“What A Relief” Podcast 42: Empowering Young ChangemakersB.C. Dodge & R. Mordant Mahon talk to Layan Okkeh and Vera Murad from TechGirls in this episode of “What a Relief!” — IRUSA’s official podcast.

Today’s podcast welcomes its youngest guests to date. And yet, what the two international students lack in years, they make up for in determination, talent and heart.

Layan Okkeh and Vera Murad, 16 and 17 from Jordan and Palestine, spent the day shadowing the Communications Department at Islamic Relief USA as part of a program called TechGirls. The highlight of their day was getting to participate in the “What a Relief” podcast.

According to the United States Department of State website, TechGirls is, “an international summer exchange program designed to empower and inspire young girls from the Middle East and North Africa to pursue careers in science and technology.”

Layan and Vera are star examples of the potential of programs like this. “I learned a lot from this program,” Vera shares, “and I hope to give back to my country what I learned. And I hope to be a changemaker.” Layan has wanted to do something for her community since she was a child. “I wanted to do something to change the world. And TechGirls gave me hope,” she says.

Layan is designing a mobile app that will benefit refugee camps in her home country of Jordan. The app will list every refugee camp in Jordan along with its specific areas of need. That way, the user is plugged into the camps and knows how they can give the most useful donation. Layan explains that lots of people like to donate food, but many camps have enough food and desperately need diapers, for example. She sets out to fix this problem with her app. “As a dream, I want to expand this project to all of the Middle East,” she says.

As for Vera, she plans to organize a summit that gives its stage to successful women all over the world. The purpose of the summit is to empower young girls to follow their dreams.

The creative juices don’t stop flowing there. “I also have an idea to teach the elderly how to use smart phones,” Layan chimes in. She believes it could help them remember to take their medicine and make their lives easier.

The second half of the podcast takes an unexpected turn of events. For the first time ever, B.C. and Mordant flip the script and let their 16 and 17-year-old guests take over the show. Vera and Layan come prepared to host, with questions that may or may not cause Carl and Mordant to break into a nervous sweat.

This episode contains many gems you will not want to miss, from B.C. using the word ‘computering…ing’, to Mordant confessing the impact of Harry Potter on his life goals.

Tune in to hear Vera and Layan’s inspiring stories, and learn how the hosts of the “What a Relief” podcast got into the podcast business in the first place.


**And now you can reach out to us at our new email address: warp@irusa.org!**
“What a Relief!” is the official podcast of Islamic Relief USA. Co-hosted by social media specialist B.C. Dodge Mordant Mahon, IRUSA’s “What a Relief!” puts a human face on what’s going on in the world and how you can enact positive change in it. New episodes every week!


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