Ibrahim’s office is organised, efficient, and exactly as you would expect it to be. A professional working on development projects for a global NGO, he is at home navigating a complex web of challenges, drawing upon a mixture of training, formal academic qualifications, and life experience. Despite his maturity and the responsibilities he fulfils, he is still a very young man, and his face shines with passion and energetic enthusiasm for what he does. Today, however, we are not here to talk about his work; we are here to talk about his life.
A most difficult start
Ibrahim was born in a refugee camp in East Sudan, and became an orphan at age 11. His story, though heartbreaking, is unremarkable – the dangers present within the camp environment mean that life expectancy is short, and many children lose their parents before adulthood. Already afflicted by extreme depravation, Ibrahim and his siblings were brought to the attention of Ethar Relief, a global NGO specialising in alleviating poverty and suffering in East Africa.
The children were immediately enrolled into Ethar’s Orphan Sponsorship Programme, which takes holistic care of the needs of orphans, from clothing, food and medicine to finding them a place at school. This moment proved life-changing for Ibrahim, as his worries after parental loss melted away and a world of opportunity and possibility was revealed.
Hope, opportunity, and potential
From the moment Ibrahim started getting good quality care, regular nutritious meals and access to a well-rounded education, he began to flourish. He proved to be exceptionally bright and capable of anything he put his mind to. Ibrahim rapidly excelled through Ethar’s Al Mustaqbal secondary boarding school and on to a full university scholarship.
Ibrahim speaks passionately about the nurturing environment of Al Mustaqbal School. In his own words, he was encouraged and supported by the “best teachers” who provided the “best environment for learning”. The environment not only helped him to learn in the English medium and get to the top of his English Club, but it also gave him a focus away from his traumatic early life. Speaking to Ibrahim now, he conducts calls and interviews in impeccable, precise English (his third fluent language), and deals with a variety of stakeholders from around the globe. Humbly, he insists this confidence was instilled in him by his secondary school teachers.
While at university, Ethar Relief stood by Ibrahim, and helped him with resources and a sufficient stipend to enable him to complete his studies to the best of his ability. This is a unique feature of Ethar's sponsorship programme, where the organisation will work with sponsors and donors to ensure that the right support given, suited to the needs of each child and continuing if required into young adulthood. Within a few short years, Ibrahim emerged as a graduate in Computer Science from a recognised institution in Sudan.
Paying it forward: Ibrahim today
Ibrahim talks with passion about the support he got from Ethar Relief. He is humble about his own brilliance, and instead focuses on how tailored, bespoke support can transform a life such as his. He suggests that if Ethar’s Orphan Programme was just a simple, impersonal bursary, he may have been fed and kept healthy - but he would never have excelled to the point of his current qualifications and further achievements. The responsiveness and personalised care provided by Ethar Relief, he asserts, is the key to helping the next generation find a pathway for themselves to build their futures outside the refugee camps. Food, clothes and box-ticking isn’t enough to uplift children to achieve their potential.
Today, Ibrahim’s life has come full circle. He is now a Project Manager for Ethar Relief, working in their Sudan Country Office. His daily work involves implementing humanitarian projects for the refugee camps that he is so familiar with. He possesses a unique drive to deliver the very best for his community, and his work is recognised and cherished by the refugees he serves. He is an inspiration to us, and to everyone around him.
“You’d never think he was a refugee orphan”
Ibrahim hears this comment a lot from people he meets in his professional capacity. But what is a refugee orphan, except for a child just like our own? A child with hopes, dreams and needs, and the ability to achieve anything when given a fair opportunity to do so.
Ibrahim gives an analogy about supporting orphans in a comprehensive, holistic way. He believes that sponsoring an orphan is like watering a seed. The additional support is like providing good soil, shelter, and great growing conditions. If the support for the seed is right, it will flourish and grow. As a tree, its branches can then provide shelter and shade to others, and in time it will shed seeds of its own into the ground. Ibrahim’s aim is to help others to achieve their potential, and this is the noble work that he has committed his life towards.