A Survivor and Loyal Mentor

Mentor Arabia's Deputy Executive Director, Bechara Ghaoui, has a lot of interesting stories to tell and a thoughtfulness and strength of spirit helps guide him.

14 December 2022 | Blog

How did you first start with Mentor and what inspired you to join?

It was good luck! After graduating with a master’s degree in nutrition and working in the field of marketing and communications, I realised that the combination of my health and nutrition background, as well as my experience, fit perfectly with Mentor’s mission of building a healthier generation. I looked at my own nieces and felt a personal investment in strengthening the next generation. I was also impressed with how Her Majesty had founded Mentor International together with members of the World Health Organization. So, I applied for a job and the journey started!

What is your role at Mentor?

I am both Deputy Executive Director and Head of Communications and Fundraising. This means I work closely with all departments including HR, Programs, and Finance and Administration. I am involved in all departments starting with developing the annual budget, followed by bringing together and reinforcing Mentor’s strategic plan, interviewing and recruiting new employees, communications, and programmatic support. We are a small office with two to three people in each department.

What makes Mentor’s mission important to you?

Two words: empowering youth. It creates an umbrella for all the important work Mentor does to build protective factors and prevent children and young people from engaging in risky behaviors including bullying, violence in all its forms, substance use among many others. A lot of the youths who have gone through Mentor’s Arabia’s programs give us feedback on the extent to which the program influenced their perceptions and life goals. I could never work in an industry that is not close to my heart.

What do you find challenging at Mentor?

The patience you need when you’re working at the level of primary prevention. Our programs have long term impact that is sometimes hard to estimate. We know we are helping young people make sound decisions, but it’s hard to get the immediate feedback. Unlike treating a diagnosable disease, the outcomes and impact of primary prevention are not as tangible. We aim to build resilience, so, it can be hard to showcase success stories. Primary prevention is not something that you see, but it is a science. And it is very cost-effective method. When you start at a very young age – and Her Majesty spoken a lot about this – you increase the likelihood of success.

Mentoring is an investment in the future, and that gives me a lot of energy!

Bechara Ghaoui, Deputy Executive Director, Mentor Arabia

After your own heroic health journey, how has your perspective changed?

This past year, I became very ill and almost died. Before this happened, I had always been a very healthy person. I think that’s how I was able to make a full recovery. It sounds cliché, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Now I know first-hand how fragile life is and why health is something to invest in early in life! I remind people – colleagues, friends, family, mentor youth – not to take their health for granted. I encourage everybody to participate in activities – running, walking, hiking, basketball, football – anything to stay healthy!

Can you describe how mentoring works at Mentor Arabia?

We implement more than 12 different programs. Some programs develop life skills, while others develop technical skills related to mentoring. We even work with small children, but mentoring is a theme available for youths and young adults from 15-24 yrs. We offer career mentoring and career inspiration to help students learn more educational possibilities, the job market, and what obstacles that they can overcome.

What is your highest priority this coming year with mentoring programs in Arabia?

We are expanding our operations in Jordan and building a lot of new partnerships. We are also developing an online one-on-one e-mentoring program. Thanks to the digitalisation of our programs that we invested in during the pandemic, 70% of our programs can be implemented online.

What are some of your favorite hobbies?

I am an avid reader and enjoy learning new languages, right now Spanish on Duolingo. I like being active, training and doing sports to keep myself healthy. I also love to travel and have been to 38 countries. My goal is to reach 40 by 40, which is in two years, so I think I will make it.

Any last thoughts?

I want to encourage people to get in touch if they or someone they know could be interested in learning more about Mentor. I often think about how much I would have benefited if there had been an organization like Mentor helping me deal with all the pitfalls of being young.

For more information, Bechara Ghaoui can be reached at: [email protected]

Short film about Bechara's health battle, against all odds.