How a young entrepreneur wants to use virtual reality to help young people in conflict zones to achieve their dreams.
Youth who have experienced conflict often have big dreams for jobs, but they can’t know what those roles actually entail, because they lack role models they can relate to, and there are few – if any opportunities for actual work experience. So they get into a role without full context and often are disappointed and suffer mental health challenges / depression as a result of the employability options they face.
This is what Nada Ibrahim Hassan Hussen dreams of changing through technology skills training and a VR platform that she’s in the early stages of developing. Hussen is Programmes Manager at Athar, a non-profit organization based in Rusifeh, Jordan (a sub-grantee of Mercy Corps). Athar works on developing young people’s resilience to conflict through giving them technology skills in partnership with training platform Pluralsight as a path to better employment.Youth who have experienced conflict often have big dreams for jobs, but they can’t know what those roles actually entail, because they lack role models they can relate to Click To Tweet
Nada is an exceptional young woman and a role model for young people, and specially young girls Click To Tweet
She started exploring the idea of using VR to give those youths a preview of roles so they can see what lie ahead, understand the options available to them in different industries, and generally help cast a (better) view of their future.
Hussen says that when she was growing up she wanted to be a doctor, but a passion for gaming – she still remembers playing Mario on an Atari console – eventually turned her towards technology and a desire to work with children and help them realise their dreams. Athar, in Arabic, means “the impact” and that’s what Nada wants to achieve by creating a safe and inclusive space where young people are free to dream.Athar, in Arabic, means the impact, and that’s what Nada wants to achieve by creating a safe and inclusive space where young people are free to dream Click To Tweet
Nada is a Palestinian refugee who has devoted her work and career to youth development at this small NGO Click To Tweet
“Nada is a Palestinian refugee who has devoted her work and career to youth development at this small NGO. She has had to work incredibly hard and overcome all sorts of barriers around gender, ethnicity, economic limitations, etc. to gain an education and to become a leader in this community. She now wants to enable other youths to achieve the same,” says Lindsey Kneuven, Head of Social Impact at Pluralsight.
Many adolescents don’t qualify for NGO programming because funding is focused on children, yet they are amongst the most vulnerable. And she’s done this in a place where there is no precedent for VR – she found the technology solution that would enable her to solve for the need she has identified in her community and now she is investing in teaching herself the technology and building the skills she needs to make it a reality by studying on the Pluralsight platform (which offers courses in tools such as Unity) in her own time.Many adolescents don't qualify for NGO programming because funding is focused on children, yet they are amongst the most vulnerable Click To Tweet
“Nada is an exceptional young woman and a role model for young people, and specially young girls. Through Pluralsight One (Pluralsights social responsibility initiative) she is unlocking technology skills and building towards her VR solution,” Kneuven explains. “Not only does Nada develop and implement programming for young people, but she does it all with a focus on psychosocial support, such as helping youth overcome trauma tied to genocide, abuse so that they can productively engage in their educational development, avoid being absorbed into conflict and extremism.”
“My dream is to create a VR solution that helps youth see their future in a place where role models and jobs are so scarce,” says Hussen. “I want to use technology to help youth to overcome poverty and to explore a new tool to create a new chances for employment, exploring our identity for the world as we see it, not as people in the outside world see us.” Technology can transform the world, it can open doors, so it’s important to democratize technology so that we can find and take advantage of new opportunities that are out there in the world.
This article was originally published on VRScout
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Alice Bonasio is a VR and Digital Transformation Consultant and Tech Trends’ Editor in Chief. She also regularly writes for Fast Company, Ars Technica, Quartz, Wired and others. Connect with her on LinkedIn and follow @alicebonasio on Twitter.