Our World is Alive with Zam Zam

‘Doonya ba omeed zenda ast’ - The world is alive with hope

‘Doonyaie ma ba Zam Zam zenda ast’ - Our world is alive with Zam Zam

When I say that Zam Zam is changing peoples’ lives and their world, I am not saying this lightly.


This past year my mother, Farzana Nawabi, became one of the first recipients of Zam Zam’s scholarship in partnership with the Afghan American Conference (AAC). I recall that very moment when the scholarship recipient was described without her name being mentioned. The recipient was not able to attend the conference, but they asked for her daughter to come up on stage. I was sitting in the crowd and telling myself, “There is no way that they are referring to me.” All of a sudden the AAC Organizing Team stared at me and right there and then I realized – IT WAS MY MOM. She won the scholarship!

Tears were running down my face and I lost all control. The reason being is that my family and I really needed this break; especially my mother. This scholarship enabled her to continue working towards obtaining her Bachelors in Nursing and become a Registered Nurse. This year, our budget was tight and we were short in covering her tuition. Being the selfless person my mother is, she was willing to take a pause on her education. She was used to a life where a miracle was just a concept, but not something that she would benefit herself from. Life has not been easy for her and there was no such thing as a break when it came to my mother having to pause her education. She had to support her husband’s endeavors and family in another country; Germany - where she didn’t know the language or the culture. However, she has not once complained or asked for anything. When it came time for her two daughters to attend college, she patiently waited for us to finish here in the United States. Not a mention of resentment has ever come out of her. She continued her selfless ways to better the lives of her loved ones. So it was a foreign feeling for her when she received something to help her reach her dreams and aspirations.

I kept on pressing my hands and thanking the One, the most high. And I couldn’t stop saying thank you to Yusuf Nessary and his Zam Zam Team. With overwhelming emotions, all I could do is cry and hug the person who delivered the news. This is so not like me, but if the world only knew what obstacles my mother had to overcome to resume her studies after almost 25 years, the world would cry with me too.  

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This woman lost her father as a three-month infant and was displaced in the United States during the Cold War with her family when she was eight years old. She witnessed war, poverty, the loss of her mother, and yet still stepped up as an incredible mother and wife. She is the definition of ‘self-made’. No one taught her. No one spoon-fed her. But somehow she speaks three languages fluently, has worked full-time in multiple countries, raised three successful children and up-kept any social and cultural duties as a wife. All of this without any complaints. She rose from adversity and set her own path towards success.

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Fast forward to our current lives – My mother is one of the top students in her cohort. She is a leader in her program and even hosts nightly study sessions at our house to help her peers bring their grades up. That is the person my mother is. She believes that if other women rise with her that everyone wins! And just like that, she was able to pass all her pre-requisites that enabled her to be part of the college’s white coat ceremony. This has been a dream of hers that she never thought would come to fruition. All of her hard work and sleepless nights of studying while working full-time has finally paid off. The white coat ceremony was a very emotional one for her and our family. Among many young students were a handful of elder working mothers; one of them was mine. You could tell the difference between her face and her colleagues. She was emotional with glossy eyes. She had a smile from ear to ear. This day was HER day and ONLY about her. No more waiting, no more pausing, and no more “what if’s”. This meant something much more than just a white coat ceremony. This was validation. Validation that she belonged in the nursing cohort. Validation that she DESERVED the scholarship that was given to her. Validation that SHE did THIS. I felt more proud that day than my own graduation. All my success was because of her sacrifices. I owed her everything and I finally was able to witness the world giving this fierce and powerful woman what she deserved.

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Zam Zam might be known as an organization that provides clean and sustainable water in various parts of the country, which is extraordinary. However, this initiative of giving Afghan Americans or non-traditional students a path to pursue their education is another example of the great work that Zam Zam and the generosity of Ray Youssef from Paxful, who contributed towards the scholarship in Bitcoin, is instilling in our communities. Scholarships as this one are unheard of. I hope more scholarships like continue to exist and benefit our communities. Our story is not unique and it can be echoed within our community. The need is very real.  

I feel like both my mother and I have joined a family; a family that is cheering us on from all parts of the country. And for that we will forever be grateful.

With Gratitude, 

Sofia Schersei

Proud daughter of Farzana Nawabi

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