May 5, 2023

A Story of Hope and Commitment: Ahmed's Educational Journey

A story of hope and commitment: Ahmed's educational journey
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Ahmed Jassem, the 26-year-old and father of two, has now completed his banking and finance degree and landed a job! The journey, however, was not effortless for the young Iraqi from Mosul. Ahmed endured minimum-wage jobs, city occupation, and his father's illness with hope and commitment for a better tomorrow.

“A bright day will come…”

The Islamic State began its march towards Iraqi land in June 2014. The 18 year-old Ahmed was about to begin his academic journey when he received the devastating news. “My parents and I lived in stress and discomfort,” the young Iraqi said in an interview. “Uncertainty loomed over us, pondering what the future may hold… Will I ever continue my education or start a family?” Despite the challenging days Ahmed’s city experienced, he never went off course with his hope, saying, “Something always told me that a bright day will come. A better tomorrow.” In December 2017, the Iraqi authorities announced victory over the Islamic State and the liberation of the occupied areas. The residents of Mosul, particularly students who had to put their studies on hold, embarked on a new journey as a result of this development. However, Ahmed’s story took a different turn as fate had yet another challenge stored for him.

“A construction worker by day and a delivery guy at night”

Following the liberation of his city, Ahmed once again began preparing to resume his academic journey. Within the first few months of studying, illness dimmed their house. Ahmed’s family was caught in a challenging situation as his father was bedridden and not able to work. Ahmed’s dedication and love for his family led him to put his education on hold and take on two jobs, working tirelessly day and night to support his household.

“As a construction worker by day and a delivery guy at night,” Ahmed mentioned, “I spent three years of my life trying to provide for my family.” With his father’s passing, the light seemed to dim more and more for Ahmed. However, his devotion and hard work brought yet another turn to his life—a new chance to resume his education.

“Education saved my life.”

After three years and a second pause in his education, Ahmed came across the SPARK scholarship funded by the European Union’s ‘MADAD’ fund. In 2021, Ahmed resumed his education and graduated from the Banking and Finance Institution at the Northern Technical University at the end of 2022. “Education saved my life,” Ahmed told us. “Without the scholarship, I would have still been working two underpaid jobs… Education changed my prospects.” Along with the scholarship, we provided skill development courses that prepare young students for the post-graduation job market, adding yet another turn to Ahmed’s journey.

New skills and a new path

Ahmed’s educational journey is a true story of hope and commitment, leading to a new beginnings in 2023. The young man from Mosul who successfully completed his studies is now a proud husband and father of two children. With this new chapter opening in his life, Ahmed embarked on a search for a new job and a fresh start.

Along with scholarships and skill-development courses, SPARK, with the support of the European Union through the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis, the ‘MADAD’ fund also provided many internships for young Iraqis, including Ahmed. During his internship, Ahmed mentioned to us that “without the English, computer, time management, and other courses, I wouldn’t be able to compete and get job offers.” Following the three-month internship, Ahmed managed to land a job with non-governmental organisations and is now supporting people from Mosul who went through similar struggles to his.

“I used to think that working in the public sector was the only way to secure a job, but not anymore!” Today, I advise young people to seek opportunities in the private sector. That is what our society calls on for a better future.”

The internships are complementary elements to the academic studies. At SPARK, we support students through their education and post-graduation. We enhance the skills of students and set them on the path of building connections and starting their professional careers. By connecting fresh graduates and private sector companies, we broaden their perspectives and shine a light on the possibilities that can be realised outside of the public sector.