We had the good fortune of connecting with Shahreen Elahi and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shahreen, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your organization?
Maktub Mentors brings together professionals of a number of fields who are passionate about their careers and driven to pass on their experiences and guidance to members of the refugee community who strive to advance their careers by pursuing higher education or finding job opportunities. While simply adjusting to resettling in a new country can be difficult, there are a number of other obstacles to navigate around including language barriers, incomplete education, financial pressures, and lack of familiarity with the U.S. education and career system.
Oftentimes, we have found that forming meaningful connections can be the catalyst to getting a step closer to our goals. We curate a plan with our mentees to ensure we meet their needs whether it is searching for employment or offering guidance and encouragement. Our goal is to achieve lasting solutions for refugees by supporting and empowering them to thrive and become self-sufficient.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
There is strength in unity and what better way to unite our community than to share our experiences, skills, and advice with those who would benefit from it most? Several incredible nonprofits are working to make the lives of our refugee friends a bit easier and more comfortable in the US by arranging food drives, tutoring for children, group coaching sessions, and many other valuable resources.
Maktub is unique by bringing together a team of volunteer professionals who want to help by offering one-on-one mentorship including college application assistance, resume assistance, interview skills development, skill certification search, job search, and networking. We aim to bridge the gap between the ambitious refugee community and the professional community. Ultimately, our mission is to heal difficult pasts by building brighter and stronger futures. Though we are starting our organization in the Atlanta area, we aim to extend our services to the refugee population throughout the nation.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Though Atlanta has amazing tourist attractions and popular restaurants, I think the true treasures are a wealth of hidden gems worth exploring! As a native of Atlanta, one of my favorite pastimes is exploring local coffee shops and restaurants. I would recommend grabbing a chocolate chip sea salt cookie at Just Bakery. As a self-proclaimed coffee connoisseur, I would also insist on visiting Refuge Coffee and Ebrik Coffee Room. Another great way to meet the locals and support small businesses is by visiting farmers’ market stalls. Two great farmers’ markets include Oakhurst Farmers Market and Avondale Estates Farmers Market. Some of my favorite vendors include Aleppo Kitchen with the best hummus and Sweet Sweet Syria with incredible baklava. The Dekalb Farmers Market is also easy to spend hours in as you explore aisles upon aisles of food from all over the world, fresh flowers, and sweet treats from the bakery. We would also absolutely have to go to the Mercedes Benz Stadium to catch an Atlanta United game.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Maktub’s development is largely in appreciation to the city of Clarkston and the book, The Alchemist.
The city of Clarkston is fittingly coined as “The South’s Ellis Island” as it is known to be the most diverse square mile in America. It is collectively the home to hundreds of ethnicities including Somalis, Afghans, Bhutanese, Nepali, Ethiopian, Eritreans, Croatians, and Cambodians, all fleeing persecution and starting the new chapter of their lives in America. After spending time in Clarkston by working with a few of the local nonprofits aiming to help the refugee population and hearing stories of those people who are the very fabric of such a beautifully resilient community, I was inspired and I knew that one day, I wanted to contribute.
“Whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on Earth.” This is a quote from The Alchemist written by Paulo Coelho. To me, the significance of this quote is that every one of us has a story and a purpose. And as we journey throughout our individual stories, we encounter people and places that touch our lives and play a role in our path to our individual purposes. The Alchemist also talks about “Maktub” which means “It is written” in Arabic and is essentially the idea of fate or destiny. As our stories are already written, it is important to use our passion as fuel and our mentors as a compass to achieve our goals.