Ethiopia: Fourteen refugees graduate from Addis Ababa University
25 July 2009

Refugees from several countries completed their higher education while staying in Ethiopia. (JRS Ethiopia)
“It shows your potential and your competence, which I encourage you to use to serve your home countries."
Addis Ababa, 25 July 2009 Fourteen refugee students graduated from Addis Ababa University after having completed their three years studies in different fields. One of the twelve Sudanese students left the university with a medical doctorate in Health Science after seven years of studying; two students come from Eritrea. 

The graduation was celebrated on 28 July at the JRS Ethiopia Refugee Community Center (RCC) with invited guests from the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative Fund (DAFI), Jesuits and JRS staff.

“This ceremony takes place to show how well refugees, in spite of the numerous challenges and traumas they face, can do,” said RCC project director Mulugeta W/Eyesus in his opening speech. “It shows your potential and your competence, which I encourage you to use to serve your home countries,“ he added while addressing the graduates.

Besides Health Science the graduates’ fields of studies included Educational Planning and Management, English, Philosophy, Biology, History, Earth Science, Sociology and Social Anthropology and Psychology.

A vision to fly

Representatives from UNHCR and DAFI also congratulated the graduates and revealed their plans of forming an association of graduates whose purpose it is to share experiences among graduates, support each other and to provide coordinated support for their countries of origin. Since the Sudanese graduates who faced serious financial and psycho-social challenges during their studies, will return to Southern Sudan soon, DAFI will also provide information on their background to the public and to their government to guarantee they are warmly welcomed. The two Eritrean graduates will probably work in Eritrean refugee camps in northern Ethiopia.

The representative of graduates, Mr. David Kueth from Sudan, expressed his appreciation and gratitude towards UNHCR and DAFI for the opportunity of being trained in a highly esteemed university of the hosting country. He also thanked JRS for offering computer literacy courses and for its psychological and moral support which, he said, was crucial for the refugee students to achieve their goals.

In a closing speech, Fr. Groum Tesfaye, SJ, university chaplain for the Catholic students, told a story by Anthony de Mello SJ, in which a bird grows up among chickens, not recognizing that it has the capability to fly. Referring to that story, he encouraged the graduates to have a dream and a vision of life which they can pursue and which helps them to discover their full potential. Finally, he handed over small gifts for all the graduates and blessed the cake.

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