Sitra was raised by a mother who knew the power and privileges of a good education. In addition to raising her daughter after having fled Iran, she pursued an MA degree in an Australian University whilst moving from temp job to temp job to support her daughter. Sitra grew up watching a ‘Supermum’ defy all odds in the pursuit of knowledge. Sitra knew that she too was destined for the same path.

Luckily for Sitra, Soroptimist Hornsby in partnership with Project Humanity, was able to support her to pursue her final years of high school with an annual scholarship of $1000 along with practical care and support with teh challenges of being an asylum seeker. There was great joy when the news came through that Sitra had finished the HSC with an ATAR of 97, bringing her so close to her dreams of becoming a doctor.

When asked why she wanted to study medicine, Sitra stated that it is “so that I can give back to the community.”

Batool and Fatima fled Afghanistan with their family to build a new life in Syria as a result of constant bomb blasts and the persistent threat of harm from a nation steeped in civil war. What they could never have imagined is that the destruction and despair of war would follow them to Syria which soon fell into chaos and anarchy following the Arab Spring in 2011.

In a remarkable twist of fate, they found themselves having to pick up their lives and start all over again but this time only the two sisters and their brother could make it safely to Australia as their parents and younger brother were trapped in immigration detention in Europe and they lost contact for a very long time. Despite the challenges and the tragedy of finding their mother sick in hospital after 15 months, Batool and Fatima made a decision that would change their lives forever. The sisters decided to devote themselves to their studies in order to honor their mother and to make a positive future for themselves but it would come at a price. Their brother would sacrifice his chance at an education and stable future to financially and practically support the dreams of his sisters as they pursued the HSC as mature age students at Bankstown Senior College.

The relief and joy were overwhelming when they both graduated with an ATAR above 87 and successfully gained entry into their dream program: Medical Science at Western Sydney University.

However this good news is bittersweet. Sitra, Batool and Fatima are all asylum seekers and are awaiting the assessment of their claims for refugee status in Australia. Under current Australian laws, asylum seekers are allowed to work but are unable to access government education subsidies and are therefore treated as international students. Unfortunately for these three aspiring women, they must pay significant international student fees if they wish to pursue their studies at university.

There are many asylum seekers who like Sitra, Batool and Fatima have studied hard and are desperate to make a positive contribution to the Australian community. Project Humanity is collecting funds to support their continued education and you can help by making a tax deductible gift to HOST’s Project Humanity.