A dynamic 28-year-old Syrian with a bright smile, Hiba Al-Masry emanates positivity towards anyone who crosses her path.
The young woman has been putting that optimism to great use, volunteering with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in her local community of Zarqa.
Hiba graduated from Zarqa University thanks to the EU-funded EDU-SYRIA scholarship two years ago, and has since been focusing on supporting fellow Syrian refugees in Jordan. Along with other volunteers at the NRC, she delivers awareness sessions on various topics such as Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and education.
“When the pandemic happened, the NRC provided us with lists of contact information of Syrian refugees in Jordan, so we could reach out to them, check up on their situation and know about the issues they were facing during the pandemic."
Through this outreach, Hiba also provided beneficiaries with information and advice related to COVID-19, giving them the relevant contact numbers of the Ministry of Health, 911 and the Corona hotline.
“It was very important for me to make people understand how serious the situation was, and how seriously they should be taking it. I explained the ways to differentiate between coronavirus and a normal flu and gave advice on how to stay safe by taking precautions.”
However, Hiba was adamant about delivering this information without spreading fear, aware of the precarious and stressful situation of many refugees. “For me, every single talk and discussion I held had a great impact. No matter how small our action is, we need to keep remembering that it helps spread positivity and hope in these difficult times.”
Hiba benefited from the EDU Syria II scholarship funded by the European Union under the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis (EUTF Syria), the EU Madad Fund.
EDU-SYRIA is a host of projects that chronologically extended over the last five years and still going, 2015 and further. The projects are EU funded via MADAD in response to the Syrian crises. Hence, the primary beneficiaries are Syrian refugee and underprivileged Jordanian youths. The ultimate objective of the projects is to improve the livelihood of those beneficiaries by providing them with higher education opportunities through a cluster of scholarships that are granted every cohort of high school graduate since 2015.
EDU-SYRIA I was launched in late 2015 where a fund of 4 million Euros supported a total of 390 higher education accredited degree, master’s, bachelor’s, and vocational programs. Another EUTF grant was bequeathed, 11 million Euros, inaugurating EDU-SYRIA II, the second wave of the project, October 2016. The project was the largest in Jordan in terms of the number of the higher education degree scholarships that was awarded, specifically, 1000. The EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis program presented a smaller endowment of 2.6 million Euros in January 2019 allowing for additional 200 higher education degree scholarships. EDU-SYRIA III was launched in January 2020 with a fund of 15 million Euros. The components/actions of the last wave were more diversified in nature and design where some aiming to pick up the young adults who dropped out or leaked out of school. The direct total of beneficiaries is 2245 Syrian refugees and underprivileged Jordanians.
EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis
Since its establishment in December 2014, a significant share of the EU’s non-humanitarian aid for Syria’s neighbouring countries is provided through the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis, the EU ‘Madad’ Fund. The Trust Fund brings a more coherent and integrated EU aid response to the crisis and primarily addresses economic, educational, protection, social, and health needs of refugees from Syria in neighbouring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, and supports overstretched local communities and their administrations.