Dr. Curt Rhodes
August 11, 2023
Founder's Series: Our Founder and Chief Vision Officer, Dr. Curt Rhodes, on what it means to serve the last.

“Hi fives” must have been on discount last week in Jordan. So many of them around this week. Everybody’s got extras to give out.

You can hear the palm smacks all the way across the Questscope soccer field in Zaatari refugee camp.

What you can’t hear is what happens at home with all that energy when mom asks for help in the kitchen. Uh oh.

Husam is an avid “football” player, full of energy on the field. Oh, and a boy of 13.

Husam was also an avid headache for his mom. “Was,” because something changed for him.

That something (or actually someone) is a mentor named Alaa’. Alaa’ is a trainer in our photography school for Husam to acquire skills for a career outside the refugee camp (small business? free-lancer? photojournalist? wedding photographer?)

Everyone who “joins” Questscope in Zaatari camp is connected with a mentor, from day one. Mentors listen and give clues on how to negotiate life successfully, especially around adults and rules. They reinforce reasons for good choices. They send good vibes – “This is how I did it, and you can do it, too.” They are important.

Mentors are also a significant carbon rod to dial down the reactor heat of trauma – a relationship with a mentor who cares is one of THE most important things known to heal a young person getting their life back after being turned upside down by violence.

Husam was all of one year old when the Syrian crisis exploded on everyone. He actually does not know what “pre-violence” life could be like. He arrived in a world that was already cooked for him – an upside-down place in which the more he understands, the more chance fear and anger could take hold in his heart. But having a mentor loosens that hold and cools that heart – with the healing power only the gift of a personal relationship can offer.

Alaa’ is the “someone” who makes a difference for Husam (and his mother!). And you are the “someone” who provides us resources to train and organize hundreds of Alaa’s for thousands of Husams to be healed through listening and love. And football.  

Hi five me!


Curt pic1
Founder & Chief Vision Officer

Dr. Curt Rhodes

Curt Rhodes has spent close to 40 years working with, and on behalf of, marginalized communities and young people across the Middle East.

As the recipient of the 2014 Dr. Jean Mayer Global Citizenship Award, Dr. Rhodes was recognized by Tufts University for his demonstrated compassion and tenacity in creating a highly effective and determined organization dedicated to the survival and nurturing of the most vulnerable and disenfranchised.

In recognition of his work with marginalized youth in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and in the region, Dr. Rhodes was awarded 2011 Social Entrepreneur of the Year for the Middle East and North Africa by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.

Dr. Rhodes began his career in the Middle East in the early 1980s, as Assistant Dean in the School of Public Health at the American University of Beirut. During the 1982 invasion of west Beirut, he volunteered in a community-based clinic alongside students and friends, doing around-the-clock triage for wounded and ill civilians. That was when the seed idea for Questscope began to take shape. Living and working with people in great suffering compelled him to find a way that he and others in the Middle East could assist the most vulnerable: participating with the voiceless ones in invisible communities.

In 1988, Questscope was founded with the goal of putting the last, first. From the beginning, Questscope worked closely with local communities, identifying their aspirations and together addressing their greatest needs.