Alumni Spotlight: Duha Elmardi

Duha is a Sudanese, passionate about social work, especially in fields of education and capacity building. A firm believer in positive change and she sees herself as a global citizen driven by the idea of help that knows no borders, color, race or religion.

Why did you pick this program?


Duha: I joined SOLS 24/7 Malaysia's Project 100 because I believe in the organization's vision and it gives me the opportunity to combine both my skills in community mobilization and teaching to pursue the organization's mission in empowering communities and revolutionizing free education throughout Malaysia.

What do you wish someone had told you before you went abroad?

Duha: There are many things that you moving abroad especially alone has its negatives and positives, but it changes you and your life eternally.

But the one that really stroked me after I left, is that life goes on without you, it will not stop for you! You will miss lots of birthdays, weddings, engagements, and even death of those close to you, you will be missing from the pictures, you will not get the new inside jokes, yet you will find a way to deal with all that, because you too, move on in life in a new place with new people.

What is the most important thing you learned abroad?

Duha: Everyday of my journey abroad taught me something new, either about myself, those around me, or just a general common sense.

The most important thing that I am grateful to learn from my journey is that sometimes all you need is a leap of faith. You come across a handful of situations in which you are clueless on what to do, and you learn to trust complete strangers on life matters, you do things which a few years would not make any sense to you, all it takes is faith and knowing that you will be alright wherever you are.

What do you tell your friends who are thinking about going abroad?

Duha: I tell them that being alone in a foreign land isn't as scary as it may seem. That human no matter where they are from are all the same. Color, race, language, religion, social status are all barriers we create in our head, we are all the same. So don't be afraid to go somewhere that you are not familiar with, you will make new families and friends, you will make memories and couches to crash from all over the world!

What's your favorite story to tell about your time abroad?


Duha: In my 4th month in Malaysia, I was working in the east coast region accompanied by an acquaintance from Egypt. We both got very ill and were diagnosed with Dengue fever, a fatal disease caused by mosquitoes. I was not familiar with the disease and hence I did not know what to expect.

But things escalated and my acquaintance and I were rushed into the intensive care unit. We were both new in the area and did not know much people. Upon waking up from the comma the doctor explained that this disease has no cure and that it can easily cause damage in different body parts and eventually lead to death, and that it can only be fought by drinking lots of water.

We stayed in the hospital alone for about 8 days,and I can tell you that during those days I really saw death with my naked eyes and walked out of it. Everyone in the hospital, patients and staff knew us as the girls with no family, but magically, after a few days in the hospital people from the area we were staying in figured that we were hospitalized and suddenly our rooms were filled with guests carrying food and fruits everyday and we went from the girls with no family to the girls with the most guests.

What made this experience unique and special?

Duha: Fighting an illness in a foreign land without your family and friends and thinking that you are dying without getting to see them again is may sound like horrifying experience. Ironically it is one of the richest experience i gained.

I was getting visitors whom I had no idea who they were and they came with food and herbs and tried to lift my spirit telling me that I will be fine soon. My view on everything in life had changed tremendously after beating that disease.

Everything that used to scare and worry me looked so minor and meaningless compared to death, and I realized that we will not be taking anything from this world with us except for our good deeds and leaving a beautiful memory and an impact in this world. And that no matter where you go, god and his angels are around you, you just have to sharpen your senses and feel it.

Tell us about an experience you had that you could not have had at home.

group picture

Duha: I was assisting on a flood relief in an indigenous inhabited village on a jungle in the east coast of Malaysia, where we had the privilege of spending the days in an enchanting area with the loveliest bamboo houses and the most beautiful smiles.

In our first night there the community was holding a ceremony in an enclosed hall made of bamboo floors and walls and grass roof, a small candle was lit, and men and women are assembled in a circle, each gender taking half of the circle.

The women were wrapped in beautiful silhouette sarongs and holding two bamboo logs which are used as instruments creating a thrilling rhythmical beat. Chants are being repeated along with the beats of the bamboo and people we were dancing to it, in darkness, waving leaves of a special tree that is associated with cleansing your soul from evil spirits. The ritual took around 2 hours but Its memory lasts a lifetime for me.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

Duha: Look at the world through your heart, and take a leap of faith! And remember that you will become an Adrenalin junkie because your whole life will be filled with strong and mixed emotions! Enjoy the ride and make the best of it!