In the 2016-2017 academic year, the Amal Foundation and Jusoor awarded their first scholarships to two Syrian refugee youth living in Za’atari Refugee Camp in Jordan: Yasin and Nawar. Whether in the camp or on their new campus, Yasin and Nawar are inspiring young leaders committed to building a brighter future for themselves and their community.
Yasin and Nawar celebrate their registration at Zarqa University with Amal student mentor, Cole
Life in the Camp
Yasin and Nawar fled war in Syria and sought safety in Jordan’s Za’atari Refugee Camp. Despite the trauma and challenges they faced as refugees, Yasin and Nawar both sought to rebuild their lives and become leaders in service of their Za’atari Camp community. Yasin worked two jobs to support his family and his community: one with War Child, a nonprofit that works in remedial education and social support for children, and the other with FPSC, a nonprofit that works with people with disabilities. At War Child, Yasin led activities for youth, ranging from writing to photography, and at FPSC, he support children with disabilities through inclusive recreational programs. Yasin spent any free time he had volunteering as part of the Syrian Youth Committee, a youth group that leads service activities ranging from reading programs in the camp schools to cultural events for families in the camp. Nawar was also actively engaged in her community. She worked as a trainer in the TIGER girls empowerment program, leading trainings and mentoring adolescent girls in the camp, and volunteered at FPSC in her free time to organize theater activities for children with disabilities.
Yasin and Nawar both sought to continue their education. Although university education was too expensive to pursue, Yasin and Nawar continued learning and improving their skills through classes offered by nonprofits in the camp. Nawar focused on improving her language with English courses and building professional skills in training and facilitation. In turn, Yasin took courses in everything from sign language to project management to coding.
Life on Campus
In Fall 2016, Yasin and Nawar were selected as the first recipients of the Jusoor-Amal Scholarship. The Fund selected them because of both their commitment to continuing education and their passion for community service. “Yes, (my schedule) was tiring,” said Yasin, “but it was also a fun and good thing, because with this work, you feel yourself to be an active and productive person in the community.” Yasin and Nawar’s lives changed as they became students again. Yasin enrolled in Management Information Sciences and Nawar enrolled in English Language and Literature.
As students, Yasin and Nawar’s life during the school year has only become more full and busy. They have dedicated themselves to their studies and engagement at the university, while still staying active in their leadership roles in the camp through volunteers and work roles.
At first, the transition was challenging. Yasin and Nawar had been cut off from formal education since leaving Syria. They had family and work responsibilities to balance with their university studies. Nawar had difficulty coordinating her work at school schedule at first. She reflected, “Eventually, I moved my work shift so I could work at nights; I couldn't arrange my work schedule otherwise based on my university schedule.” Yasin also had to work to arrange his schedule between all his responsibilities: “My week was just about full. I would have my classes at the university all day on Monday and Wednesday and I would work Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday with the children and the program. On Friday and Saturday, I would sometimes have volunteer projects to do with the Syrian Youth Committee.” Despite the initial challenges and their packed schedules, Yasin and Nawar both excelled in their first year of studies. Yasin even placed first in his major both semester, receiving an award of recognition from the president of the university.
Although the summer may be a break for most college students, it was filled with hard work for Yasin and Nawar. Nawar registered for an English course so she would be able to master more subjects for her next semester, while still continuing her work in the evenings and weekends. Yasin enrolled in the summer session at the university, taking three subjects in only two months.. Despite the heavy workload, Yasin still picked up a night job to bring in income for his family, working every night after university as a guard at a camp community center from 6pm to 12am.
Yasin and Nawar are excited for the upcoming school year. After placing first in his major both semesters, Yasin is most excited for the opening honoring ceremony where he will be honored for this achievement by the university’s president: “its a big recognition of appreciation that raises ones spirit,” he said. Nawar is excited to get back into the university community. She reflects, “I am most excited to return to school to see my friends at university and begin my university schedule again. Now, I have the ability to master more subjects.”
Yasin and Nawar are hard-working and passionate youth leaders, working everyday to improve themselves and their community. The Jusoor-Amal Scholarship Fund helps these youth, who have overcome extremely difficult situations, to gain more skills and tools to continue their work at making their community a better place. Higher education is important for Yasin, Nawar, and other Syrian refugees to continue to build their communities today and strengthen their leadership to rebuild Syria in the future.
Four new Jusoor-Amal Scholarship recipients have joined Yasin and Nawar on campus this year and are contining their own paths as Syrian youth leaders. The Amal Foundation depends on the support and contributions of people around the world to help Syrian youth like Yasin and Nawar to support their communities in the present and rebuild Syria in the future.
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