Today marks World Refugee Day, an international day designated by the United Nations in recognition of refugees around the globe and their resilience in rebuilding lives in new countries.
Through collaboration with the International, Immigrant, and Refugee Student Services (IIRSS), The University of Winnipeg is sharing the stories of three refugee students — Rachelle Kabuha, Ajang Deng, and Damhat Zagros — who have overcome obstacles and excelled as members of the UWinnipeg and Manitoban Community.
I got placed by the WUSC to begin school at The University of Winnipeg. I love my experience here, it is a multicultural community that makes me feel at home.
Living with her family in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kabuha’s parents decided their family would leave their home country in an effort to escape the political instability and violence experienced by millions.
They fled to Uganda where they waited until they gained the opportunity to start new lives in Canada in 2015. Kabuha began high school and graduated with a four-year scholarship to UWinnipeg, where she’s chosen to study International Development Studies and Criminal Justice, with a minor in Conflict Resolution.
“I chose this field of study because I have a passion to help people in need,” said Kabuha. “I can learn about the different political, social, and natural crises, and how I can intervene in helping vulnerable people.”
With these degrees, Kabuha hopes to become a lawyer, so she can help people who are in similar situations.
After fleeing Sudan during the South Sudan Civil War in 2013 as a young boy, Deng travelled to the neighbouring country of Uganda where he claimed refugee status. Looking to rebuild his life, Deng worked hard in his studies and was granted a sponsorship from the World University Service of Canada (WUSC) to study at UWinnipeg.
“I got placed by the WUSC to begin school at The University of Winnipeg. I love my experience here, it is a multicultural community that makes me feel at home,” said Deng “I am proud to be a UWinnipeg student.”
Completing a Bachelor of Science, Deng hopes to become a doctor one day, paying the support he received from Canadian refugee organizations forward.
“I have always wanted to become a doctor. But after receiving help from Canadian refugee organizations, I have a passion to help and grow a community that did so much for me.”
Growing up in Syria with his family, Zagros experienced the hardships of the Syrian Civil War, which forced his family to relocate to Lebanon in 2011. While there, he experienced discrimination for his Kurdish-Syrian identity, leading him to claim refugee status with the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). With this support, Zagros and his family travelled to Winnipeg where he learned English and began his new life.
“I started from zero. I thought that people in Canada spoke Canadian and not English,” Zagros said lightly. “I took English language courses for a year and a half and then adult high school, all of which helped me towards my dream of graduating university.”
Today, Zagros is completing a Bachelor of Arts in Human Rights and hopes to become a lawyer to help other refugees who are in the same situation as he once was.
Each individual shares their story to shed a light on the situation refugees go through across the globe each day. With support from the IIRSS, UWinnipeg has been able to host refugee students, helping them transition into Canadian society and achieve their full potential as students and people. Visit the Immigrant and Refugee Support Services webpage for more information about how UWinnipeg supports refugee students.