World Link veteran host mom Theresa Gittleman (Colorado) watched student after student plan and implement life changing projects for Global Youth Service Day. So when an issue for a former host daughter came up- Theresa thought, “Why couldn’t I do what hundreds of teenagers have done and come up with my own project [to help]?”
Her exchange daughter Fatema Zohra (2012-2013; Bangladesh/CO) told her one day that she would not be able to attend college because she could not afford it. Theresa took this comment to heart, could easily identify. She grew up in Detroit; only received an 8th grade education, so she knew what it was like to want to go to school, but not be able too. Even though Fatema didn’t ask for help, Theresa knew she had to help in some way.
“I wanted to help her somehow, but we were having a hard year. My husband lost his job and I’ve had five surgeries so we really didn’t have the money to just give her. I’ve made jewelry for years and have always given it away as gifts, never charging for it. I decided I would make and sell my jewelry on a donation basis only and use 100% of the proceeds would go for education of young Muslim girls in Bangladesh.”
As she started implementing her plan, she was shocked at how open her community was and how willing they were to help her. Six local artists ranging from 8-65 years old, have come along her side, and are helping her make and sell the jewelry.
“So far we’ve raised almost $2000 which is the equivalent of almost 2 years of college in Bangladesh. As I continue to raise money, I have one girl in mind who will benefit but I hope to benefit many other girls who need the financial help to get an education.”
Fatema is clearly grateful for all that her American mom has done for her: “Who said the person who only gives birth to you becomes your mother…I have been fortunate enough to have another mother in my life! She became an angel to me when she stepped into my life! My American host mom! We might not share any blood relation but our love never needed it anyway! I thank Youth Exchange and Study (YES) for bringing this angel in my life. She became my friend, my mentor, my mom…and I will always be indebted to her…I love you mom”