SAN DIEGO -- We met 15-year-old Ahmed and his sister 18-year-old Aya at their first mentoring session with former architect, now San Diego County Supervisor, Ron Roberts.
“These children have gone through so much, they’ve seen things we would never wish upon anyone,” said Roberts.
The mentoring program ran by non-profit Roads of Success focuses on refugee children, most from Middle Eastern countries ravaged by terrorism.
Jacqueline Isaac started the program after visiting a Syrian refugee camp last year where she met a 6-year-old boy.
“And the boy looked up and he said to me: see that plane over there? I hope it destroys the country of Jordan; I was shocked, why would a 6 year old boy want that on any country?” she recalled; “at 6 years old when a boy is thinking like that, you know that he needs mentorship, you know that he needs healing,” Isaac stressed.
It’s precisely the young and impressionable who Islamic Extremists are after.
Targeting them for recruitment to fight the West, teaching them to kill without mercy for the sake of an Islamic State.
It’s why this mentorship program is so crucial, said Isaac.
“I think that they can go one way or another depending on what happens in that time of their lives as teenagers, and that’s for anyone when you’re a teenager that guidance it can take you from being a great leader, it can make you wonderful or it can lead you into gangs, into drugs, into terrorism,” said Isaac who defended her efforts against critics who believe she is playing into dangerous stereotypes against Muslims; “these children have seen war, they need this” she rebutted.
As for Ahmed and Aya, they arrived in the United States nearly a year ago and have been part of the mentor program for a few weeks.
They say, so far, they’re happy to have left Iraq.
“6 persons I know died from my family,” said Aya.
And they’re looking forward to their new life.
“The United States have a freedom,” the young lady with a veil added.
The program will hold a gala event Saturday where they'll announce plans to grow the initiative.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, Sheriff Bill Gore and other community leaders will be in attendance.
To learn more about the program and the event click here.