Reaching for the Stars
Hamza Alqoraan dreams about a foundational change of the Bedouin educational system. He is one of two alumni of the Stars Accelerator program, of the NGO Desert Stars, to be accepted to the Municipal Authorities Cadet program. Alqoraan was accepted to this program alongside Mohammad Alatrash. These two are alumni of the third class of the Stars Accelerator, funded by the Menomadin Foundation and designed to strengthen and empower a new generation of Bedouin leadership, to develop a groundbreaking Bedouin leadership in the Negev. We Recently met with Hamza Alqoraan to talk about his unique path in the Desert Stars – Stars Accelerator.
Look after the ones close to you first
Alqoraan explains some of the concepts he was raised upon – one of which is the Arab proverb – الي مافيه خير لأهله، مافيه خير للي بره. – if you cannot do good for your relatives and your parents, how will you do good for others. This is the basic philosophy Alqoraan seems to be raised upon.
At 22, Alqoraan is already quite an accomplished young man. Before their graduation from the accelerator, each alumni must present a project that can be implemented in their community. During their studies, they learn how to set up such a project as well as seminars about the Israeli society, and its inherent conflicts.
“State what I want and Go Get It”
Alqoraan is now part of the Desert Stars alumni network, and this was his entrance ticket to the Municipal Authorities Cadet Program, as he himself says:
“When I graduated from my preparatory course, I was at first rejected from this program. I was upset by this negative answer, and felt I did not know what the problem was. But I did not give up. Then, I started attending the Stars Accelerator. I began taking first year classes in the Sapir College near Sderot, and the Stars Accelerator, all at the same time. The Stars Accelerator program was important as it gave me the background and the tools for critical thinking. This program provided me with all that was lacking for me to become an individual who knows what he wants to achieve and where he wants to end up. I was motivated before, but after graduating from the Accelerator program, my motivation reached new heights. After my graduation, I sat with my program manager, Michal Aharonowitz and confided in her that I wanted to be accepted to the Municipal Authorities Cadet Program. We started preparing for a second round of trials, and after this second and successful round, I was able to be accepted to this prestigious program. I can say in great confidence that the Accelerator contributed greatly to me, to be able to state what I want and to go and get it”.
First Aid Education in Unrecognized Villages
Menomadin Foundation connected Alqoraan with Adv. Kfir Cohen, an active lawyer in the municipal authorities, who is familiar with the way things work there. During Alqoraan study sessions with Cohen, he was able to get a closer look on the ways things are done in municipal authorities, and this will improve his way of thinking about solutions later on, when he works for any municipal authority.
This is the Alqoraan’s final year in the accelerator, he is now facing his final exams and hopes to pass them all. On top of this, he studies in the second year for a degree in public administration in the Sapir College in Sderot.
Asking Alqoraan about his unique path in the Stars Accelerator, we discovered an ambitious young man, who genuinely focuses his mind on improving the community in which he lives, and the lives of the people in his surroundings. He tells me about the project he designed and executed during his time in the Stars Accelerator: “Five of us thought to teach young Bedouin women first aid. Recently, there are many accidents that happen at home, due to the lack of knowledge from women. Sometimes boiling oil or water is spilled on children, a gas balloon blows up, and other accidents happen all the time around the house. Our project concentrated in the unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev, and taught young Bedouin women about running their families and their homes. We brought a first aid instructor, to provide the women with tools on coping with all sorts of accidents that happen around the house”.
“Everything starts with Education”
Now, Alqoraan dreams about making a bigger change, in the Bedouin educational system. His aspiration, after graduating from the Municipal Authorities Cadet Program, is to work in the education wing of a southern municipal authority and change the attitude towards the Bedouin educational system. Education is in his genes. He is the son and grandson of judges and mediators in the Bedouin community. One of his objectives, he deems achievable through the Desert Stars Accelerator is to change the Bedouin educational system, because this is the basis to everything else, according to him. He explains, “Bedouin education is completely different from the regular one. While there is a single Ministry of Education in the State of Israel, it provides different services for the various sectors of the society. Education is better for the Jewish sector, because the teachers there are better, they see the students and care about them, even after their graduation. The Bedouin educational system sees only grades and matriculation percentage and completely ignores its students. This creates a situation, which I myself have encountered, of a Bedouin student who reaches the university and finds out the great gap he has to fill in. I wish to become the head of my municipal authority and make a real change in the Bedouin educational system, for the benefit of my community. Everything starts with education. Once the Bedouin community is more literate, there will be a greater chance for equality between Bedouins and Jews, or other sectors in the Israeli society”.
“Contribute to Israeli society as a whole”
“We find a huge potential in the Bedouin and Druze youth, and believe that developing and enriching these talented young people will eventually contribute to Israeli society as a whole”, says Shimon Akselrod, Head of Philanthropy in Menomadin Foundation. “The Star Accelerator Program accepts the best and the brightest young Bedouins, once they successfully graduate the Desert Stars program. The foundation awards participants with a subsistence scholarship, a personal coaching program, a monthly visit to the Menomadin Foundation offices, and a meeting with Menomadin Foundation and Mitrelli Group senior executives”, he continues, “When we heard Hamza and Mohammad have been accepted to the Cadets for Municipal Service Program, we connected them with Adv. Kfir Cohen, who works with the foundation on The Day After Coalition Project and specializes in local authorities. We are very pleased this program proves to be successful and look forward to continuing the great work in the future”.