Youth Facility Leader SOS Children's Villages in Azerbaijan
photo: © Stefan Lechner Photography
Never give up on your goals and believe in yourself
SOS as an international charity organisation is well known all over the world as well as in our country, Azerbaijan. It is also famous and highly respected. As far as I’m concerned, I have always dreamed of working in a charity organisation and being able to support and contribute to helping people and children in need.
So, on one of my lucky days, I had the chance to apply for the position of social worker in an FSP project linked to the SOS Village Ganja, my hometown. I still remember the question that I was asked about how I would manage to work in this position since my previous one was an insurance agent. My response was short and direct: “Just give me a chance and you will see.”
About one month later, I received a phone call from the local SOS office that I was accepted for this position. Those were the most wonderful and happiest moments of my life. I just told myself, “Yes you did it.”
My first weeks and months as a social worker were very hard, disturbing and sometimes exhausting. As I often had to meet, collaborate and negotiate with people who demanded more without being willing to do anything. All in all, my role as a social worker was to support and help the families and children in need living in our society and in neighbouring districts. I had to travel a lot around the city in search of such families and I had to arrange meetings with people from the authorities and so on.
My family and friends gave me enthusiasm and energy and always supported me in my work saying, “We believe in you, it is your dream work.” As a social worker I always tried to do my best to be helpful and supportive for the families in need by offering my help with all necessary building materials, medical needs, food and so on. To my great joy, two years later I was promoted to the position of Youth Facility Leader.
I have been working as a Youth Facility Leader for six years now. For me it is a very enjoyable and leading position. Young people as a whole are very sensitive and often a group in the society that change their minds. Nevertheless, in spite of hard and at times stressful moments during the work, I have never given up trying to reach my goals by solving young people’s problems and organising trainings, meetings, sport games and a lot more activities for my target group.
Now I would like to tell a story about one of my youths, Fuad (not his real name), who I supported to get an education in a free department a year ago. Fuad was very responsible, reliable and problem-solving and one of the active young people in our project. He was very determined to enter a college that would allow him to gradually improve his educational skills throughout the year. Finally, after hard-working preparations, Fuad succeeded in passing an exam and entered a college in a fee-paying education department. Unfortunately our budget could not offer to pay $700 per year for Fuad’s education and there was also no time to find a donor.
Moreover, due to our country’s educational law, only young people with no parents are allowed to get a free education. Fuad’s situation was a little bit different because his mother was alive. Despite this factor I decided to try, collected all the necessary documents describing the young boy’s biography and made an appointment with the college director. I had to travel three times for 200 km from my hometown to that college with Fuad trying to make a number of appointments with the college’s director and the Human Rights Department. Our goal was to tell them that we were unaware of where Fuad’s mother was and what she was doing at that moment. Every time during meetings they told us “We can’t accept Fuad, we need confirmation proving that his mother passed away.”
Keep on trying until you succeed
In some moments, I wanted to give up and leave everything on his own way. Although, by knowing Fuad and his ambition, determination to get an education and his heart-warming words made me change my mind and try again. Fortunately for us, during our final visit, Fuad and I managed to convince them that we neither had any information about Fuad’s mother nor about his relatives. We also produced a statement proving that he had really living in SOS Ganja Village for over 7 years and that his mother had never visited him during that period. In the end, the college director agreed that the facts were true and accepted the documents submitted. After accepting his documents, I was very happy about the work I had accomplished and about myself, so much so that I jumped for joy right there in the college hall. Fuad was glowing with happiness and even burst out crying with joy. Later he admitted that if he had been refused he would have committed suicide. Since he spent months on preparation, studying and writing pre-tests, he didn’t want to look humiliated and broken in front of his friends. These words gave me a huge shock and I thought for a moment about what would have happened if I had decided to give up.
In conclusion, I would like to add that whatever we do and whenever we do it, the most important thing is to believe in yourself, in your power, and to aim for your goals.
As the Youth Facility Leader, Jeyhun is constantly striving to listen patiently, to support and to actively participate in solving problems on various subjects. Co-workers need to be more sensitive and attentive, especially with young people and teenagers.
Jeyhun practices this patience and care at home as well. He is always ready to support and care for his family, play with his children and encourage them to take part in the community. Ganja, where Jeyhan and his family live, is the second largest city in Azerbaijan. It is a very ancient and historical city surrounded by forests and mountains and divided into two parts thanks to the Ganja River.
As Jeyhun spends most of the working week sitting at the computer, he prefers to spend the weekends in nature with his friends and family. Nature helps him gain energy and gives him support to continue the next week with fresh ideas.