By Peter Balleis, S.J.
Northern Iraq, 2016
Two young ladies, Amina and her friend, are refugees from Syria living in a camp called Domiz near Dohuk in northern Iraq. They were present in early June 2016, when I introduced the project Jesuit Worldwide Learning – Higher Education at the Margins (JWL). Back then the young people made it clear to us that we should not only come back to take photos and collect data, but that we should come back to start an online education program. Both Amina and her friend are now students of the English language courses that started on December 12th. More than 150 young people (over 50% women) have enrolled at the Domiz Camp learning center for the one-year English language course.
In the Khanke Camp, where Yezidian internal refugees live, nearly 100 language students have signed up for the English courses. In the Domiz Camp, the courses are held in the container classrooms provided by UNHCR and the camp’s administration. When I first proposed the idea of bringing the education program to the camps, the initial expectation was that few students would enroll. Surprisingly, the demand has been much higher than we anticipated. In order to accommodate these deserving students, another classroom will be needed at both the Domiz and Khanke camps.
These English language courses in northern Iraq are financed via JWL by the Leopold Bachmann Foundation. In addition, there are 60 scholarship holders from the Bavarian State Parliament in Domiz. They also support another 20 students for vocational courses and 20 students for the online diploma program. Both of these programs are offered through JWL. There are 6 students who want to study online (see photo below). They will go through the application and approval process soon. They are all young people, whose university studies in Syria were interrupted by war and conflict. Amina is one of them. She and her friend (right), who had studied medicine, are now both in the camp and have had no way to continue their education. In January, JWL’s online diploma program will begin. Students will be able to earn 45 credits in Liberal Arts with concentrations in Business, Education and Social Work. The diploma is awarded by Regis University in Denver, a Jesuit university.