Yazan’s world has gotten smaller as he has connected with people from across the globe.
Valentine’s Day may have been last month, but YES alumni show their big hearts year-round. Here are six ways that YES alumni share their hearts through their actions.
1. Alieu J. Pusah (YES 2017-2018, Liberia, placed by AFS in Chicago, IL) coordinated a mangrove swamp cleanup at Mesurado Creek in Monrovia, Liberia in celebration of World Wetlands Day. Prior to the cleanup, 20 volunteers, who were recruited from the community by local leadership, were educated about the ecological significance of the mangroves. The volunteer team then planted mangroves, cleaned up litter from the area, spread awareness about the need to protect the wetlands for a healthy ecosystem, and encouraged others in the community to do the same.
2. Makhosazana Maphalala, Boikemelo Morake, and two non-alumni volunteers held a feminine hygiene discussion with 20 young women at the Othandweni Family Care Centre in Soweto, which houses children removed from their homes due to abuse and neglect as well as disadvantaged mothers and pregnant women. Feminine hygiene is a taboo topic in South Africa, leading to a lack of awareness in face of potentially harmful myths and how to properly care for oneself. With support from a local clinic and funds raised with her coworkers, Makhosazana purchased and distributed sanitary pads to the young women at the Centre. The clinic also provided her with training to lead the discussion. (Photo highlight image above.)
Makhosazana Maphalala (YES 2018-2019, South Africa, placed by Greenheart in Buxton, ME)
Boikemelo Morake (YES 2017-2018, South Africa, placed by ACES in Redding, CA)
3. Alfred Maganga (YES 2014-2015, Tanzania, placed by YFU in Ann Arbor, MI) led a group of three alumni to hold a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) awareness event for 100 female students at Kisota Secondary School in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. The goal of the event was to increase and encourage female participation in STEM. Alumni told the group about notable women in STEM fields and discussed career possibilities. Alumni also engaged participants through interactive breakout sessions, hands-on experiments, and team-based challenges.
4. Reem Almuraikhi (YES 2011-2012, Bahrain, placed by PAX in Cheboygan, MI) organized a screening of the film CODA, which highlights the experience of a child with deaf parents, for alumni and staff members of the Bahrain Science Center for Sustainable Development Goals in Isa Town, where the screening was held. After the film, the group discussed deafness in relation to the UN SDGs and brainstormed ideas for supporting and advocating for inclusion and accessibility for people with disabilities in their local communities.
5. Lora Radoycheva (YES 2021-2022, Bulgaria, placed by American Councils in Captain Cook, HI) organized an event from February 22 to 28 for Sirni Zagovezni, or Shrove Sunday, a beloved Bulgarian holiday for which people apologize to one another and practice forgiving and forgetting. With two non-alumni classmates, Lora made a “mailbox” to collect apology letters written to and from the students and teachers at her school in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria. Over 80 letters were collected and distributed. The project aimed to build a stronger school community and take part in a longstanding pre-Easter tradition.
6. Mayssem Boukadida ’20 and Yesmine Mrabet ’18 organized an activity for four fellow alumni and 26 students, ages four to 20, who are members of L'Académie Sportive et Éducative des Sourds de Tunis (ASEST), an association for the deaf and hard of hearing in Zaghouan, Tunisia. The alumni promoted the YES program, and the group visited the Water Temple and participated in a Model United Nations activity. This event was inspired by Mayssem’s experience volunteering with children with disabilities while on program in San Antonio, TX.
Mayssem Boukadida (YES 2019-2020, Tunisia, placed by Ayusa in San Antonio, TX)
Yesmine Mrabet (YES 2017-2018, Tunisia, placed by ACES in Luckey, OH)