November 5, 2017Our Promise for a Brighter Future

DEAR FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES,

Promise for Relief and Human Development (PRHD) was formed in 2011 in direct response to the massive crisis in Syria. As a board, we considered several different potential names for our organization before settling on Promise, an admittedly unconventional name. In the early months of the Syrian uprising, a popular refrain emerged, “From Hauran, the promise of good news came”, referring to the calls for freedom and reform that first started in the Hauran province of Syria. The good news was the news of democracy, of justice, and most importantly of freedom. The Syrian promise of good news became our Promise.

And we wanted to spread the good news.

We started out 6 years ago focusing primarily on relief efforts such as providing food assistance, sponsoring orphans, and supporting medical professionals and field hospitals. We took multiple trips to refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon, including the treacherous camps in the mountains of the Syrian-Lebanese border; camps that other i-NGO’s and governments had deemed too dangerous to enter. We drove to the outskirts of villages to seek out the most vulnerable refugees outside the camps, living in abandoned buildings and makeshift shelters. We personally worked in the warehouses assembling food packages and then carrying them into the tents and homes of Syrians in need. We provided infants formula milk in some of the hardest to reach areas in Syria that were under active siege. I will never forget the joy some children expressed at a small package of cookies.

With your generous and unwavering support, Promise brought the good news of food, medicine, and warmth to so many Syrian families in the past 6 years.

Your promise of support made our Promise of good news a true promise for so many Syrian men, women, and children.
In 2015, we started looking for new ways to keep that Promise. We had kept the promise of relief, now it was time to uphold the promise of development. Since the beginning, education and development had been a part of our vision as an organization. However, branching into the education sector seemed intimidating in the face of the escalating violence and constantly shifting front-lines in Syria. We were not sure where to begin, but at our annual meeting we decided that 2015 would be the year we upheld the promise to bring the good news of education to Syrians. And so the story of Promise College begins.

We contacted our partners in the Syrian Interim Government and our local team on the ground inside Syria to form a Board of Education in Daraa, Syria. We adopted the educational curriculum and evaluative standards developed by the Syrian Interim Government. Meanwhile, our grass-roots partners found two buildings in Daraa and Quneitra to serve as academic campuses. We had an educational committee determine the administrative structure of the colleges and announced a competition for the selection of the faculty members that would comprise each academic department. Having done so, we raised and sent the funds for the salaries and supplies for the first academic year. We then announced a competition for student applications to the colleges.

We received 2,100 applications and could only accept 670 students. We picked the top students and we picked equal amounts of men and women. Our promise was not just that of quality education, but also that of gender equality. Our first students enrolled in Promise College in 2015.

In October 2017, our first class of 250 students graduated from Promise College in Nawa and Msayfra, Daraa with their 2-year Associate’s Degree.

Our students are diligent, hard-working, and high achieving. Despite the instability and personal struggles each and every Promise student faces, they have achieved the extraordinary. Our students are now bringing the Promise of good news to their local communities as educators, mentors, and leaders.

The students of today are the Promise of tomorrow.

With your unwavering commitment and generous support, we will continue to bring the good news of education and a brighter future to Syrian students eager to learn, re-build, and contribute to their civil society.

That’s our Promise.


Abdul Kawamleh
PRHD President

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Chicago, IL 60634, USA

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