Malikha, a 24-year-old Afghan refugee, studies medicine at Osh State University. She has been living in Kyrgyzstan with her parents and siblings since 2009. While still in school Malikha grew interested in biology and anatomy, and later realized that she wants to become a doctor.
But as Malikha’s father is seriously ill and her parents also need to provide for four other children, Malikha’s dream appeared completely out of reach.
That was until Malikha contacted the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) for advice and learnt about the DAFI (Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative) scholarship programme, which offers refugee students the possibility to earn an undergraduate degree.
“When I learnt about the programme, I immediately started collecting documents and making other preparations to apply. I was very anxious because my whole future depended on this scholarship. It was my only hope to receive a good education,” says Malikha. After a competitive selection process Malikha was awarded a DAFI scholarship.
Malikha cherishes the opportunity to study medicine and is determined to become a good professional: “I am very happy to get a chance to study, to realize myself in society. I know my parents and my whole family will be proud of me.”
In her free time Malikha reads books about medicine and the biographies of famous doctors, dreaming that one day she herself may become a great doctor too. In future she would like to open a hospital in Kyrgyzstan, to help poor people who cannot afford high quality medical assistance.
“DAFI gives us refugees opportunities and hopes for future. I hope one day we will be able to help other young people who need support and want to change this world for the better.”
Education helps people forced to flee build better futures. It also enables refugees to develop professional skills and knowledge that they can use for the benefit of their host community. But globally just 3% of refugees are currently enrolled in higher education.
UNHCR works together with partners, including the DAFI programme, to provide displaced children access to quality education so they can pursue better lives. Through the dedicated support of the governments of Germany, Denmark and the Czech Republic, UNHCR and private donors, the DAFI programme has supported over 18,000 young refugees globally to undertake tertiary studies since 1992. Malikha is one of 83 refugee youths in Kyrgyzstan who have yet benefitted from DAFI scholarships since 1997.