Joumana Hussein

Duhok Polytechnic University
Business Management
Syrian living in Dohuk

Joumana, 27 years old, from Syria living in KRI since 2014. Diploma of Business Management with the support of a HOPES scholarship funded by the EU through the ‘EU Madad Fund’ at the Duhok Polytechnic University

“Before the events that broke out in Syria, I used to live with my family in Damascus. Life was stable and secure, and I was passionate about studying because I always believed that the academic diploma is a girl’s weapon. In high school, I pursued vocational studies in commerce and since then, I wanted to study economics. Unfortunately, I could not join the Faculty of Economics because I needed one additional grade that year. For this reason, I joined the Technical Institute of Financial and Banking studies. It was known that if become among the top students at the Institute, I would be able to enrol at the Faculty of Economics. During the two years of studying at the Institute, I challenged myself to be among the top students, and I actually graduated in 2011 with an average of 81.3%. I got enrolled at the Faculty of Economics at the University of Damascus until my second year. The situation was very bad during that year: I remember studying for my final exams to the sound of machine-guns and grenades. It was a year full of fear, and I could not complete my university studies because the situation worsened in 2012. I went back to my village in Hassake province, where I worked at the government school and taught primary-education students. In 2014, I moved to the Kurdistan Region where the situation was very hard on me. With time, I was able to adapt to living in the camp. I submitted my documents to complete my studies in the Kurdistan Region, but I did not have the chance to. Therefore, I volunteered in humanitarian organisations inside the camp, which opened new doors for me to develop my personality and self-confidence by giving my society the best I could, and where Y-PEER network, supported by the UN Housing Fund in Dohuk, helped me in this. I am still volunteering as a peer-facilitator. When I heard about the opening of registration to the HOPES scholarship, I applied, but I never thought I would be accepted because it was my third tentative to get a scholarship. Luckily, for me, I was accepted. After six years of interruption, I resumed my studies and completed what I had started years ago. At the same time, I found a job at the Haricar Organization supported by UNFPA, located inside Domiz Camp. Also, I passed the tests for a distance learning scholarship in the programme of “Liberal Studies” related to Regis University and offered by JWL Organization. At first, I didn’t know what to do since all three opportunities were important to me, and it was hard for me to give up on one of them. Luckily, for me, the organization offered me a part-time job and supported me to continue my studies while working. I was able to manage between all the opportunities—studying at the Institute, going to work, then going home in the evening to rest, and completing my distance learning programme and assignments. Also, sometimes I attended trainings, seminars and meetings related to the organizations where I volunteered. Despite everything, and knowing that this could affect my health, I was able to excel in all domains, complete my work to the fullest extent possible, acquire new experiences and excel in my studies. Thank God, I completed my studies at the Institute. I am proud to have outdone myself and be the first in my class at the Institute. I believe the HOPES project was a new room for hope that allowed me to continue what I had started years ago. In fact, I believe I am an ambitious person in life; I always strive to acquire new experiences and skills in all domains. I volunteered and worked with many organizations: Harika, UNFPA, Y-peer network, IRC, Save the children, Qandil, DOVY, and Baghdad Women Association, in different programmes that support all categories. I facilitated many awareness-sessions, trainings and seminars that support women and youth. Moreover, I took advantage of my studies in business administration to become a trainer for small projects, where I trained 60 women among Yazidi refugees, displaced people and the host community. It was a very successful experience and the assessment was positive from the Baghdad Women Association. During my studies at the Institute, I also presented many educational sessions to my friends at the Institute, and I always used to help them in their studies. It is normal to face challenges every day in life, especially in the refuge environment. However, we must always be stronger than such challenges and face them rationally. I plan to complete my studies with excellence and merit, God willing, while developing my skills and experience in all life-domains, acquiring new experiences through my humanitarian and volunteering work in humanitarian organizations, and developing myself. I believe every step I take is an achievement. I wish one day to motivate others and, for this reason, I want to develop my personality. This is the beginning of the way towards achieving my ambitions.”

By Joumana Hussein