Norchan Hamo Slifi

Engineering Student, Kurdistan/Iraq

Norchan, 20, from Syria, is defying the odds and pursing her dream of becoming an engineer.

In 2013, she was forced to flee her country, Syria, by foot. She and her father trekked to Iraq to rejoin her mother and sisters. She had been preparing to take her final high school exams but her education was stopped short in Iraq.  

When she arrived, things were not easy. Their situation was burdened by a lack of money and Norchan needed to find work to help support her family, rather than continuing her studies.

As a young woman in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Norchan did not feel safe working late into the evenings. The social stigma, language barrier and some people’s negative perception of Syrians were often challenging. So after 5 months, she’d earned just enough money to finance the first term at the Koya University fees to study Engineering in Erbil.

“Education is the key to everything that we need, it makes us open-minded persons and it helps to create our own view of the world rather than being just followers”, she said. 

However, without a job she struggled to keep on top of payments for her university fees. The scholarship she received from SPARK was able to remove these stresses, so that she could focus on studying, integrating and dealing with the traumas of the conflict. “It was the greatest feeling I’ve ever felt. I cannot describe how much this organisation has helped us and without SPARK we would now be home doing nothing. The scholarship helped me to be a new person”.

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