Mohamed Afser is one of the amazing youths we are supporting for university studies this year. Originally from India, Mohamed and his family fled to Hong Kong 9 years ago. He entered school at the Primary Five level and eventually completed his secondary education at a local high school.
“This experience transformed me that after I graduate high school, I shouldn’t just give up, I should somehow try all my best to enroll in the college even if it’s just for a year.”
Mohamed believed that life begins after high school but he encountered many hurdles in his pursuit for his dream. When he was accepted into college, he approached many organisations for financial assistance with his tuition fees; but was turned down. Due to his status in Hong Kong, his resources were limited.
One fateful email from Mohamed brought Tom, our CEO, in touch with his situation. During this time, Mohamed came to know about our Refugee and Opportunity Development Programme (ROAD). Although ROAD’s assistance did not start until the following year, Mohamed focused on the hope that was restored in him.
True enough, when he shared his encounter with his teachers, they in turn took on the baton to support this hopeful young man with his first year degree tuition fees!
“I thought even if I could just step into college for a year that would still be enough but since I approached right people and had network with right people I got the opportunity to further study in Hong Kong.”
For many that are like Mohamed, the government only provides assistance to the extent of secondary education. Students that desire to further their education face many uncertainties, discouragement and the lack of support from the government.
Mohamed believes that for those who share the same walk as him, he can be their guide and he will use his knowledge to help others.
Mohamed is currently pursuing his second year degree in Professional Accounting. His dedication is evident in the achievements he acquired along the way.
“My education experience in Hong Kong is a mixed one. In the beginning, I struggled with language, discrimination and social exclusion when my family and I first moved to Hong Kong. Over time, with the help of some good people, I was able to overcome some of those struggles. The education in Hong Kong provided more learning opportunities and developed my skills as well. After Form 6, I struggled getting into college. I feel hopeless most of the time.”
Despite facing all the challenges, Mohamed Afser received a full scholarship to university.
“One of my worries is about tuition fee for my 3rd and 4th year. I am afraid that if I am not able to get a higher GPA this semester, I might not be able to continue my scholarship. My other worry is about my internship opportunities. I am afraid that due to my identity, I would not be given the permission to learn during my internship. My biggest concern is being deported back to India before I finish my studies.
I wish to gain knowledge, skills and experience to help me both in my career and in my life. I know this might sound cliché but I want to help people in need with my knowledge and skills; that is my goal.
Providing higher education and employment opportunities to asylum seekers and refugees in Hong Kong would have a variety of benefits that do not simply affect the individual but also have a positive impact on the community. Higher education would equip refugees with the knowledge and skills to contribute to the community as role models and in turn transfer these benefits to their communities through employment in fields that enable them to have a lasting impact upon reconstruction and sustainable development in the refugee community and Hong Kong.”
Photo is used for illustration purpose only.
*Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals