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Hadeel's journey from student to staff

Yemen, July 3, 2012

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    An accident ended Hadeel's volleyball career, but through Mercy Corps' youth development and internship programs, he has discovered a new career — and passion — for helping other young people in Yemen. Photo:

Hadeel’s story is one of new beginnings. Born and raised in Aden, a major city on Yemen’s southeast coast, Hadeel was previously a professional volleyball player. He was even chosen for Yemen’s national team. But a few years ago, a tragic accident forced him to reconsider his career. Hadeel focused on his education and finished his degree in Electronic and Communications Engineering at the University of Aden in 2010.

The latest fresh start in Hadeel’s life came the next summer, when he joined one of Mercy Corps’ first initiatives in Yemen, Engaging Youth for a Stable Yemen (EYSY). After hearing about the program from one of our local partners as he was finishing university, Hadeel thought the lessons he’d learn would serve him well in the future. He and other young people participated in a range of life-skills courses, ranging from communications and team work sessions to education and career development planning.

The team was so thrilled with Hadeel’s passion to learn and the sophisticated ideas that he contributed to group discussions, they urged him to return for a follow-up course called Community Leaders Training. There, Hadeel’s innate ability to find creative solutions to problems developed even further.

Just a few months later, in August 2011, Mercy Corps’ Aden office initiated its internship program; the manager interviewed other candidates but his decision was easy. As the team’s first intern, Hadeel surpassed all expectations — conducting assessments and surveys of household needs in Aden, and even in the more volatile governorate of Lahj to the north, he became a trusted consultant and translator to senior staff during meetings.

When a full-time Operations Assistant position became available in the Aden office, Hadeel applied and was enthusiastically hired last November. He has risen to every challenge, managing the procurement for the Aden office — from buying cars to finding the guesthouse — and even assisted in the establishment of Mercy Corps’ third office in Yemen, in the highland city of Taiz.

Hadeel is now one of the powerhouses of Aden, first in the office and the last to leave every day of the week. He’s become a supervisor to three staff and catapulted himself into the many e-learning courses that Mercy Corps offers for professional development, acquainting himself with operational security and project management, among others.

When he talks about his experiences over the last year, it’s clear that Hadeel’s greatest joy is working with people to develop their abilities, and points to programs like EYSY and Mercy Corps’ internships as examples of how engaging with young people at critical junctions in their lives can have the most profound effects. “What Einstein said was, ‘The world as we have created is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.’ In EYSY, we learned how to change our thinking.”