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In Zaatari camp, a young Syrian boy with a love for soccer invited me into his home to show off his extensive collection of soccer medals. He so valued them that he packed them into a small pack slung on his shoulder during his journey fleeing the violence of his Syrian home, by foot, seeking refuge and safety in the desert. As I was leaving, he motioned for me to bend down, slipping one of his gold medals around my neck. I didn’t understand the Arabic words he whispered, but the power, love, and impact I felt in that exchange changed me forever. This young man gave what little he had to someone who has so much.

I have received many awards, diplomas, degrees, and certificates in life. None of them have a fraction of the importance of this medal given to me by this young refugee. It is now displayed proudly in my office reinforcing that life is not about being accomplished; it’s about being impactful. It is not about your importance, but your influence.

I define life as challenge. Our creator did not give us life and place us where we are to fail but to succeed majestically and with that majestic success, help others to succeed. Within all of us exists a sense to do good for others, and it is a dark path of self-deception when we fail to adhere to our own inner guidance and justify away our true self. Failure is a choice! You NEVER fail unless you quit. It is far more difficult to fail, with the never-ending torture and discouragement of what could have been, than to succeed triumphantly.

It is irrelevant who you are, where you’re from, or what you do, within yourself you will find a calling. A calling to your life’s mission. Muster the courage to follow and give every fiber of your being to it. It will be crushingly difficult, but you will find help! If you are afraid, GOOD! Opposition is the surest sign you are on the right track. Overcome your fear and you will find your greatest joy. The joy of being your greatest self!

As you live with courage, you will be presented with opportunities to succeed beyond your wildest dreams. It is your job to say YES! Why would a deity or the universe trust someone with an opportunity if they have a history of saying no? Every opportunity, no matter how small, is a chance to prove yourself ready for more and more and more until you look back and realize you stand on a mountain of successes.

Your challenges are your greatest blessing and grandest honor. No great masterpiece is created without first being forged in the fires of adversity. Be honored in your struggle, as it is the surest sign you are entrusted with greatness. Do not ask for your challenge to be removed, but to be strengthened in it, and in the end, you will look back and realize it was the culmination of your greatest challenges that forged your deepest joys!

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Rebuild for Peace is a perfect fit for CEO and founder Christopher Udall who has a background in peacebuilding and vocational training. He has worked in the fields of carpentry, masonry, and construction. He earned a B.A. in Intercultural Studies (Cum Laude), and was inducted  into the Lambda Delta Alpha National Collegiate Honors Society for Anthropology. He also earned Certificates in Intercultural Peacebuilding, and Photography/Video, and used these skills to establish his own photography/video business while earning his degree. Later, he worked as a photographer/videographer for a journalist in refugee camps in Jordan. This experience strengthened his resolve to help youth and empower women as well as men to develop skill sets that will allow them to forge a new path forward, rebuilding lives, communities and peace.

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