University Scholarships for Students in Palestine

by Middle East Children's Alliance
University Scholarships for Students in Palestine
University Scholarships for Students in Palestine
University Scholarships for Students in Palestine
University Scholarships for Students in Palestine
University Scholarships for Students in Palestine
University Scholarships for Students in Palestine
Lina hard at work with her books
Lina hard at work with her books

Lina, 20, is a computer science student at Al-Azhar University. She is a refugee living in Shati Refugee Camp with 5 brothers and 5 sisters. She lives with her siblings, her parents, and her grandma in a small home in the camp.

Lina is one of the 121 Palestinian students who received a scholarship from MECA this year.

Lina explains:
 “In 2020, I have graduated from high school with 78% average, I have never expected that I would join the university and complete my educational life because of the economic condition and the high cost of education expenses. When I found MECA scholarship application on social media, I applied. Thankfully, I got this scholarship that helped me to continue my education. I am now a sophomore at my university.

“I look forward to building my abilities, talents and investing all the opportunities that I get. My field of study will help my generation keep up with the 21st century skills and requirements. While MECA scholarship helps me to continue my education, I have joined "Eng Tech" team for computer engineering students. The team works to provide free workshops and training courses on programming, freelancing, designing and writing for other students.

“I am very excited to learn and I hope that I will be a part of solving students’ problems in the Gaza Strip.”

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Malak's special photo saying "Thank you"
Malak's special photo saying "Thank you"

Thank you so much for supporting our university scholarship project. Since our last student spotlight on seniors got a great response from you, we thought we’d give it another go this year, and so we spoke to the amazing and ambitious Malak. Malak is just one of many impressive young people who are receiving scholarships thanks to your support.

Malak is a 19 year old from Jenin, currently studying Medicine at the Al-Quds University in the West Bank. She’s a straight A student, involved in so many voluntary projects, and from her cover letters and essays (that she attaches to her application) she feels a huge sense of responsibility towards her family. This is her second year receiving a scholarship from MECA. Normally it is our aim to draw smiles on their faces when telling them they’ll receive the scholarship to ease a little bit of the huge financial burden on their shoulders; but this year it was Malak who drew a smile on our faces.

She filled every essay question so eloquently and beautifully, but additionally this year she sent us a “thank you” video for granting her the scholarship last year, and we were simply touched, very touched.

Malak’s life is not an easy one. Her father has been detained by Israeli forces time and time again put under administrative detention (held without trial), and now after he was released he was injured during his work as a construction worker so he’s unable to do continue working. Her mother has raised her and her 5 other siblings, her and her brother are both studying at university level while the rest of her siblings are in school.

Covid-19 hit them hard, like lots of people in Palestine and around the world. Her father is unable to work and so Malak helps with the education of her younger siblings while studying remotely in addition to keeping up with her own studies and voluntary work.

Yet when she wrote us this year and sent us the video, she did not focus on any of this. She focused on her future ambitions of becoming a pediatrician and setting up a fund to support students with financial difficulties to pursue their dreams. She even wrote us several times asking to volunteer with us (on top of everything else she’s involved in), because she loves how we work on supporting children in Palestine, especially in education.

Students like Malak always warm our hearts and push us to continue so we’re able to be yet another supporting figure in their amazing journey to reach their goals. In her video she says towards the end after the “thank you” that she’s happy we did not “forget about her this year” since we reached out to our previous scholarship recipients to renew their applications.

To her we say, we could never forget an ambitious, thoughtful, and caring student like you. On the contrary, students like you make everything we do worthwhile. So we say “thank you” to you, Malak, for being who you are and giving the opportunity to be part of your journey.

And thank you to all of you who contribute to this project so we are able to offer scholarships to more than 100 students each year.

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Sajd studying at home
Sajd studying at home

Your donations to provide scholarships for Palestinian students make a real, lasting impact on the lives of dozens of students each year. We want you to hear directly from one of the 140 students who are receiving a scholarship this year to study at the university:

Sajd was born in 2001 in Rafah in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. She has five brothers and her dad is a retired worker who has a passion for languages. She is a sophomore currently studying Software Engineering at Information Engineering and Technology Faculty at Al-Azhar University.

She explains “My learning journey of software started when I was young and my brother always told me about the importance of mathematics and software in our life and how they will have a big impact on the future.

“I find my study of software a kind of joy mixed with effort, especially after the outbreak of the corona pandemic as it affected the learning strategies in many institutions including my university. The university, which I still remember its halls and corridors when I walked out of it after finishing the first semester of my first year.

"The first year is considered the most important for students, as they learn all about college life. However, Covid-19 changed everything, for example, all lectures are given online so we cannot interact with the lecturers and classmates, and we cannot ask the questions we want to ask when we do not understand. We ended up spending long periods in front of the computer screens to finish our classes and projects. Online teaching is stressful. On top of the all causes of stress is the frequent cutting electricity during the lectures.”

Sajd does not have her own laptop but managed to need to organize her schedule with her brothers to watch her lectures and complete her coursework. She told us “I love my major very much and I hope to be a shining star in this field in the future for my parents to be proud.”

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From Bethlehem University Graduation
From Bethlehem University Graduation

We’ve hit a milestone this year with the Scholarships Program, we were able to provide 140 scholarships for students in Gaza and the West Bank! To be more specific, 103 female students and 37 male students. 

The scholarships program with MECA aims to provide partial scholarships to Palestinian students from the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip to study at Palestinian universities. Even though good academic performance is important, it is not the only term to get accepted into the scholarship program. We also focus on their characters, aspirations for the future, hopes and dreams, personal and collective challenges they’re facing, future goals and plans … etc. As we know that grades are not everything, and they’re not the sole measure of success and achievement. 

I remember going through the applications of 18-year olds thinking “Wow! How eloquent these students are, well-spoken, focused, and goal oriented.” Lots of the students who apply are youngsters who had to deal with home demolitions, loss of a parent or even two, or having to be separated from one of their parents due to residency issues. Some had to work extremely hard to cover some of their expenses, since their parents couldn’t come up with all the tuition fees. And with every application I read, I realize how amazingly courageous and determined these kids are.

I keep thinking of how far these children would go if they didn’t have all these already existing obstacles; if they didn’t have to worry about their universities’ fees and whether their parents would be able to support them, if they didn’t have to calculate how much transportation would cost since some of them have to cross the minimum of two Israeli checkpoints to get to their universities making some students even choose universities that are closer to their homes rather than their dream universities in order to save money and expenses for their transportation and accommodation, how some would have to spend hours working in their universities computer labs because they do not have their own laptops for instance, and now with the covid-19 lockdown it is impossible and it hinders their studying. 

I would not be exaggerating if I said that each and every one of those students who apply are beyond strong, ambitious, and empathetic with a huge sense of responsibility. The students that receive MECA scholarships are beyond grateful and thrilled to have been granted these scholarships. 

“I’ve witnessed my mother’s tears of joy and appreciation more than one time when she saw how I didn’t have to carry the financial burden of getting an education and was lucky enough to only focus my studies, which gave me the opportunity to excel.”

Maya , 2019 nursing school graduate

In my humble opinion, there are lots of important projects and initiatives that MECA is currently working on, but this program in particular should be a priority. 

I do believe that with the generous support of MECA’s supporters and donors we’ll be able to reach our goal of becoming a full scholarship program and reach more and more students. This is not a favor we’re doing, it’s rather a responsibility that falls on our shoulders to help young Palestinians reach their full potential. We cannot fix the capitalist systems we’re living within at once, but we do know that this world is full of kind people with a sense of responsibility that have the ability to inflict positive change in the world. Supporting such a program will support this cycle of kindness and hope, one student at a time. One fulfilled dream at a time. 

 

Hope is a good thing, let’s keep it on living.

Maya, one of our students, officially a Nurse
Maya, one of our students, officially a Nurse
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Omar graduated with a degree in medicine!
Omar graduated with a degree in medicine!

We are thrilled to announce that we have awarded scholarships to 113 Palestinian students studying at nine different universities across the West Bank and Gaza. These students have demonstrated a passion for education and a commitment to give back to their communities. Thank you for supporting this project and enabling these ambitious students to continue their studies.

We also wanted to share updates from two recent graduates of MECA's scholarship project.

Arwa graduated last summer with a degree in English language from Hebron University. She is now putting her skills to work teaching English to children at a center in her hometown of Hebron. She says "Thank you a million times for all you support and efforts which helped me to be where I am today."

And just a few days ago, Omar graduated with a degree in medicine from Al-Azhar University. We'll be following up with him on his next steps but are so proud of the graduates of our scholarship project. Wafaa El-Derawi, MECA's Gaza Projects Assistant, who attended the graduation ceremony says "It was a very great and emotional moment when I heard the names of the graduating students from MECA's scholarship project. The happiness of the students and their families made me feel that this moment was worth the tiring work throughout the year. Really these moments energize me and make me see that our work is very useful and appreciated by everyone. Thanks a lot from me, Omar, and all the MECA scholarship students."

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Organization Information

Middle East Children's Alliance

Location: Berkeley, CA - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @MECAforPeace
Project Leader:
Josie Shields-Stromsness
Berkeley, CA United States
$15,984 raised of $20,000 goal
 
340 donations
$4,016 to go
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