Meet some of our Masters' students!

Students making real differences and changes to their community

The effects of the resources and dedication that the families experience through DEEP and Al Fakhoora’s work, ripples outwards to bring extremely valuable resources to Gaza.

By educating individuals, the labour force participation of beseiged Gaza rises, and with specialized study undertaken, employment opportunities arise alongside earning capacities. Despite the program’s short running history, Dynamic Futures is already producing incredible success stories; serving as a great reminder of the independence, power and fulfillment that education brings to young individuals.

Laila Barhoum

Laila graduated with a BA in Technology and Education in 2005 from Al-Aqsa University, Gaza, and lives in Rafah, which is south of the Gaza strip.

Upon leaving university in 2006, she became a technology teacher in a preparatory school set up by the United Nations before becoming a special tutor for bereaved children who had lost one or both parents during the attacks on Gaza.

In more developed and stable societies, dealing with bereavement is intensely lonely and difficult for children, but in Gaza, children face terrible poverty alongside the trauma of losing guardians and parents. Luckily, young people like Laila, are totally dedicated to supporting these children, and any single parents who struggle with loneliness and financial responsibilities in the wake of the death of a partner.

Laila began actively looking for a scholarship for Palestinians to allow her to study poverty and development, and found Al Fakhoora’s scholarship program. The assessment process then began and Laila proved herself the most experienced and academically able among the other strong and talented candidates.

The idea of crossing the border and experiencing the world outside of Gaza is a dream come true for Laila. For every person living in occupied Palestine, exiting the occupied region is a difficult and time-consuming challenge.

“I am excited to go to the UK, but I am even more excited to finish my course and come back to Gaza with everything that I’ve learned,” says Laila.

Rania Al-Najjar

Rania is a 25-year-old from Deir Al-Balah, central Gaza, who is the lucky recipient of one of the ten Masters’ qualifications provided by Al Fakhoora!

Following a BA in English Literature and Education from the Islamic University of Gaza her high level of spoken English proved incredibly valuable during the various attacks on Gaza. Since she graduated in 2008 Rania has worked within the teaching and translation jobs before progressing to relief and development charity, ‘Islamic Relief’.

Latterly, she has worked with orphaned children, and developed an understanding of the vital importance in finding ways of encouraging communication with traumatised children. Rania’s dedication to the struggling members of her Palestinian community evolved into her acting as an advocate for the most vulnerable households around her, appealing for support from others.

September 2011 will see Rania arriving at City University in London, to begin a Masters’ course in International Communication and Development, thanks to the Al Fakhoora scholarship programme. With the cost of the course and the lack of any comparative course in Gaza, Rania will make the daunting journey from Gaza to London to study a subject that will bring untold value back to her home country.

We are all looking forward to watching Rania’s studies evolve and seeing the benefit of the teaching that she will share with her colleagues at Islamic Relief upon her return.

Good luck Rania!

Nuha Bashir

29-year-old Nuha first achieved an undergraduate degree in English Literature before joining the Mercy Corps as a Monitoring and Evaluation Officer in 2007. Her expertise lies in consultancy and development initiatives and she has experience of working with Gaza farmers under ‘Care International’.

Nuha was thrilled to find herself accepted into the University of Pavia in Italy to study International Cooperation and Development thanks to the scholarship program run by Al Fakhoora.

The obliterated infrastructure that Gaza currently lives in, is a constant motivator for Nuha to pursue her dreams contributing to her community. Her particular focus lies in early recovery, as opposed to further development of damaged communities.

She’s looking forward to studying with a diverse range of participants and returning to her home with a deep understanding of how the communities around her can operate better.

As is often echoed by Nuha’s fellow scholars, the scholarship as an Arabic-funded program, lends pride and a great feeling of solidarity to the experience for these young people as they travel away from their homes, and into new cultures, meeting new people and discovering new places.

“I am ready for this opportunity, but will be keen to get back to Gaza at the end. I hope this degree will help me to share my knowledge with others and help to build my community for the better,” says Nuha, as she prepares to leave for Pavia.

Mohammad Sisalem

24-year-old Mohammed had very specific challenges in mind when he searched for further study. His BA in civil engineering from the Islamic University took him into ‘Coastal Municipalities Water Utility’, as a trainee.

Rather than identifying existing social and economic problems, Mohammed is aware of a terrible problem that could unfold over the next few years without an effective remedy. Due to the occupation of Gaza, which oversees the access that occupied Palestine has to water, there are concerns for the low supply. A combination of low amounts of rain in recent years and an increasing population, along with seawater intruding into the water means that sufficient amounts of safe water are difficult to supply to Gaza.
Mohammed predicts the security restraints on Gaza’s water supply only becoming worse over the next few years, and is desperate to find alternatives and solutions to what could become a catastrophic situation.
Mohammed will begin, thanks to Al Fakhoora, a Masters degree in Water Security and International Development at East Anglia University in the UK; learning everything he can to take home with him at the close of his study, before the population, agriculture and health becomes obliterated in occupied Gaza.

Mona Faraht

Mona is a single mother with a baby girl and is embarking on the challenge of completing her higher education at the age of 25 at the Arab Community College in Rafah. She has to balance her minimal finances, support her parents and four brothers in whatever way she can and also ensure that she continues to parent her daughter well.

Al Fakhoora met Mona through the UN’s work with her family’s struggling fishing business and now studies ‘Business Administration’. When our teams first met the Faraht family they were surviving on $100 per month shared between the eight family members. Nowadays, they can expect up to $600 a month in busy seasons, thanks to the provision of new and more effective fishing nets.
Mona is a prime example of Al Fakhoora’s work unearthing all kinds of opportunities for young people in Gaza, no matter what their history of education or personal situation. Despite trying numerous times to sustain further education, Mona has struggled to continue as a result of financial restraints during and after her divorce.
“I am determined to finish my further education with a full degree, thanks to Al Fakhoora. It’s for my daughter; her future is my future”.

Zuhdi Osama Elifranji

ZuhdiZuhdi studies medicine at the Islamic University of Gaza (IUG) and is 20 years old. Before Fakhoora found him, Zuhdi says he had no hopes for his future, seeing only a future of difficulty and disappointment for himself.

 Zuhdi’s life these days is completely different, and he now plans on gaining further medical qualifications to go on to specialise in cardiac surgery in Gaza.
“On the Dynamic Futures’ empowerment program I have learned lots of things, improved my skills and communicated with people I hadn't talked to before. From learning about ‘civic engagement’ on the empowerment program, I now know more about building relationships with people in my community and internationally”, says Zuhdi.
“I really like the communication it’s given me with international students. Now, I’m more excited about the future and for the first time I realise that I have a real talents and good skills. And I can’t tell you how much my friends in the Dynamic futures program mean to me.”
For Zuhdi’s family, this is a great opportunity for a more comfortable and less stressful life. Without Al Fakhoora paying the fees for Zuhdi’s medical course, Zuhdi’s father could only have afforded for his older brother to attend university.
The moment he discovered he was to be accepted onto the Dynamic futures program, Zuhdi remembers the most incredible and amazing feeling before complete disbelief from his family! The moment he signed the scholarship acceptance form will stay with him forever.

Yasmeen Al-Malalha

19-year-old Yasmeen Al-Malalha is one of a family of nine. Before Al Fakhoora found Yasmeen, she and her family were living in abject poverty in the slums area of Rafah in south Gaza. In the programs’ infancy, the focus was on the sustainability and independence of family businesses, and in this case, the DEEP program oversaw the rejuvenation of their family’s sheep breeding business with a grant that enabled them to improve their living conditions and their livelihood.

As the 12-month cycle of support for the Al-Malalha family came to a close the scholarship program came into being. It was then that Yasmeen’s academic ambition and talent became evident and her deepest hopes for a university education were about to be realised, as she was offered a grant to study in the faculty of education at Al-Aqsa university for a four-year degree.

“The scholarship gave new hope to me. I was about to lose hope that I would ever get to go to University,” says Yasmeen, who studies History with Education. “When my family received the sheep we had a party, we thought it was a blessing from Allah that we could go on to have dignified lives”