King’s Academy, December 16, 2014 – During a special school meeting last Wednesday, the King’s Academy community was reminded that it is never too early to start creating positive change in the world.
On a mission to help those in need, 21-year-old Jordanian-American Jordan Hattar stopped by the Abdul Majeed Shoman Auditorium to share how learning about global issues captured his heart and inspired him to become a humanitarian aid worker.
Using slides of demolished homes and uprooted people on the projection screen in the background, Hattar recalled howwitnessing the catastrophic effects of Hurricane Katrinaplastered all over mainstream media served as an epiphany for him at an early age.
“I thought to myself, ‘if this is happening in the world’s most prosperous country then what’s happening around the world?’”
Upon learning about the war and genocide in Darfur when he was still a high school student, Hattar was deeply affected by the tragedy of these events and decided to move to south Sudan after graduation to learn more about the needs of people in the region.
“They said they needed two things: better health and education, and someone to be a voice for them.”
Hattar later found himself taking Arabic courses in college to help him rediscover his roots, which proved to be a more educational experience than he anticipated. With the help of his Syrian Arabic teacher, Hattar soon learned some of the horrific truths about the ongoing conflict in Syria.
“Seeing the tears in my professor’s eyes as she spoke about her family in Syria, I knew I could make a difference,” said Hattar. “I decided my goal in life was to be a voice for those who are suffering, for the refugees from Syria.”
Despite his parents’ initial concern, Hattar traveled to Jordan andbegan working on how to provide humanitarian aid for the Zaatari refugee camp in Mafraq. Pretending to be a journalist – the only way he was allowed access – Hattar saw firsthand the daily struggles and dire living conditions of the camp.
The refugees, 75 percent of whom are women and children, “couldn’t think past today,” said Hattar. “Their concerns are immediate. They just try to survive each day as it comes.”
Seeing as how freezing temperatures and flooding brought on by the harsh winter season made the situation even more unbearable, Hattar decided to take action.
Working in cooperation with the United Nations, Hattarlaunched the campaign Help for Refugees to fundraise for prefabricated housing units for Zaatari. After submitting his ideato the Clinton Global Initiative University, the amount of $5,000 was raised – enough to provide two boxed houses for the camp.
“It felt good to know you can make a difference when you’re young,” he said.
Today, Hattar dedicates his time to educating students at schools and colleges across the United States about his initiative under apresentation entitled “Voices of Syria”. Last summer, one of the groups he addressed at a high school in New York fundraised an additional $5,000.
While every effort counts, it is only “a drop in the bucket” as there are currently over 140,000 Syrian refugees in Jordan at the Zaatari camp alone who still need assistance, said Hattar.
Before ending his discussion with a Q&A session with students, he offered these words of wisdom:
“As you graduate from one of the best boarding schools in the world, you have the opportunity to make a difference,” Hattar said. “When the world’s greatest need and your greatest passion intercept – if you follow your heart – it’s the best way to make a difference in this world.”