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Refugees rebuild their lives through education

The cost of higher education is still out of reach for many refugees. Leah, Asma and Sara highlight the power of education in creating generational change.

Higher education allows refugees to take control of their lives and create a brighter future for themselves and their communities.

With the support of our generous donors, UNHCR has made real progress in providing refugees with higher education opportunities. Just a few years ago, only one percent of refugees had access to tertiary education. Recently, we’ve managed to increase that to seven percent.

Here, three refugees share how higher education has transformed their lives.

Leah pursues her dream of helping children

© UNHCR/Antoine Tardy
Leah is studying Nursing and Midwifery in Malawi.

Leah’s parents fled the Rwandan genocide before she was born. Leah spent her early years in a refugee camp in Malawi, where she was treated for malnutrition. She remains grateful to the medical professionals who helped her.

“The nurses and doctors who took care of me are the reason I am alive today. I told myself that other children would also survive with my help.”

Despite ranking number one in her school, Leah struggled to turn her dream into a reality.

“I remained home for two years with no opportunity or possibility to continue my education. I was worried and confused,” says Leah.

Leah’s life changed when she was offered an Aiming Higher scholarship to study Nursing and Midwifery.

“I was so relieved and thankful when I got accepted into the scholarship program. I was excited to start a new life at university. My door to success had finally opened.”

Leah aims to help others with her degree and inspire them to pursue their dreams with hard work and perseverance.

Asma becomes a leader

© UNHCR/Antoine Tardy
Asma enrolled in a degree in business administration.

Asma’s family fled to Egypt to escape the crisis in Yemen. There, she experienced many challenges before she was able to go to university.

“After high school, I could not register at university,” says Asma. “The fees were simply too high. I stayed home for two years and it was a difficult time.”

Eventually, Asma was able to study business administration through UNHCR’s scholarship program. This opened career opportunities and empowered her to become a leader.

“I told myself I would graduate with the highest grades. I have overcome academic obstacles to be where I am at today.”

Sara studies to become a surgeon

© UNHCR/Antoine Tardy
Sara is pursuing her dream of becoming a surgeon after fleeing the Syrian war.

Sara was born in Syria before fleeing to Iraq in search of safety. Despite the difficulties of living inside a refugee camp, she worked hard to get accepted into medical school. She also volunteered at health centres and hospitals in the camp to help those who were sick.

“The war in Syria destroyed everything, changed everything and brought with it fear and terror,” says Sara. “I was a source of strength for my family and did my best to meet their needs so they could survive.”

Through a UNHCR scholarship, she is now pursuing her dream of becoming a surgeon.

“It means a lot to me to be a part of this program. Without it, many students, including myself, would not be able to complete their higher education.”

How is UNHCR helping?

© UNHCR/Catalina Betancur Sánchez
UNHCR scholarship students share their experiences with a UNHCR officer in Medellin, Colombia.

UNHCR is providing scholarships for bright and determined refugee students.

The Aiming Higher scholarships cover tuition fees and other costs which allow students to learn in safe and comfortable conditions. The scholarship also covers career training, networking opportunities, and support to transition into the workforce.

Please donate now to help more refugees earn a university degree, creating a brighter future for themselves and their community.