Nir Pinko remembers feeling as a young boy that he would one day stand alone with no one to support him, so he must do his best at school in order to get into university and find a good job.
As the youngest of four boys growing up in a poor suburb of Beer Sheva, it always fell to Nir to help his parents, particularly when his father suffered a work accident and need several operations. While still at high school, he took responsibility for much of the house work and shopping, and he asked that his national service be somewhere local to home so that he could continue to help out.
Nir always wanted to study engineering and believed that if he worked hard he could find a good job and fulfil his potential. He took a shift job in the technical support department of a telephone company while studying to get into university, and he managed to get excellent grades and win a place at the prestigious Ben Gurion University to study Information Systems Engineering.
The pressures of helping his parents, working long shifts and studying at university turned out to be too great to manage. Fortunately a university staffer recognized the problem during Nir’s first semester and arranged for him to receive a Moshal Scholarship.
“Suddenly I felt the pressure drop”, recalls Nir. “I knew that I didn’t have to support myself while studying and this enabled me to focus on my examinations and finish the year with a 92% grade point average. It was thanks to Moshal and the feeling that, while I was supporting my family, here was a family that wanted to support me.”
Nir appreciates many of the other benefits of being a Moshal Scholars. The workshops that helped him to focus on fulfilling his potential; the availability of professional careers counsellors to advise him on finding a job. Just knowing that there was a team of people who were always there to support him gave him confidence in the future.
During his 3rd year at university, Nir married another scholarship student. They both decided to volunteer at a local home for the elderly as their way of giving back to society. “I could have chosen to volunteer with kids and computers but, perhaps because of my parents’ experiences of ill health, I decided to dedicate my spare time to helping elderly citizens who are lonely and dependent. While assisting them with their physiotherapy exercises, we talked about their lives and their own experiences at university and in the world of work, and I learned much from their accumulated wisdom. While paying forward what I had received from Moshal, I actually became richer from the experience!”
After graduating from Ben Gurion University, Nir is working for Check Point, one of Israel’s leading hi-tech companies, as a programmer. He hopes that this will enable him to support his family – not just his wife and young son but also his parents for as long as they need him – and also to contribute to society.
Inspired by the words of Martin Moshal, Nir’s dream is to help to transform the lives of other disadvantaged kids living in the south of Israel. “There are new technology companies opening up in this area, but they bring staff from other cities to come and live here and work for them. I believe that we need to find a way to enable local kids to break into those companies and share in the opportunities that are being created. Kids need encouragement to believe in themselves, and they need to know that they are not alone – there are wonderful people in this world who want to help them.”