DAFI Scholarship Inspires Hope Among Refugee Youth

In 2021, UNHCR supported 40 refugee students to start university in Jordan through the DAFI scholarship. These are some of their stories.

Mohammad, 18, Syrian refugee

“DAFI was my sole motivation for continuing my studies; otherwise, I would have dropped out a long time ago.” 

Mohammad is an aspiring psychologist but as a Syrian refugee living in Jordan he was always worried about being forced to drop out of school because of financial constraints. This year, however, he succeeded in moving one step closer to achieving his dream through the DAFI scholarship program.  

“After the conflict, the Syrian people’s psychology changed, particularly for those who had lost children. I want to use this major to assist them,” says Mohammad.  

After graduating from high school in Jordan with a score of almost 90 percent in his final exams, Mohammad found out through social media about the various scholarships available to Syrian refugees and explains that he persisted in his efforts to obtain one by applying to everything. He is currently a first-year student enrolled in the major of psychological and educational guidance at Irbid Ahliya University. 

Samah, 18, Syrian refugee

Despite the conflict and difficulties her family has faced as refugees in Jordan, Samah, an 18-year-old Syrian refugee says she committed herself to being dedicated, ambitious, and not let her childhood dream fade from an early age.  

In high school, she served as a community volunteer assisting with various educational and environmental initiatives and when her final year arrived, Samah devoted all her time and energy to her studies, achieving an average score of 93 percent in the literature stream.  

With her heart set on attending university and following in her father’s footsteps in studying accountancy, Sameh applied to UNHCR’s DAFI programme, even though, as she explains, she never thought she would be awarded a scholarship.   

“As refugees, our chance to enroll at universities in Jordan is close to zero percent and I thought the DAFI scholarship was a faraway dream which would never be realized,“ said Samah.    

When the names of the scholarship recipients were announced, Samah was ecstatic. She is now a first-year student at Zarqa University studying accounting.   

“The best thing I did is choosing this major, now I am able to pursue my childhood dream,” said Samah.   

Receiving the DAFI scholarship has motivated her even more. She says she wants to excel and become one of the top students by the time of graduation. This, she hopes, will allow her to broaden her career opportunities and later in life help pay for refugees to continue their studies.  

“I am grateful for the DAFI scholarship while also proud to be a part of this family. I would like to thank the DAFI programme  for all the financial and psychological support they provided us. Without this scholarship, I would not have been able to finish my studies”  

Yousif, 29, Iraqi refugee

In 2014, Yousif fled to Jordan in search of a safer life for his wife and three children. Back in Iraq they had been threatened by militia groups which meant that the family quickly had to leave and Yousif’s education was put on hold.  

In Iraq, Yousif had finished Grade 10 but had little hope of completing his education in Jordan because of difficulties he faced transferring his certifications to the new education system. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the option of home schooling made things easier and Yousif completed his final year “Tawjihi” exams in June 2021.  

Despite this, challenges remained.  

“When I finished Tawjihi, I didn’t want to continue my education because I couldn’t afford it, but after learning about DAFI, I changed my mind,” Yousif explained.  

One of the main reasons Yousif insisted on continuing his studies was his desire not to be socially marginalized. After his brother found out about the scholarship and encouraged Yousif to apply, he found new hope. Due to his visual disability, he was initially hesitant but is now glad he took the leap of faith.   

Yousif is now enrolled as a first-year student at Amman Arab University, studying Islamic law. As a devout Muslim who has memorized the entire Quran, he hopes to become an Imam of a mosque.  

His visual impairment, however, still presents challenges as the university is not well equipped for students with disabilities. Yousif relies on simply memorizing what is said when studying or attending classes, and the technology on his phone for submitting his assignments. In the future, he hopes to be able to purchase a laptop, which will allow him to expand his knowledge by downloading voice recordings and having access to many more educational materials.  

“I have a lot of faith in God; if God gave me a bachelor’s scholarship, God would provide me with something even better,” says Yousif.  

 Hamzeh, 18, Syrian refugee

Being a refugee was never an impediment to Hamzeh’s academic success. In his last three years of school in Jordan, Hamzeh earned a scholarship and transferred from a public school to a private school. Even as the only Syrian in the school, Hamzeh says he was always at ease and felt a strong bond and inclusion among his Jordanian peers. 

Since childhood, Hamzeh had dreamed of becoming a doctor. During his final year “Tawjihi” exams he got a score of 97 percent in the scientific stream, one of the highest marks among refugees in Jordan. “I was very pleased with my grades. But even though I wanted to study medicine, there were no scholarships available for that major,” Hamzeh stated.  

After searching on social media, he found out about the DAFI scholarship and is currently a first-year student studying computer science at Zarqa University.  

“I was disappointed when I couldn’t find a scholarship for medicine, but my second option was computer science, which will provide a variety of options once I graduate,” Hamzeh elaborated.  

Hamzeh now plans to make the most of the major in which he is enrolled. His future hopes are to be able to continue his education and earn a master’s degree, and then work for one of the large software companies such as Microsoft.  

“When I grow up and become successful, I want to be able to help all those who need help like me, I will be able to shed light on their problems and personally assist them.”  

Being in another country and away from home is undoubtedly difficult, but Hamzeh says that his dream would be the same even if he were in Syria.  

“I’ve fought more for my future here in Jordan; it would have been easier if I were in Syria. But the DAFI programme has been extremely beneficial to me; without it, I may not have been able to continue at all.” 

The DAFI scholarship program in Jordan is funded by Germany and the Said Foundation.