Children Inspired Career
Rawan’s involvement in UNICEF activities inspired her to choose a career path to help uprooted children
She was only 15 years old when she had to leave her homeland in Syria. 6 years later, her career took an unexpected positive turn inspired by her involvement in UNICEF activities to support uprooted children.
Rawan Nabulsi, now 21 years old, is an active facilitator at a family club in Cairo, helping many children coping with the hard time, trauma and other negative feelings she went through when she was at their age.
“I was among the top of my class till the war began,” Rawan said, “my academic performance started to deteriorate as I kept hearing about bombing schools. I didn’t know if I’m going to wake up alive next day.”
Rawan’s dream was to become a translator. She describes how her passion for the English language was inspired by the support of a teacher: “I used to hate my voice as a little girl and barely talked until one day when I was at the fifth grade, a teacher encouraged me to try to talk in English. When I did, she praised both my voice and my language skills. I started dreaming of becoming a translator ever since, and till now I tell all shy or introvert children to speak up because their voices are beautiful.”
Coming to Egypt at the age of high school, Rawan was planning to go to college to study Linguistics. The road was harder than she expected.
“In Egypt, it’s normal for high school students to take private lessons to get high grades for college,” Rawan said, “but in Syria we consider it shameful. After spending one and a half years of high school in Egypt, I decided I want to go back to Syria as the conflicts in my area were much less by then to finish my last high school year without any private tutoring and achieve high grades to go to college in Egypt.”
The brave teenager went back home all by herself as her family couldn’t accompany her. Shortly after her arrival to Syria, a new decree by the Egyptian government was issued regarding the Syrians residency in Egypt. “I was told that I can’t spend more than six months outside Egypt if I want to maintain my residency,” said Rawan describing the news that changed all her plans, “I had to return as soon as possible to Egypt, and I made it only 15 days before the final exams of high school there.”
Devastated about the academic year that she almost lost, Rawan thought she had no chance to do the paperwork needed for attending the final exams as the application deadline had already passed. The happiest surprise was awaiting her: “An Egyptian friend of mine wanted to guarantee me a chance in case things get worse in Syria and forced me return for any reason, so she called my parents before the application deadline, asked them for my passport number and applied on my behalf without telling them. It was a huge risk that she took for me, I couldn’t be more grateful!”
As expected, Rawan passed but without the high grades she was aiming for. The choices were either to study English Literature as planned but outside Cairo or choose another faculty inside Cairo.
For family issues, she had to choose another faculty inside Cairo. She had to make her mind quickly, so she thought about other things she enjoyed doing. The second choice was easy: helping other people.
During her stay in Egypt, Rawan was involved in many volunteer activities to help other Syrians. She was an active volunteer at Abwab family club supported by UNICEF and she was involved in many activities and trainings that inspired her to take a career path in the field of development.
“In Syria, we didn’t have a field of study called social services,” said Rawan about the unexpected academic option that she learned about through her network in the family club, “it sounded too close to what I was already doing with children as a volunteer. I decided it was the one.”
Rawan joined the Faculty of Social Services at Cairo University, and she grew an interest in dealing with children in conflict with the law and children who got abandoned by their parents. She describes this by saying: “Dealing with such children was a lifechanging experience for me. I learned that a child offender is actually a victim of his own environment and felt for children who were desperate for help, support and guidance because they had no parents to do so.”
After graduation, Rawan got a job as a facilitator at a UNICEF-supported family club. She’s specialized in child protection and helps Egyptian, Syrian and children from other nationalities learn about concepts such as personal space, types of violence and how to be protected against them, emotional intelligence and more.
Recently, there was a job opening at the family club where Rawan is working for an English teacher. She knew a friend who was an excellent candidate and decided to recommend her instead of applying to the job herself as a pay-it-forward following her Egyptian friend’s favor. “Although my initial dream of becoming a translator didn’t come true, yet I’m happy with what God chose for me. I wanted to help another hardworking girl get a decent job she deserves” Rawan said.