Kiron Open Higher Education is a nonprofit organization whose goal is to provide refugees with the opportunity to get higher education. Kiron is a grantee of Project Reconnect, an initiative from NetHope and Google.org that provided 25,000 Chromebooks to nonprofits supporting refugees in Germany. Kiron makes the laptops from Project Reconnect available to students in local study centers or as loaner devices.
We are pleased to feature several Kiron student stories over the next few days, including this first one from Mohammed, who told his story to Kiron's Flora Celine Roenneberg.
"My name is Mohammed. I am a refugee from Damascus, Syria,” he says softly.
Now, Mohammed studies Business Administration with Kiron. He came to Germany in 2015. Back in Syria he studied science and had his own business, selling medicine material. “It was a good job and a good business, I even came to Germany for a business trip once.”
In posture Mohammed seems tall, however his eyes seem shy. “It was like a dream back then. But I don’t think about the past. It is too hard.” He explains: “As a refugee you have to forget about everything that was before. I cannot think about the past, I have to create a new life now!”
In his voice lies sadness and hope at the same time: “I focus on my studies and learn German! First, I came to Dortmund to live there for one year, then I came to Berlin. My family, my wife and children joined me here three months ago. My son is eight years old now and my daughter is four; they both go to school and kindergarten in Lichtenberg (a district in Berlin). My wife studies biology here at the Free University of Berlin. We are very lucky!” Mohammed smiles: “I really like my studies with Kiron. Coursera is fantastic. I enjoy online learning very much. Kiron gave me a laptop sponsored by Project Reconnect. You don’t have to go anywhere – you can learn from everywhere at any time!
"At the moment, I am able to take marketing and language courses. And one day, who knows - I would love to transfer to a university and earn a certificate! It would be so great if I could be accepted here in Berlin. My vision for the future is to start my own business one day, like back in Syria. I would like to use my experience and what I did before to create my future. And I want to learn from the Germans, how they work and how they think. They are really good at tech … Germany is number one!” Admiration vibrates in his voice. “And the people here are so friendly… but it is hard to find friends.” Mohammed sighs. “Some people are fantastic, some are not. Like everywhere in the world. I have to learn more about the German culture. Now I feel like a guest - but maybe someday I will feel at home. Without the language, it is very hard. That´s why I am trying my best to learn German.”
Mohammed’s look seems less shy now. “I really like Berlin. My favorite place is the History Museum in Berlin. I believe that every stone in Berlin has a story. My story is a different one. I came a long way from Damascus to Germany. But my story is not set in stone yet - I am studying with Kiron now and I am hoping to build a brighter future!"
If this story inspires you and you would like to invest in NetHope’s work supporting refugees like Mohammed and his family, we welcome your donation.