Walaa’s ambition and determination are contagious. Like many other young Syrians stranded in the Bekaa Valley, she thrives to see her community prosper and longs for the Civil War to end. She uses her spare time to help other people in the same situation, and is determined to do everything she can to be an active, positive member of society.
“I volunteer in an organisation in Taanayel, in Beqaa. I support them by teaching kids, distributing medicines and food aid in camps. I also translate for foreign humanitarians working and distributing general aid in the camp”
When not volunteering, translating or helping out her fellow Syrians, Walaa can be found at Omar Mukhtar institute in Bekaa, where she studies Computer Science. Walaa fell in love with programming when she was young. She taught herself how to code from tutorials online and was able to follow her passion for IT by applying for a scholarship through the SPARK and Al Fakhoora Global Dynamic Futures scholarship programme. 2018 marks the first year of Walaa’s studies in Lebanon, after she arrived over 4 years ago, so she is pleased for the opportunity to finally continue her education.
Walaa Hamadeh is among the 4,600 young people awarded a SPARK/Al Fakhoora scholarship for higher education as part of the Global Dynamic Futures programme that began in 2015.
Originally from Al-Zabadani, a town in Syria near Damascus, which became the site of a battle in 2015 between the Syrian Army, Hezbollah and rebels. Fighting forced almost everyone to relocate, Walaa left her home when she was just 14. The strength and positivity that Walaa shows is admirable. She would not be in Lebanon if it wasn’t for the conflict and likes to think that her stay, and that of all Syrian refugees, can be peaceful and with reciprocal respect with the hosting community.
“We are not enemies, we ask only for safety… we did not come to harm anyone or to impact negatively the economy…we are all brothers and sisters, we love Lebanese people and respect them, and we ask them only to respect us too.”
Before applying to the scholarship, Walaa was working for Human Wire and volunteering for Salam, an NGO, but her financial situation worsened over time and she had to stop in order to take full-time, paid employment. She could not afford the expenses for her education but looking back now that she sits in a sunlit classroom, her determination for education never went away.
“Education makes you be curious, makes you want to know more about the world. Getting an education in Computer Science has given me hope in the future; I was looking for an opportunity like this… I was able to complete my education, to achieve my dreams, thanks to the scholarship programme of Al Fakhoora and SPARK.”
When asked what her prospects are after graduating, Walaa thinks about her daughter, her family and her country. She dreams of establishing a company that helps unemployed youth find work, and to live a better life and overcome the tragedy of the war.
Walaa symbolises the motivated generations of Syrians that do not stop believing that a prosperous life can be achieved peacefully and with respect to others. We’re proud to be part of their paths towards their goals.