Faces of Mercy

Fatima Hadj-mahammad

Fatima Hadjmahammed was born in Algeria in 1963, one of 14 children and attended school through the 8th grade.  She moved to the United States in 2003 – at that time it was her dream to go back to school. “When I came to Mercy Education Project, I found what I was looking for – I felt like I was with family.”

 “I am grateful for the harmony at MEP, and especially grateful for the teachers. They are so amazing and very encouraging.  The school’s diversity has given me the opportunity to know other cultures and enrich my knowledge about other countries in the world. In addition to American students, I met women from Mexico, Somalia, Egypt, Morocco, Yemen, Jordan and Cameroon.”

Fatima remembers the exact date she passed the fourth and final GED test: December 15, 2015 -- just under one year after enrolling at MEP. “I felt excited and very happy when I got the news.” She is currently attending Henry Ford Community College and was thrilled to report that she received an A in her first math class.  Ultimately she would like to study chemistry in order to learn how to make perfume.  Fatima has had a lifelong interest in beauty – whether visual or olfactory – and would like to apply that in innovative ways.

“Today I am grateful. I am proud to be a graduate from MEP – the door is open for me. I am seeking to pursue my education in Art, Math, Science and Chemistry.”

“I say thank you to everyone who gave me a helping hand to help me accomplish my GED. Without MEP’s assistance, I would not be at this level today.”

Congratulations to Fatima and all 13 graduates who received their GEDs on June 3, 2016.

Maria Diaz

Maria Diaz, 34, has progressed from 3rd grade reading level to the GED level in just two years at Mercy Education Project. With a husband and five boys, she has her hands full at home but still she finds time to pursue her studies at home. “My husband wasn’t supportive at first and hasn’t said so, but I can tell that he is proud of me,” Maria reports.   She describes her boys as her motivation to go on and keep improving her English. At home, she speaks English with them and they speak Spanish with her. Although her initial intention was focused on better understanding English, Maria has found since being at MEP that she wanted to achieve the GED certification as well. “MEP is a good place to start again to achieve my goals. I am learning a lot about myself and realize I have qualities I didn’t know I have.” Soon Maria will take the first of the four GED tests, in math. First time around she scored just one point short of passing. This time she is determined.

“I see myself working in a hospital – either in mental health or acute care – because I like helping. I know I will one day achieve this dream of mine.”


Gregory Moore – Tutor and Teacher

“Approximately three-quarters of MEP’s adult students are minority women who did not complete high school and/or have failed in earlier attempts to complete the GED,” said Gregory Moore, a retired IBM professional. “More than 50 percent of the women come to MEP reading at a 5th grade level or lower and come from low-income households. Without Mercy Education Project to provide skill development and a GED, these families are likely to continue in poverty.”

A MEP volunteer since 2007, Moore, 61, uses his expertise from teaching IBM’s new hires and a 5-year stint after retirement in education. Last year, he was hired on to the Women’s Program staff as a part time teacher. He is living proof that sharing his time provided even more than he expected.

“I left teaching because my parents’ health started to deteriorate and I became their caregiver,” he remembers. “During this difficult time, volunteering at MEP teaching language arts helped me stay focused with a positive mental state. To see girls and women I tutored advance and gain confidence gave me a sense of accomplishment and gratitude.”

Moore notes the strong support from Detroit’s business community but adds individuals such as himself come forward on their own by acting on a need to contribute to those in the area in special need. “I am truly in awe of the students’ passion and determination. The women are focused on accomplishing their goals and want to show their children that if you work hard you will be rewarded for your efforts by successfully reaching your dreams.”


John King - Tutor

 You can say – John King simply loves math and is devoted to helping others master mathematical concepts that are the basis for success in everyday life and many professions. He tells a cute story of teaching percentages to a waitress on a napkin in a local restaurant and the excited feeling he had when she ‘got it’. He is always teaching, everywhere he goes!

John King came to MEP in 2007 when a current volunteer suggested his math skills would be an asset to the Women’s program at Mercy Education Project, and he has never looked back.  During his 40 plus years as an engineer with Ford Motor Company, John, now retired, spent many years as a manager of engineering education, mentoring and teaching others. John already had a long volunteer resume before arriving at 1450 Howard Street, continuing to teach and mentor after retirement. He tutored at Loyola High School in Detroit, Focus Hope, Northville Youth Assistance and taught Elementary and High School math application through a program at the Society of Automotive Engineers.

John teaches two days a week in the Women’s Educational Services program at Mercy Education Project. He also tutors students when extra one-to one help is needed. But John’s service to MEP goes beyond teaching. For years he tutored the children and grandchildren of his friends and when John offered to refurbish classrooms at MEP – he called upon those friends to volunteer to get the project done over a long weekend. John also wanted to increase the number of men who support MEP so he began to recruit friends to come to the Doorway Dinner fundraising event each year – he named his group Men for MEP