Reach Education Fund

Three Inspiring Stories Of Palestinian Students: Mommen, Ghada And Duha

War, political conflicts, and poor economic conditions in the West Bank and Gaza have affected the lives of countless Palestinians. Among other things, one sector that is terribly affected is higher education. Due to poverty and lack of finances, many diligent Palestinian students cannot enroll in colleges and universities. They dream of earning degrees in various subjects and building successful careers, but their poor living conditions make it almost impossible to turn those dreams into reality.

However, despite all the hardships and obstacles on their path, some students showcase sheer determination and hard work to realize their dreams and aspirations. They demonstrate all the qualities needed for academic excellence but only lack financial support. And that’s where Reach Education Fund (REF) steps in to support college scholarship for gifted Palestinian students. 

Students who display a positive attitude in the face of difficulties, undying determination, and persistent efforts, combined with the financial support from REF, leads to some truly inspiring stories where Palestinian students achieve great success in higher education against all odds.

While we analyze the tough living conditions of people in the West Bank and Gaza and why many students cannot afford higher education, let us also go through the stories of three extraordinary Palestinian students who achieved praiseworthy accomplishments through perseverance in difficulties.

Rising Poverty Affecting Higher Education in Palestine

Due to the war and political conflict, the Palestinian territories of Gaza and the West Bank have slowly descended into poverty. In addition, frequent acts of violence and clashes in these areas disrupted the normal lives of Palestinian people. On top of that, the blockade enforced on the Gaza Strip has severely affected their economy. The blockade restricts the movement of various goods in Gaza and also cuts them off from the international trade market.

All these factors have led to the rise of poverty, and as per recent statistics, the poverty rate of Palestine stands at 29.2%. Worse yet is that 17% of Palestinians are even below the deep poverty line. Even those families who barely make it above the national poverty line still struggle with making their ends meet.

In addition, unemployment is a major issue in Palestine, with the latest data suggesting the employment rate to be at 26.40%. However, a significant portion of the workforce is made of people working menial jobs at low wages. Comparatively, the number of people who have well-paying jobs is much lower.

Amidst the poverty and unemployment, many families have such a hard time barely affording the basic needs that they cannot pay for their children’s college education. This is the sad reality for a lot of Palestinian youths that are bound by circumstances. They may have to give up on their ambitions due to financial difficulties.

There are students who somehow manage to enroll in universities, but at one point, they too end up unable to pay the tuition fees. As a result, there are many cases of students dropping out of college without completing their course. It was just last year that many students pursuing their Master’s degrees in Gaza dropped out due to financial difficulties.

As per reports, over two-thirds of bachelor’s degree students in 2019 were unable to pay their tuition fees, and so the dropout rates rose to 70% that year, compared to the 40% rate in the previous year. An M.A. student in the Islamic University of Gaza states in the report that due to lack of support and encouragement, higher education seems more like “an accessory, an extra”. It’s heart-wrenching to think that the right to college education feels like a luxury for these poor Palestinian students. Such is the state of higher education in the West Bank and Gaza.

Students Clinging on to Hope Amidst the War and Violence

The conflict between Palestinians and Israelis often takes a violent turn, leading to bombings. The infrastructures and buildings in Gaza end up taking collateral damage. Many schools, colleges, and universities face structural damages due to bombings and rocket attacks. To make things worse, food, construction materials, and many other resources are also limited due to the blockade.

However, even in such desperate circumstances, many students cling to hope and refuse to let go of their dreams and aspirations. They choose to believe that where there is a will, there is a way. And Reach Education Fund wholeheartedly respects and appreciates the hope and strong determination of such students. We feel obligated to assist such students and support Palestinian education. It’s not easy to dream of a bright future when war and violence are all that’s around them, but they remain optimistic and are willing to do all it takes to build their career through university education.

Here are three stories where Palestinian students have fought against their circumstances, and with assistance from REF, managed to achieve impressive academic accomplishments.

 

Mommen Abu Yousef from Gaza’s Refugee Camp – Now Attending the Medical School in Islamic University of Gaza

Mommen Abu Yousef is a young, cheerful, and determined student residing in the Alnusayrat Refugee Camp in Gaza. He lives with his parents and 14 siblings, of whom he is the eldest. Being the eldest brother, he was well aware that it would be his responsibility to be a strong pillar for his family and pave the way for his siblings’ future. However, achieving that goal would be extremely difficult as the reality of living in a refugee camp was completely different.

Despite the hardships, Mommen performed exceptionally well in academics and achieved a GPA of 95.7%. But attending college wouldn’t be easy for him, as his family’s economic condition was not that good. Not to mention there were many mouths to feed. But with support from his family and his own hard work, he dedicated 5 to 6 hours every day just to study for his high school exam. And he decided to push himself further, setting a goal to study 12 to 13 hours per day.

Sticking to such an intense study schedule was very challenging for Mommen, mainly because it was hard for him to find a suitable place where he could study quietly without any disturbance. He’s also a well-organized person. However, his brothers and sisters would often love to play in his room and mess things up. But he did not get annoyed by their innocence and kept studying despite the challenges, hoping that one day he could uplift the status of his whole family.

Realizing Mommen’s hard work and determination, REF awarded him a much-deserved scholarship, and he is now studying Medicine at the Islamic University of Gaza.

In his own words – “This scholarship helped me overcome the hardships and despair I felt and is the only way to continue my dream”.

 

After Experiencing Years of Hardships in Gaza, Ghada Shurrab Dreams of Becoming a Journalist

Ghada Shurrab spends a difficult childhood in Gaza. For fifteen years, as an innocent child, she struggled through each day with a shortage of food, water, medicine, and electricity – the most basic requirements for survival. What’s worse is that growing up, she even had to witness the death of her loved ones. It was a traumatic childhood that she had to endure through her young and innocent years.

However, such events and challenging circumstances did not break her spirit. Quite the opposite, it gave her even more motivation to fight against all odds and make a difference in the world someday. It was this dream that always kept the fire of hope alive in her heart. Life was not easy for her, but she had eyes on a bright future and not on her sad present.

Her will and desire to rise above the poverty and difficulties was so strong that she put in all her effort to study hard, eventually graduating high school with a 98.3% GPA and ranking first in her district. And this was just the beginning. She went on to demonstrate the same excellence in higher studies, achieving 97.8% GPA and once again ranking first in her department in the Islamic University of Gaza. She also dared to get out of Gaza and spend 13 days surviving harsh conditions and various checkpoints to travel from Gaza to the U.S.

Today, she is studying to be a journalist and still holds the same passion and fire in her heart that she did as a child, growing up in a war-ridden and violent atmosphere. Ghada has high ambitions, wishes to make her family proud, and even have a significant positive impact in the world. Considering her hard work and academic excellence, we are hopeful that she will turn out to be a successful journalist and bring about many changes in society through her profession.

With immense gratefulness evident in her eyes, Ghada says, “I wouldn’t be here telling my story without the support of Reach Education Fund.

 

Motivated by Kindness and Compassion, Duha Abu Hmesa Hopes to Raise Her Dad’s Honor

Duha Abu Hmesa was a bright student since her early days, consistently ranking as a top student from first grade. Her dad was a taxi driver who, despite his meager income, did all he could to provide for his family. They didn’t have the best life but still managed to find solace and happiness in simple living. 

However, when Duha was in 12th grade, she felt terribly ill and had a hard time focusing on her studies. To make matters worse, her younger sister and brother also got sick, and it had a big impact on the family’s finances. With great difficulties, her father managed medications for his beloved children. Another challenge for Duha was that the medications made her tired and exhausted, making it very difficult for her to focus on her studies.

But she continued to study diligently despite her health problems. Her dad also supported her wholeheartedly, and it was his desire that his daughter may achieve everything he couldn’t and build a bright future. Her dad’s trust and faith in her motivated Duha to work harder than ever. As a result, she achieved 99% in her high school exams which gave immense joy and excitement to her family and loved ones. But that happiness was short-lived, as they were immediately hit with the subsequent reality – that her family could not afford any college for her higher studies.

But Duha did not accept that her dreams were over. Instead, she started searching for any option that could help her get into a college. Her aspiration was to study Pharmacy so that she could be of help to other sick people. Eventually, she found out about Reach Education Fund and its mission to sponsor Palestinian student’s education. Now realizing that there is still hope for her dreams, she was rejuvenated with newfound motivation and applied for the Reach scholarship. Once again, through her hard work and efforts, she managed to get accepted for the scholarship program.

Now she aims to help other underprivileged students, the same way Reach Education Fund helped her. And she is fully focused on uplifting her family’s status through her efforts, paving the way to a better future for her siblings, and raising her father’s head in honor.

Grateful for being able to pursue her ambitions, Duha says, “Reach Education  is all I have to fulfill my dream and my family’s dream.

Your Contribution Can Help Reach Education Fund To Sponsor Many More Palestine Students In Need

Have you ever wondered how to support Palestinian education? Would you like to make a difference in the lives of brilliant but financially troubled students? If so, then join the mission of Reach Education Fund and help us sponsor a student to attend college in Palestine. REF aims to uplift poverty-stricken students, orphans, and underprivileged individuals to fulfill their dreams of pursuing a university education. We humbly request you to donate for university scholarships to gifted Palestinian students so that together, we can make way for many more inspiring stories like that of Mommen, Ghada, and Duha.