Inspire One Million
The Ibrahim family act to inspire a million students to reach their potential, free of charge
Zenifer Khaleel, March 26, 2017
Success is a reward wired into our thinking. No one likes to fail. Dr.Sangeeth Ibrahim and his wife Dr.Sunayana started their mission in 2003 to inspire one million students reach their potential in UAE, India and other GCC countries. Their #MissionInspire1Million is free of charge and includes the efforts of their two kids, Amaan and Jehan, who freely acknowledge their parents as their biggest influence.
Sounds amazing. To find out, visit The Family Conference 2017 held by Dubai-based NGO Destination Success UAE (DSUAE) on May 12 in Sharjah. Hosted free of charge, the half-day forum will bring together students, parents, teachers and counsellors for multiple sessions that motivate and inspire new ways of thinking. This year’s conference follows the first one held in April last year.
Destination Success, First Family Conference, April 2016
India’s former President Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam officially inaugurated DS in November 2013 at the University of Sharjah. True to his principles, Dr.Kalam insisted he would not address any regional, religious or commercial organisations. When DS approached him, he agreed to its inauguration. The event was presided by HE Jassem Al Baloushi, former Chairman of the Sharjah Tatweer Forum and Member of the Sharjah Legislative Council. He continues to be a DS patron.
Destination Success UAE inauguraion, former Indian President, Dr.A P J Abdul Kalam, November 2013
Srivalsan Murugan, Principal of Our Own English School, Sharjah, admits he is a critic by nature. But Sangeeth and Sunayna's workshops amazed him. “I knew Sangeeth as a parent, since his son Amaan began his formal education with us in Grade 1. This couple has conducted many workshops in my school too. I attended their first family conference last year. Their motivational speeches touch even the most fractious and intransigent people. That connection endures because beyond succeeding in their mission, they do not look for further rewards. My wish? ‘May their tribe increase’.”
About last year’s DS Family Conference, Kamarlaisa, Principal of East Point Indian International School, Ajman remarked “my students attended DS intervention sessions gaining enough confidence to perform on such platforms in future. It brings students across the UAE closer. I hope they have such outstanding sessions more frequently.”
“Every child has the potential to make it big,” says Dr Sangeeth Ibrahim. He is the founder of DS, its research and content developer. “The child must have a burning desire to win and the right tools to learn and get there. Our mission is to provide these learning tehniques.” His wife Dr Sunayna Iqbal, co-founder and operations director of DS, adds “The first step is to instil the belief in students that they can work smartly enough if they strategise their study plans.” Together, this couple developed methods to identify blocks that hold a child back, then guide that student into overcoming them.
To be self-inspired and committed is a rare trait. When an entire family shares it and delivers great results for over a decade, it received recognition. The Ibrahim family received the Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Family Award in 2016. The award comes under the Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Award for Distinguished Academic Performance (HBRADAP), a government entity.
Right from their youth, Sangeeth and Sunayna shared a common passion: self-improvement, skills-promotion and training. In 2002, Sangeeth joined an NGO based in Kerala, India, volunteering at The Centre for Information and Guidance India (CIGI) for the social and educational development of rural and socially marginalised communities. While At CIGI, he received training in neurolinguistic programming and transactional analysis – psychological techniques to build confidence, inculcate motivation and improve communication skills. Shortly thereafter, he became the leader of the Youth Leadership Programme (YLP) Implementation team.
Back in UAE, Sangeeth, currently Vice-President and Head of Learning and Development at the Sharjah Islamic Bank, began training sessions and 2-day workshops for schoolchildren in Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman in 2003. His always had his family’s help and support. His reputation spread through social media campaigns, TEDx talks and TV shows. Destination Success was set up a decade later, to create an online community imbued with the passion to learn, to teach and make a difference by giving.
Destination Success medical camp, Sonapur, India
“Our intensive training programmes run throughout the year. Our team of trainers and mentors cover goal setting, interpersonal skills, confidence building, reading and writing skills in it.” says Sangeeth. This service extends to GCC and India reaching thousands of students in the last 10 years.” Sunayna adds.
The Ibrahims pay for many of the miscellaneous expenses involved. Well-wishers often come forward to offer venues and refreshments.
The ‘Inspire One Million’ campaign
Accepting that educational accreditation vindicates their accomplishment, Sangeeth and Sunayna took their doctorates from Banasthali Vidyapeeth, India, in 2014. While Sangeeth took up Employee Engagement and Development, Human Resources Management, Sunayna pursued her doctorate on the topic of "academic excellence of students".
Returning to UAE, they put their skills into practice helping children burdened with poor academic performance, by working on their ambition, self-confidence and learning techniques. “We hope to to reach more students with the #MissionInspire1Million campaign” says Sangeeth.
Much needed pat on the back
“All our activities are based on the latest research and techniques in neuroscience and neuropsychology. But since we offer a free service, people may tend to consider it below par. The Hamdan Award vouches for the effectiveness of our work. It helped us reach more students,” says Sangeeth. “It was gratifying to be appreciated.” adds Sunayna “I play the role of a mom, not just for my kids, but for all our wards.”
Kids Amaan and Jehan were quite excited about winning the award, although “the interview” Jehan admits “was a tad long”.
The Ibrahim Family
Learning from their parents
Amaan is a Grade 10 student at Our Own English High School, Sharjah (Boys). He says: “My parents demonstrate that a life spent in service to others is a life worth living. I first visited a labour camp for the first time at the age of 10 years. Many affluent people were serving food to the labourers. It left an indelible mark on me. Giving is not an option. It is a must.”
Jehan is in Grade 4 at Our Own English High School, Sharjah (Girls). She was a baby when her parents’ took her in a pram to workshops and conferences. She enjoys public speaking and designing toys. She does paper quilling to support CRY (Child Rights and You).
The one million dream
The Ibrahims help more than 5,000 students each year. “We have done this for a decade now. One million appears impossible… but what is life without an impossible dream?” questions Sangeeth. “We do not have to spend millions on charity or do great impressive things. But lay down what you hold in your hand. It can be used to help many.”
Sunayna's strong belief in using resources to make a difference wishes “to hold on to the conviction that I have done my duty. I do not want to look back and say ‘I could have’ but rather ‘I went all out’.”