The Jusoor Hardship Fund is helping Syrian students like Fawaz pursue their dreams of higher education.
For Fawaz, the routine of academic life was the only sense of normality after the conflict began in Syria. “University kept me going. We still had normal work, labs, reports, classes.” Fawaz recalls the daily reality of electricity cuts, food shortages, and being separated from family members scattered across continents in search of refuge and work. “I think I blocked most of the small details from that time. Everything was in total chaos,” he said.
Fawaz dreamed of going to university in the U.S. to study biology and music, and although he was able to secure a scholarship, he wasn’t able to afford the financial costs. Instead, Fawaz accepted a one-year exchange scholarship to a German university which covered his living expenses.
Fawaz faced many obstacles studying in Germany, including prejudice and the uncertainty of whether he would obtain his degree. Fawaz said, “I got the degree, but I was in Germany with 500 euros left on me and no job. I had to start building from there.”
Determined to build a new life, Fawaz found part-time work in a research centre in Bonn and set his sights on his next endeavour: a master degrees in bioinformatics. Fawaz managed to secure an unpaid internship in bioinformatics in Cologne and was eventually accepted into a masters program. Fawaz continued to pursue his dream of higher education despite the heavy workload and financial burden.
Fawaz received Jusoor’s Hardship Fund scholarship to help him continue his studies. “I saw the Hardship Fund scholarship on the website and I applied. I got an interest-free $5,000 loan, which I used to live off of for more than one semester until I finished my classes,” he said.
Fawaz is hoping to start a PhD this autumn and earn a regular income so that he can begin repaying the loan. He said,
“I was struggling and then I got the Jusoor Hardship loan; it was a huge validation for me. This encouragement is like saying to someone, what you’re doing is right, you’re going on the right path, you are good enough. Even a small prize or small scholarship gives a huge push to someone trying to pursue their dreams.”
Fawaz continued, “It is a struggle, but there is support for us. Organizations like Jusoor do help when they see someone who is good enough and is willing to take the help and do something with it.”
Fawaz believes others should pursue their dreams despite the challenges. He said, “It is a long, tough road you have to take, but you get through. It’s never the end. It’s never too late. You have to try.”
Click here to find out more about the Jusoor Hardship Fund. Applications open on 1st November 2019. To date, the scholarship has been awarded to 27 outstanding Syrian scholars around the world pursuing their bachelor and master degrees.