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Volunteer Spotlight: Zakaria


Meet Zakaria El Kohli, a Teen Mentor volunteer at Exodus!

Zakaria moved to the US from Morocco 5 years ago and settled in Indianapolis. He’s been working in the IT field for the last 13 years and has worked as a Team Lead for IT Technical Support.

Zakaria started volunteering at Exodus because “I knew I can make a difference in the lives of others.” He first volunteered with Exodus during a visit to the US in 2016. He said that he was very impressed by the impact the organization had on refugees’ lives. “Being an immigrant myself, I knew how challenging and hard it is to be in a new country and to integrate into a different culture than back home.”

Zakaria has volunteered in different ways at Exodus over the years and has “enjoyed every bit of my volunteer experience.” Most recently, he is volunteering as a teen mentor, which has “allowed me to teach and learn new things with my mentee, Gabriel.” He has learned a lot about Gabriel’s home country, culture, food, and some Swahili too! Being a teen mentor has shown them many experiences and places. Together they have discovered how beautiful Indy is, especially as a new home.

One of Zakaria’s favorite moments was “when I first introduced my puppy to Gabriel!” Gabriel has always been afraid of dogs and never dared to pet one. In the beginning, he was very scared, but after a few moments and a lot of encouragement, he pet the dog and realized that there was nothing to be afraid of. They started playing together in the park and have become best friends since then.
especially as a new home.

Volunteering at Exodus has introduced Zakaria to “a diverse range of people from all walks of life.” He’s become more compassionate and gained a new perspective on life. “There is no better way to understand the value of helping people in need,” than by spending time with them and hearing their stories. “Coming to the USA is a big challenge, and it is very courageous to restart over somewhere away from family and loved ones,” he said. He hopes that people understand that “refugees are just like us, expect they were in unfortunate circumstances that made them leave their homes.”

We are so grateful to have Zakaria as a volunteer at Exodus and thank him for his continuing support!