UNHCR - Turkey scholarship lets star Syrian student pursue dentistry dream

Since she arrived in Turkey six years ago, Syrian refugee Sidra has mastered a new language, worked in a factory to support her family and graduated top of her year in high school.

Her breakthrough came when she won a university scholarship. She is now in her second year of a dentistry degree, and fulfilling a life-long dream

“I am very passionate about education,” said the 21-year-old, who fled war-ravaged Aleppo with her family in 2013. “My dream was to go to university, and I studied very hard to achieve this dream.”

Her achievement reflects a single-minded determination to continue her education, even when it seemed she might not get the chance. She missed her final year of high school in Aleppo when fighting forced the closure of local schools, and when she first arrived in Turkey, she lacked the paperwork needed to enroll.

“The day I went back to school was beautiful.”

Unable to study, she took a full-time job packaging goods in a medical supplies factory while teaching herself Turkish in her time off from books and YouTube videos. A year later, when she secured the refugee documentation needed to resume her education, she vowed to make the most of it.

“The day I went back to school was beautiful,” she said. “The worst thing about war is that it destroys children’s futures,” she continued. “If children don’t continue their education, they won’t be able to give back to society.”

After graduating from high school top of her class with an overall mark of 98 per cent, Sidra then went one better to score 99 per cent in her university entrance exams. The results helped her to secure a vital scholarship from the Presidency for Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB).

While tuition fees at Turkish state universities have been waived for Syrian students, the scholarship provides Sidra with monthly support, enabling her to concentrate on her studies. Without this support she says she would not have been able to study her preferred subject of dentistry due to the extra cost of buying equipment such as cosmetic teeth to practice her skills.

Sidra practices her dentistry skills at home while her younger sister Isra looks on. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez
Sidra attends a practical lesson at Istanbul University, where she is studying dentistry. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez
Sidra stands outside her home in Canda Sok on the outskirts of Istanbul. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez
Sidra spends time with a friend on the historical Galata Bridge in Istanbul. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez
Once a week, Sidra teaches classical Arabic to Malak, an 8-year-old Turkish girl, at her home in Istanbul. © UNHCR/Diego Ibarra Sánchez

“Without the scholarship, I would have had to choose a different major, different to dentistry, and to work to cover my university expenses,” she explained.

Sidra is one of around 33,000 Syrian refugee students currently attending university in Turkey. The country is host to 3.68 million registered Syrian refugees, making it the largest refugee hosting country in the world.

Since the beginning of the Syria crisis, YTB has provided 5,341 scholarships to Syrian university students, while a further 2,284 have received scholarships from humanitarian partners. This includes more than 820 scholarships provided by UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency – under its DAFI programme.

Access to education is crucial to the self-reliance of refugees. It is also central to the development of the communities that have welcomed them, and the prosperity of their own countries once conditions are in place to allow them to return home.

Enrolment rates in education among refugees currently lag far behind the global average, and the gap increases with age. At secondary school level, only 24 per cent of refugee children are currently enrolled compared with 84 per cent of children globally, with the figure dropping to just 3 per cent in higher education compared with a worldwide average of 37 per cent.

In Turkey, this average has been raised to close to 6 per cent thanks to the priority attached to education, including higher education for refugees.

Efforts to boost access and funding for refugees in quality education will be one of the topics of discussion at the Global Refugee Forum, a high-level event to be held in Geneva from 17-18 December.

Turkey is a co-convenor of the event, which will bring together governments, international organizations, local authorities, civil society, the private sector, host community members and refugees themselves. The event will look at ways of easing the burden of hosting refugees on local communities, boosting refugee self-help and reliance, and increasing opportunities for resettlement.

“Successful people can support the country they’re living in.”

Sidra is convinced that education holds the key to her own future success, and is determined to live up to the nickname she has earned among her fellow students.

“People call me ‘çalışkan kız’ which means: ‘the girl who studies a lot’,” she explained. “With education we can fight war, unemployment and illiteracy. With education we can reach all our goals in life.”

“Successful people can support the country they’re living in,” she continued. “Turkey has given me a lot of facilities, and it honors me that one day I can give back to its people and be an active member [of society], to work and practice dentistry with their support. I take pride in this.”

This content was originally published here.

Michael Moore: US Pays More for Health Care, Doesn’t Call It a Tax

We continue our interview with Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore about election 2020 and some of the major issues for voters. Long before Medicare for All became a rallying cry in the Democratic Party, Moore’s 2007 film “Sicko” diagnosed the shortcomings of the for-profit American healthcare system and called for a system of universal healthcare. “The real question never gets asked. They always want to pin them on how much is it going to cost in taxes,” Moore says of debate moderators who ask whether Democratic presidential candidates will raise taxes to pay for Medicare for All.

TRANSCRIPT

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, as we spend the hour with the acclaimed filmmaker Michael Moore, who joined us in our New York studio just before Christmas. I interviewed him with Democracy Now!‘s Nermeen Shaikh. We asked him about one of the major issues of concern in this country, in 2020 and overall, and that’s healthcare, a topic Michael Moore tackled in his 2007 documentary Sicko.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We got an issue in America: Too many good docs are getting out of business; too many OB-GYNs aren’t able to practice their — their love with women all across this country.

NARRATOR: When Michael Moore decided to make a movie on the healthcare industry, top-level executives were on the defensive. What were they hiding?

SECURITY: That’s not on, right?

MICHAEL MOORE: No.

SECURITY: OK.

LEE EINER: The intent is to maximize profits.

MICHAEL MOORE: You denied more people healthcare, you got a bonus?

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: When you don’t spend money on somebody, it’s a savings to the company.

PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON: I want America to have the finest healthcare in the world.

MICHAEL MOORE: Four healthcare lobbyists for every member of Congress. Here’s what it costs to buy these men and this woman, this guy, and this guy. And the United States slipped to 37 in healthcare around the world — just slightly ahead of Slovenia.

LINDA PEENO: I denied a man a necessary operation and thus caused his death. This secured my reputation, and it ensured my continued advancement in the healthcare field.

NARRATOR: In the world’s richest country…

MARY MORNIN: I work three jobs.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: You work three jobs?

MARY MORNIN: Yes.

PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Uniquely American, isn’t it? I mean, that is fantastic.

NARRATOR: Laughter isn’t the best medicine.

LAURA BURNHAM: I get a bill from my insurance company telling me that the ambulance ride wasn’t pre-approved. I don’t know when I was supposed to pre-approve it. After I gained consciousness in the car? Before I got in the ambulance?

NARRATOR: It’s the only medicine.

MICHAEL MOORE: There was actually one place on American soil that had free universal healthcare.

Which way to Guantánamo Bay?

GOV’T OFFICIAL: Detainees representing a threat to our national security are given access to top-notch medical facilities.

MICHAEL MOORE: Permission to enter. I have three 9/11 rescue workers. They just want some medical attention — the same kind that the evildoers are getting. Hello?

AMY GOODMAN: So, that was Sicko — right? — 2007, talking about healthcare in this country. I wanted to turn right now to the debate moderators, the news personalities on television, framing the question of healthcare as a question of “Will you increase our taxes?”

MARC LACEY: You have not specified how you’re going to pay for the most expensive plan, Medicare for All. Will you raise taxes on the middle class for pay — to pay for it, yes or no?

MARTHA MacCALLUM: It will drive up taxes to pay for healthcare. And not just the wealthy will pay for that, the middle class will also pay for it.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS: Look, OK, very good.

KRISTEN WELKER: What do you say to voters who are worried that your position on Medicare for All could cost you critical votes in the general election?

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Sanders has been candid about the fact that middle-class taxes are going to go up and most of private insurance is going to be eliminated. Will you make that same admission?

AMY GOODMAN: So, that’s some of the questions debate moderators and news personalities — sometimes you might call them journalists — are asking of the presidential candidates when it comes to Medicare for All: “Are you going to increase taxes?” Talk about the framing of that.

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, these questions are asked by these moderators who work for news organizations that are owned by large conglomerates who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. So, the real question never gets asked in terms of — it’s all, yes, they always want to pin them on how much is it going to cost in taxes.

And the answer to that is, well, actually, we pay more taxes than any country on Earth, more than the Scandinavians, more than the French. And people: “What do you mean by that? No, we don’t. You can look at their tax rate and our tax rate.” And I say, “No, it’s because we lie. We don’t call — what they get for their taxes, we don’t call it a tax here. We call it tuition. We call it copayment. We call it, I mean, daycare, daycare fees.” You know, in France, in Norway, countries like that, they get those things for free or nearly free, because they pay taxes for it, and everybody gets it. If you’re qualified to go to the Sorbonne in Paris, you go there for free. You know, you pay for your books in France. Daycare in France is about a dollar, $2 — if you make a lot of money, you’ve got to pay $2 an hour for your daycare of your kids.

If you take the average of what people spend just on daycare, what you spend a week — let’s say you’re paying a couple hundred dollars a week in daycare, probably more for some people. Let’s say your college debt you’re paying off is a couple hundred dollars a month. Let’s say that during the year, through copays and deductibles — well, I know what that number is. The average American pays about $6,000 between things that aren’t covered or they have to pay part of their premium, copay, deductible. Add all that up, the $200 a month for the daycare and the $200 a month for the college. So that’s — you know, per year, it’s $2,500 for each of those, then now you’re at $5,000. Six thousand for the healthcare. Each American is paying about $11,000 that you don’t pay if you’re French or Spanish or Swedish. Yet we don’t call it a tax. We have all these other fake names for it. They just get this stuff, and they get a good version of it.

I mean, I got — when we were making this film, I don’t know, I came down — I had the flu or something or whatever. It was the middle of the night. I didn’t feel good. Our French producer said, “Oh, just get the doctor to come over.” I said, “It’s like 2 in the morning.” “Eh, no problem.” I said, “What? You mean doctors here make house calls?” He goes, “Yes. We will have to pay $50 when he or she gets here.” But if you’re French, you can turn that in and get the $50 reimbursed. So, at 2 in the morning, I had a doctor arrive where I was staying, and check me out and make sure the fever was OK, whatever. And they gave him 50 bucks. And I’m not going to get the 50 bucks back because I’m not French. But I couldn’t believe it.

And one of the women I interviewed, American ex-pats that live there, she said to me, “The reason we don’t have this stuff in the U.S. and the reason they have it here in France is because in France the government is afraid of the people. In the U.S., the people are afraid of the government.” And as long as you’re afraid of the government, as long as you’re afraid of losing your job — “I can’t lose my job. I need the benefits.” Nobody in France ever says, “I need the benefits.” The benefits are already there. It’s a human right. So you want to quit your job? You want to stand up? You want to start a strike? You want to try to unionize someplace that isn’t unionized? You’re not going to lose your job. And if you do —

AMY GOODMAN: You want to have mass protests in the streets all over France?

MICHAEL MOORE: Do it. Do it. And you will not lose your healthcare. You won’t. Your kids can still go to daycare. Your parents that are in the old age home, they’re taken care of. None of that’s coming out of your pocket. Wow! Think of the freedom, the absolute freedom, if you didn’t have to worry about how to pay for these things, and how much extra time you would have to get politically involved.

Our system is set up so you are struggling from paycheck to paycheck, where you don’t know what’s going to happen next. You’re constantly on the edge of “What if I lose my job?” What if you lose your job in France? The government will take care of you to find a new one. It’s like, “How do they have the money to do that? They must be taxing people!” Yes, they tax people, but they also — what’s their — their military, their GDP percentage, I don’t know what it is, but I am certain it’s in the single digits. Not this country. How much of your taxes go to some form of the military or homeland security? I’m sure it’s over 50% at this point. So, that’s how we choose to spend our money. What if we chose to spend it on the people? How much better it would be.

AMY GOODMAN: Michael Moore, I want to thank you for being with us, Academy Award-winning filmmaker, his most recent documentary, Fahrenheit 11/9. His other films include Michael Moore in TrumpLand, Fahrenheit 9/11, Bowling for Columbine, Sicko, Capitalism: A Love Story, Where to Invade Next

MICHAEL MOORE: Oh, that’s a good one. I like that one.

AMY GOODMAN: Last week, Michael Moore witnessed the historic impeachment vote from the front row of the gallery, and he has just launched a new project, a podcast. It’s supposed to be weekly. It’s called Rumble with Michael Moore. But you’re doing it daily, Michael?

MICHAEL MOORE: Well, I’m just doing it through the holidays, mostly every day, just because I’ve never done this before. I mean, you had a radio show like forever, so you’re very used to this. I’m a filmmaker. So, I started last — a week ago, last Tuesday. And I am going to do it until New Year’s, pretty much on a daily basis. Yesterday, I did one from my dentist chair. I had this dental work done. I asked — the dentist is a very political dentist. I always talk to him about politics. I asked him, “Would you mind if I just recorded this?” So, you get both of us talking about Trump and Murdoch, and also you hear him drilling my two teeth. So, I know it will feel a little painful to have to listen to that drill. Nothing is more painful than what we’ve had to go through the last three years.

AMY GOODMAN: Filmmaker and activist Michael Moore, his most recent documentary, 11/9. He won an Academy Award for his film Bowling for Columbine. Michael Moore has just launched a new project, a podcast called Rumble with Michael Moore. We’ll talk more with him in the coming days about another major topic of this election: guns and gun control and war. That does it for today’s show.

This content was originally published here.