Mexico has a long and historic tradition of welcoming refugees from all over the world and unlike its closest neighbor to the north, it is still living true to that tradition.

As a gesture of support to reinforce the international community’s confidence in Mexico’s advocacy for peace, the country welcomes Syrian refugee students through its “Project Habesha“.

Project Habesha is a humanitarian initiative with the main goal of welcoming 30 Syrian students to Mexico for the purpose of providing them with a college education.

Welcoming Syrian students also provides Mexico with the opportunity of promoting intercultural dialogue as an inspiration for development and creating an atmosphere of understanding and sympathy within Mexican society.

Habesha has already brought 10 students to Mexico.

With the support of private universities and organizations, these students will receive a full scholarship as well as medical insurance and a monthly allowance for their personal expenses.

Last week, after a long flight and a rigorous selection process, Silva Namo and Jackdar Mohammed arrived to Mexico City.

“Thanks to Habesha, we have hope again and something real for the future,” Mohammed said, two days after arriving to Mexico City. “Habesha has helped us and, just as Habesha has helped us, I want to help countries that are in war. There is nothing impossible.”

Since 2011, millions of people have fled from the country as a direct result of the conflict in Syria and its neighbouring regions.

This has led to the greatest humanitarian crisis in decades.

Namo, a 22 year old student from the Syrian province of Malikiyah, reflected in an interview with RISE NEWS how the war in her homeland has affected her life.

“In the beginning, it was really difficult to live in refugee camps,” Namo said. “We were forced into another way of life with people we didn´t know. You lose everything. You lose direction and you don’t know what you’re going to do with your future; you walk around without thinking or knowing what the next step is.”

Jackdar Mohammed (L) and Silva Namo (R) are two Syrian students a Mexican organization is helping go to college. Photo Credit: Jimena Pacheli/ RISE NEWS

In only two days after Namo and Mohammed’s arrival in Mexico, they said that they felt big and positive changes in their lives after experiencing Mexico’s culture.

“A big change for me is the food,” Mohammed said. “In two days I have eaten a lot of things. The food is really good and spicy. I like it.”

Before attending college in Mexico, Namo, Mohammed and the other Syrian students will spend six months studying Spanish in the state of Aguascalientes.

“This is our chance to learn and to do as much as we can to be stronger and provide something in the future,” Namo said.

Mohammed’s studies were interrupted due to the increasing violence and development of the war in the Syrian capital, Damascus.

Today, he looks forward to starting his economy degree again.

“[The] Economy can help me and my country,” Mohammed about the field he is interested in pursuing. “It can have a great impact in Syria’s future. [The] Economy will be needed for rebuilding the country, creating factories and jobs and working on development.”

Namo’s goal is to make an impact not only in Mexican communities, but also in Syrian communities too.

To achieve this, she will study Business Administration.

“Everything is developing so quickly. Syria will need technology and development,” she told RISE NEWS.

For Namo and Mohammed, coming to Mexico is not only a personal achievement.

They plan to use their studies to aid Syria in its uncertain future.

“Syria needs us,” Mohammed said. “We are the generation that has a chance to complete their studies outside of the country. That’s the people Syria needs right now for its future. We, as students, are the hope for Syria’s future.”

It’s part of Mohammed and Namo’s goal to return to Syria.

Read More: Meet Daniela Núñez, The 23 Year Old Mexican Who Wants To Change The Way We Bury People

“This education is not just for me, it’s for all Syrians,” Mohammed said, “I want to learn and have new experiences so I can go back and transmit it to those who may not have a chance to complete their studies.”

Project Habesha is providing Syrian youth with an opportunity to receive a college education.

Mexico is providing these Syrians with a place to call home.

“It’s an amazing feeling to come into these people who are really nice and friendly,”  Namo said. “People have welcomed us and have let us know that this can be our home too. I’m away from my country but I feel safe and I feel at peace.”

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

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Jimena Pacheli is anything but a stereotype. She's a Mexican but has a British accent. An avid reader, history enthusiast, and tea drinker, Pacheco lives in Mexico City where she is finishing up her studies. She also studied at The University of Scranton in Pennsylvania where she was a student leader on campus.

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