When it first started in 2011, the Syrian conflict created a labyrinth of confusion for Syrian students starting from children in kindergartens and reaching all the way to university students. Financial burdens, insecurity, and instability, were only a few of a plethora of barriers that Syrian students are still facing until today.
For female students, the situation is even more severe. According to Harvard International Review, in conflict zones, girls are 2.5 times more likely than boys to be out of school. However, it seems that Syrian women are far from giving up on pursuing their academic dreams, a realization that deeply encourages us at Jusoor to keep providing both the opportunity and tools Syrian students need in order to achieve their big goals. A perfect example of aspiring Syrian women who are actively fighting for their dreams is Sara Aljaafari.
“I used to live a happy, loving life with my family in our home in Damascus. We then started losing the stability we grew up with as a result of the conflict.” Living a peaceful life with her parents and two sisters, Sara grew up in Damascus with her father, a general surgeon, and her mother, a teacher, alongside her two sisters. Being deeply rooted in the city of her childhood, Sara’s family kept hoping the life they once had would return, but unfortunately, it never did.
The Jaafari family left their home in Damascus after an explosion took place next to Sara’s school in 2012. “We knew right there and then that we had no other choice but to accept the harsh truth. We were going to leave Syria and head to Lebanon.” In a try to overcome the different challenges that emerged with the transition, Sara and her siblings focused their efforts on mastering English. Sara knew that the first step for her to engage in the Lebanese educational system was to be able to speak and understand the language. Facing racism and not fully comprehending why this new life is treating her unfairly, Sara turned to her family for support and encouragement. Being the unstoppable individual she is, Sara worked hard to excel between her peers in her new community, proving to herself and others around her that even in the most difficult times, whenever there's a will. there's a way.
After graduating high school with excellent grades, Sara registered at the Lebanese University. However, as a result of strikes and chaos in Lebanon after the pandemic, she wasn’t able to reach her university on many days. The continuous interruption of her studies pushed Sara to realize that she would rather continue her studies elsewhere, and after deep encouragement from her parents, she started applying for scholarships.
“As a Syrian refugee, I thought there was absolutely no chance for me to be chosen for a scholarship, but I then decided to go for the Jusoor scholarship. The whole experience felt surreal. I want to let every Syrian know that we do have a chance, we just need to take the first step”
Sara will be studying Biotechnology at Wilfrid Laurier in Canada. She is looking forward to studying a major that combines biology and technology; two fields that she’s deeply interested in. We can’t wait to see how she’s going to explore her new adventure.