Help A Refugee Finish Med School

Dear International Medical Community,

My friend Mohammed Abu Srour needs your help to complete his path in medicine. Mohammed grew up in Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, West Bank. He has continuously proven to be one of the brightest students in his class, wherever that class may be, but his dreams cost money -- something hard to come by in the West Bank, where Palestinians suffer under a crushing occupation and dismal economy, among a myriad of other obstacles.

In 2016 Mohammed was honored by Havana University of Medical Science with the Best International Graduate Award out of 124 international students who graduated that year.

Today, Mohammed has a chance to go to the United States to complete an observership in Pediatric Medicine, the field he wishes to specialize in. After he completes his three month observership in the U.S., Mohammed plans to return to Cuba where he will work as a volunteer General Practitioner doctor for the first two years, in order for the Cuban government to award him a full-ride four year scholarship to complete his speciality. Mohammed obtained a U.S. visa and he was approved for both programs in the U.S. and Cuba, but all of these plans cost quite a bit of money. While he is full of potential and drive, he lacks the funds for travel and living costs. This is where you can help.

There are surely thousands of medical students that could use financial assistance, but let me tell you what makes Mohammed exceptional.

Mohammed was eight years old when the Second Palestinian Intifada broke out. Living in a refugee camp, the heart of most of the violence that takes place in Palestine, Mohammed experienced things no child should, but by the end of the Intifada in 2005, he was showing so much promise in his studies that he was moved from the United Nations schools he grew up in to a private Christian school in Bethlehem. The change was jarring. His classmates came from rich higher class families that, like in most of the world, were able to buy relative security -- something he didn't know much about. Being an outsider only pushed him harder, he excelled in the private school and graduated top of his class.

After high school, his final exam grades were so outstanding he had his pick of universities and programs to attend. He chose medicine, but the programs offered in the West Bank were not ideal. Being a young Muslim refugee without financial stability, realistic opportunities were limited, but he was accepted into the Havana University of Medical Science on a full-ride scholarship. Mohammed took the chance and at 17 years old, speaking only Arabic and intermediate English, he traveled halfway across the world and started Spanish language school.

Within four months Mohammed learned Spanish and immediately started his medical studies in at the Havana University of Medical Science. During his language program he became involved in the Arab Student delegation, taking only a few months to become Coordinator of the delegation for Arab Students. He was also chosen as the President of the General Union of Palestinian Students in Cuba and he was the Head of the Student Council Residency Advisors. He was very involved in Palestinian solidarity projects during his time in Cuba as well, organizing plays, Dabka performances and giving speeches both on behalf of medical students and Palestinians at various events, well documented online.  

By graduation in 2016 Mohammed was awarded top of his class among international students as well as top of his class among Arab students.

Mohammed is an accredited General Practitioner in Cuba, but when he returned to Palestine last year he was required to do a one year internship in the West Bank. While he studied medicine in Spanish, the programs in Palestine are coordinated in English. Still, he flourished and became the Head of Interns in the program. He is now studying to take his final exams (in English) in order to be an accredited General Practitioner in Palestine.

Today, Mohammed dreams of being a Pediatric Specialist, and wants to someday work with Doctors Without Borders, in order to have the chance to help some of the most vulnerable areas of the world. In the distant future Mohammed hopes to help revolutionize the failing medical system in Palestine. To complete these plans he needs to keep moving forward, taking any opportunity he can to better himself so he can one day give back to his community.

If you could help with any small donation you would be helping create a better future not just for Mohammed, but all those lives he is bound to change in the future.

EDIT: GoFundMe has asked that I give a clear explanation of how I know the beneficiary and how I intend to deliver the donations.

I am a Palestinian American journalist, Mohammed is a friend of mine from our community in Bethlehem, where Aida Refugee Camp is located and has worked from time to time as my translator over the past year during his internship. I plan to deliver the donations directly to him by bank transfer or by hand. It was my idea to set up the fundraiser, but as a a Palestinian citizen, Mohammed could not set up the page himself, as per the rules of GoFundMe.


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Sheren Khalel 
Pinellas Park, FL
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