Ahmad lives in an Israeli Arab village near Nazareth and his father works in construction. His mother is the senior of his father’s two wives, and Ahmad has four sisters, one brother, and three half-sisters. He was fortunate to attend one of the top high schools in that city. The students there were encouraged to aim high and apply to university but, when he left school, Ahmad’s priority was to help his mother to feed their family and to fund his sister’s university degree.
Ahmad got a job in McDonalds where he became Deputy Branch Manager, and then moved on to work in a customer service position for a telecommunications company. He knew that his decision to stop working and apply for university would make life harder for the rest of the family, but he had big dreams to become a doctor so as to be able to help people beyond his own circle.
“While working I also used to volunteer at the Jordan River Village – a respite village for sick children that is part of Serious Fun Network founded by Paul Newman. I was responsible for caring for a group of 15-18 year olds who suffered from eye diseases, epilepsy and serious burns. I wanted so much to make them feel better, both physically and psychologically, because I could see that their illness made them vulnerable and scared. I went back five times to this village, caring for them with gentleness, but I realized that I could not do enough for them without training. That is when I decided that I wanted to become a doctor.”
Ahmad’s decision to apply to the Technion was motivated by compassion and optimism rather than practicality. He really had no hope of being able to afford university tuition – life would be hard enough for his family without his income. Luckily the admissions staff at the Technion medical school recognized Ahmad’s tremendous potential and recommended him for a full scholarship from Moshal. Now he is able to focus on his studies without worrying about paying for his course.
“I could not imagine achieving this degree without the support that I receive from Moshal. Every week is a challenge, with constant tests on the material that we have learned. If we fail, we’re finished! At first the pressure was terrifying – I had always found school work easy, but I had been out of the classroom for three years. Suddenly the challenges were enormous. Many students were paralysed with panic but I was fortunate to have Moshal on my side. They ran workshops for the first year students on how to cope with academic pressure, and their advisor is always available to calm and reassure me.”
Ahmad is one of a group of Moshal students at the Technion who support one another. They are all from similar backgrounds and face equivalent challenges, but they are united by their ambition to succeed. A mixture of young Jews, Christians and Muslims, they all get along really well and keep each other motivated.
Ahmad is proud to be part of the Moshal ‘family’ and to be able to help other people. He is ‘paying it forward’ by helping a boy from a broken home with his homework. He also volunteers at the local welfare office.
In the second year of his degree, it is too early for Ahmad to decide what medical speciality he wants to choose. For now he is fascinated by every new subject that they study.
“When I hear about the research that is being done into immunology and cancer treatments, I am excited to be involved in the science of medicine. But there is so much to learn! Medicine is such a difficult degree! Every week I am scared that I may fail my tests, but I am determined to prove that I can do this and dedicate my life to helping those who live in pain.
“There is so much that we can do to help sick people to get better or to feel better. I believe that there are psychological aspects to healing as well as physical and chemical treatments. Compassionate caring and the power of touch can go a long way to making people’s lives more bearable.”