I refuse to accept your apology. Let me tell you why. What is “little” to you means everything to me and the children. How could you apologize for that?

Thank you so much, Rachel!

Here’s to education and beyond!

When a Stranger Calls

Last 24 February, I woke up with a fever and headache. I decided to call in sick. It was 8am. Almost four hours later, my phone rang. Thinking it was a work call, I rushed to get my phone. To my surprise, the screen was flashing an unknown number. I answered and said hello.

“Hello. Is this Firas? Si Camille¬†po ito. Gusto po sana namin mag-donate ng school supplies. Pwede po ba namin kayo kitain mamayang hapon?”

(“Hello. Is this Firas? This is Camille. We would like to donate school supplies. Can we meet with you this afternoon?”)

It was a no-brainer, really.

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I knew I wasn’t feeling well. I also knew that I couldn’t say no to Camille.

Before the phone call, Camille and Kath were strangers. Now, I get to call them my friends.

Growing up, I was told to never talk to strangers. However, I realized that life won’t open up if I don’t. I always say that I believe in the kindness of strangers, and now, I have proof!

Thank you so much, Camille and Kath!

Here’s to education and beyond!

P.S. If the title of this post made you think about the film (the 1979 version, of course!), here’s a high five!

To Education and Beyond

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Exactly one year ago, I graduated twice.

Yes, you read that right. The first time was for myself. The second was for my cousin Ali. We were constantly together in Syria. We shared toys and books. Ali was my first best friend.

In 2012, I was wasting my time in college. I stopped going to school because I wasn’t enjoying it anymore. I was having a hard time convincing my mom that I wanted to shift programs. We kept fighting over it.

Also in 2012, on the other side of the world, Ali was on his way home from school. Unfortunately, he never made it. He was shot in the head by a stray bullet.

My war with my mom was nothing to the war Ali was facing.

I won my war when I shifted to Technical Communication. Ali lost his.

Part of my college education is dedicated to him. He kept me going, especially when I was struggling during my thesis. I knew that I had to graduate for the two of us.

Now that it has been a year since, I wanted to honor his memory. Amidst the war, Ali never stopped going to school. Right now, thousands of kids in Syria are risking their lives just to go to school.

I can’t imagine what they’re going through. We try to dodge our classes, but they have to dodge bullets just to get to their classroom.

And to add to that, their schoolbags are usually empty. They don’t have much school supplies.

Here’s where you and I come in!

I am starting a project to help Syrian kids get through school. Through the help of my Tito Romeo, who goes to Syria twice or thrice a year, we can get some school supplies to the children.

I feel uncomfortable collecting money, so I am more than willing to meet with you for the school supplies. However, if cash donation is the best option for you, I would be glad to accommodate that. I promise to be transparent with all the expenses, of course!

If you are with me on this, please message me here or on Facebook (Firas Abboud), send me an email (firabboud@gmail.com) or text me (09069189669)! God bless us all!