ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Peshmerge Morad, 28, from the city of Afrin has won the UAF-Award “Standout of the Year,” a prize for talented refugees in the Netherlands who have shown dedication and perseverance.
“I am the standout of the year, I have won,” Morad wrote on his Twitter account after winning the prize, thanking his school, the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (HvA).
“There are very talented refugees: it is not easy to learn the language in the Netherlands as a refugee and to get a job or study,” UAF Director Mardjan Seighali told the Dutch public broadcaster NOS.
With this price, we want to stimulate talented refugees, she added.
Since 1948, the Foundation for Refugee Students (UAF) supports and counsels highly skilled refugees in the Netherlands.
Morad, who was named by his parents after the Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, which roughly translates to “those who face death,” fled from Syria during the early start of the country’s civil war.
He was able to learn Dutch and studied programming and graduated Cum Laude in June from the HvA, one of the largest institutes for higher professional education in the Netherlands. He currently works as a software engineer.
In Aleppo, he studied computer science but had to flee in his third year because of the civil war in Syria. As a result, he had to begin his studies all over again.
However, it was difficult for him to finish his degree due to Turkey’s attack on Afrin, where Morad’s parents are still living, he told the student newspaper HvanA.
“My parent’s situation influenced me a lot. I called the dean, and I was not sure if I would be able to finish my studies. My parents had to flee during the attack and have now returned to the city, which is now occupied by Turkey and jihadis. They are not in danger, but they are not safe either.”
During his study, Morad supported other refugees in the Netherlands, through his volunteer work for the Students That Matter organization.
However, he said the idea of him returning to Syria “is unrealistic.”
“I fled because of Assad, and he is winning the war and controls 50 percent of the country,” Morad stated.
“I miss Syria, but I also feel happy here because I could continue my studies and found a safe place in the Netherlands. Holland also feels like my homeland.”
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany