You Can Fail a Lot Before Winning


Many students aim to be an engineer. Joining a prestigious university and becoming an inventor is the perfect dream path for many of them. But it is tough. Really tough. Now meet Mundhir Hamdan Al-Qassas, a 28-year-old Palestinian living in Gaza. When he was in  high school he had this very dream. Unfortunately he failed his final exams that would have opened the door to join the best Faculty of Science and Engineering.

But Mundhir was tenacious. He took again the same final exam one year later to fail again and, to his dismay, with grades so bad that he could only join a low level community college. Really tough for someone who aspired to become a mechanical engineer. Although his dream was much more difficult to reach, Mundhir didn’t get discouraged and went on to study at the community college. Only to fail again at his first semester exams.

That would have quashed the dreams of many. Mundhir knew what he wanted to do and since he couldn’t study anymore he would be his own teacher. He took a job as a taxi driver to bring an income to his parents and to save money for his marriage, in the traditional Palestinian way. At first, that’s what his mother thought. Instead of saving for his future wedding, Mundir used his savings to finance his experiments, something that got him a lot of reproaches from her.

The Israeli blockade of the Gaza strip didn’t make it easier for him to get the parts he needed. Nonetheless, he persisted and one of his first inventions, a reading device,  came to him after he saw a quadriplegic young man who was unable to flip through the pages of a book. This gadget is able to automatically turn book pages for individuals with special needs. From there, he dedicated his inventions to them, helping people with disabilities better integrate in the society.

Finally, after 10 years of innovations, his latest invention, an electric smart wheelchair got him the coveted ”International Palestinian Award of Innovation and Distinction.” The funny thing is that Mundhir, the taxi driver, outshone the very most elite of researchers, specialists, innovators, and those with high degrees from across Palestine to win the prize. Mundhir is quick to credit his faith in Allah for his success while the prize money, $15,000, should be enough to quell his mother’s worries.

Mundhir has received several offers to work in a foreign country. He has rejected all of them as he thinks his country needs his inventions the most. Via