Meet Tomorrow’s Youth: Samer

Samer Volunteer

Samer Abu Leil, 22, living in Balata refugee camp, is a current volunteer in the Core Child Program at TYO. Samer is a current student at Al-Quds Open University and has been a volunteer at TYO for four sessions and was the first recipient of the TYO Volunteer Scholarship.

What has been your favorite memory at TYO? 

In my time volunteering at TYO, I have two major stories or incidents that left a big mark inside me. The first was when TYO's sports teacher in the Core Program called me one morning saying that he was sick and couldn't come to class. Then he asked me to lead the class for the day because he trusted my skills and he knew he could rely on me to lead a class of 20 kids. He had confidence in my ability. I always believed in myself but after that day, I felt so valuable here.

Also, when I was chosen as the first recipient of TYO's Volunteer Award. It was so special because I was honored in front of the whole TYO team and my fellow volunteers.

Why is volunteering important and why did you decide to volunteer?

When I was a kid, I always liked teamwork and helping others for nothing in return. I am also a leader by nature so when I heard about TYO, I felt that this could be a place where I can help do something valuable in my community and make a change in these children and in their families.

What do you think is the biggest challenge facing Palestinian youth?

I am sure that my answer will be like most of the young people would say in Palestine - unemployment after graduation. I also see the political restrictions young men in particular are faced with in finding work opportunities outside of the country. The rest of the world is so big and our chances of finding job opportunities are very little.

Where do you see yourself in five years? 

Lately I've been thinking that after graduation I will find a job. But I dream I'll have the chance to volunteer outside of Palestine as part of a youth exchange where I can learn and showcase my skills. I want to exchange knowledge with other youth from other countries. I absolutely love the way TYO has the International Internship Program that brings young foreigners with expertise to contribute to TYO's programs for the benefit of the Nablus community. I wish I could be part of a program like it!

How do you think what you’ve learned at TYO will benefit you in the long run?

I've learned how to build new relationships with others as well as broke free from the stigmas and misconceptions I previously had about other refugee camps and people from the city. After working with children from all these areas, I know now that there is no difference - we are equal. Also, the way I communicate with children is healthier and I now understand what it really means to be a child.

This interview was translated by TYO's Outreach Coordinator, Futoon Qadri.