Non-Profit ‘Athar’ Is Developing VR Employment Education For Jordan Youth

Nada Ibrahim Hassan Hussen and her team are creating VR simulators to help young people visualize a better future.

Despite the various hardships and danger that surround children raised in conflict-prone countries, many youth still find themselves hoping for successful careers as doctors, educators, engineers, and various other influential positions. However, due to a severe lack of reputable role models, as well as little to no opportunities for actual work experience, many fail to understand what these roles actually entail. 

Nada Ibrahim Hassan Hussen dreams of changing this unfortunate reality through the use of technology skills training and a VR platform that it’s in the early stages of development, . 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.

She started exploring the idea of using VR to give youth a preview of various roles so they could see what lies 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 realize 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.

“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. Hussen has done this in a place where there is no precedent for VR. She found the technology solution that would best enable her to solve the problems she has identified in her community and is now 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.

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.”

Image Credit: Pluralsight

About the Scout

Alice Bonasio

Alice Bonasio runs the Tech Trends blog and contributes to Ars Technica, Quartz, Newsweek, The Next Web, and others. She is also writing VRgins, a book about sex and relationships in the virtual age. She lives in the UK.

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