Proyecto Habesha welcomes Syrian students to Mexico
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Proyecto Habesha welcomes Syrian students to Mexico

The project may be modest in scale when considered against the vast need, but the organizers of Mexico’s Proyecto Habesha (Habesha Project) are doing their part to alleviate the Syrian refugee crisis. We spoke with Luis Sámano via email about the project just as it welcomed its first Syrian student to Mexico.

Latin Correspondent:
When was Proyecto Habesha founded, and for what purpose?

Luis Sámano:
Two years ago, we began working with the intention of bringing 30 Syrian students (to Mexico) whose studies had been interrupted so that they could continue their studies in Mexico. The intention is that they return to their country to participate in its reconstruction, using what they’ve learned in Mexico.

LC:
Who are the founders, and how did they become interested in the current situation in Syria?

Sámano:
To operate the project we set up a civil organization called Diálogo Intercultural de México Activo (DIMA) (Intercultural Dialogue of an Active Mexico), in which Javier Góngora, Rodrigo Soto, Gabriel Dominguez, Agustín Hernandez Berea, Tomás Sarmiento, Estefanía Álvarez, Adrián Meléndez, who is the general coordinator of the project, and myself are a part.

The idea was born out of experiences Adrían had in refugee camps in the Middle East while working for the International Organization for Migration.

LC:
The Proyecto Habesha website indicates that one of the organization’s goals is to bring 30 Syrian students to Mexico so they can receive a university education. How are the students selected?

Sámano:
They are referred by international organizations that work in refugee camps. It’s important to mention that they don’t come to Mexico (classified) as refugees, but rather with a student visa.

LC:
How is the project funded?

Sámano:
With donations that have been made through our website by people who have decided to support the project.

LC:
What kinds of support are being provided to the students apart from the university education?

Sámano:
The project provides them assistance with paperwork and visa documents, air and ground transportation, lodging, full scholarships to prestigious schools, and medical insurance.

LC:
How long will the students stay in Mexico?

Sámano:
Until they complete their studies.

LC:
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in realizing the goals of the project?

Sámano:
The project requires significant logistics, with constant contact not only with the students, but also with various stakeholders in the Middle East.

LC:
How many students are in Mexico at the moment?

Sámano:
At the moment, Essa Hassan is the only student who has arrived, but we have selected the rest of the students who will be coming.

LC:
Which universities will the students be attending?

Sámano:
The Panamerican University (Aguascalientes campus) is the primary seat of the project and the Iberoamerican University has just offered 10 full scholarships.

LC:
Where will the students live?

Sámano:
Some will live in Aguascalientes and others in Mexico City, but we want to expand the project to other states in the country.

To learn more about Habesha Project, visit the website in English or Spanish. There is also an Arabic language version of the site.

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