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Wednesday, 19 January, 2022

Law of Attraction? Aspirations Coming True?

By Mostafa Mutaher

Is the law of attraction real? Does aspiring to be somewhere or keep thinking about it will make it come true?

Here’s a fun fact, back in 2019 I wrote in my personal statement for Master’s scholarship application that I aspire to be working at SMEPS or the UNDP, as the scholarship “Erasmus Mundus Global Markets and Local Creativities” was pretty much related to SMEPS projects. And I made it!

So, hi! My name’s Mostafa, a graduate from UUM, Malaysia. I will make this reflective essay short and simple yet informative and attractive just like I learned as a Donor Relations & Reporting Assistant (Intern) at SMEPS. 

The most thing I loved at SMEPS is the work culture and cohesion among departments and units. I had an immense experience and a chance of meeting, working, and engaging various teams.

It was like working numerous and diverse tasks such as reviewing/translating impact evaluation and surveys assessments with the monitoring and evaluation team, following up and supporting project activities with project officers, assisting in writing handbooks and guidelines with the safeguarding and gender specialist, field visits and hearing success stories from beneficiaries with the communication and advocacy team, and project proposals writing and numerous meetings with donors, directors and team members. I believe that SMEPS participative leadership is the reason SMEPS is very creative and pioneers in project ideas.

I’ve always been interested in development projects and the concept of “Do not give them fish teach how do you fish”. In Yemen, SMEPS is an extraordinary pioneer in this dimension, it was able to integrate three dimensions: humanitarian – emergency aspect, development and capacity building and sustainable business growth through linking MSMEs with suppliers. And so, SMEPS is implementing projects under  the humanitarian-development nexus. My favorite example is when they support hundreds of fishermen technically and financially by providing grants and consultancy on how to run and sustain their business and what items to procure (such as GPS, engines, and fish finders). As a result, sustainable business was created which impacted not only targeted fishermen but also those who benefited indirectly in terms of enhancing the links between fishermen, input suppliers and the community.

My role at SMEPS didn’t end at interacting and supporting different departments and units in reviewing and writing reports. I had several field visits with the team. I still remember my very first field visit with the M&E Officer to BRAVE Women (II) targeted beneficiaries in Sana’a. Without exaggeration, this visit has filled up my life with limitless hopes that could stay for decades. One of the business women had a small trailer shop, but it was shut down and her workers stole the assets and fled due to the war. This project provided her matching grant, and she expanded her business and hired more than 7 female workers with huge increase in productivity and income. I felt the aura of her positivity and entrepreneurial spirit when she was narrating her success story. I believe that the expert consultants SMEPS provided to assist targeted businesswomen has immensely helped in their business’s continuity in spite of the economic and security circumstances Yemen is going through.

Another visit was with the project team was for the UNESCO project aimed to promote livelihood opportunity for youth through Cultural Civil and Social Associations (CSOs). All CSOs I met were beyond creativity with very promising project outcomes aimed. One of the CSOs named the Yemen Chanting Association (YCA) established in 1989, and the source of my childhood traditional songs I used to enjoy in TVs and radios. The humanitarian crisis has impacted the livelihoods of majority of the Yemeni population, and heritage and cultural centers was not an exception. UNESCO and SMEPS grants and support has reinvigorated the YCA association and offered many job opportunities for talented chanters.

Truly, my dream since the war started in 2015 is to be part of those who are going to rebuild Yemen and SMEPS has given me the opportunity to make the first step in my life goals.. Being part of SMEPS is something I won’t forget and these new skills and creative way of thinking will always be helpful throughout my career and normal life.