Help Gabriel pursue his dreams

My name is Gabriel Duran, I am 27 and I am from El Salvador. It is a small country in Central America, which for many years has been affected by major problems like underdevelopment and violence. Living there was a source of stress during many years because of the constant fear of something happening to me or my family. This is one of the main reasons why I chose to leave the country, in search of better life opportunities. I'm currently in Amsterdam trying to complete my studies in the Master of Cognitive Neuropsychology at the VU Amsterdam.

My bachelor in El Salvador was in Psychology. I chose it because I am a very curious person and to me the human brain was the most fascinating topic to explore. I love understanding how people behave and the reasons underlying social interactions; studying people's struggles and mental disorders means creating tools to promote a healthier society. While studying psychology, I was inspired by a committed professor and decided that my dream was being a Neuropsychologist. By understanding the complexity of the brain and the disruption of its processes, I will contribute to fundamental research in the field of mental illness/health. I believe mental health to be one of the core instances of modern society and I am motivated to give my contribution to the development of new knowledge in the field.

Moved by my desire to know more about the brain, I took part in the teaching staff during my time at the bachelor as a Professor’s assistant. I did this for different courses (such as Introduction to Psychology, Psychology of learning, Experimental psychology and Abnormal behaviour psychology) during the last 3 years of my 5 year program. This was a very good experience not only to help students on courses I had already gone through, but also to consolidate the knowledge I acquired during those years.

Everything turned favourable to me when I managed to get admitted to the Master Program I wanted to participate in the most: Research Master in Cognitive Neuropsychology, at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. This was over one year ago. During the last year in my home country, with a lot of effort, me and my family managed to get a loan so I could pursue my studies in Neuropsychology. Something that, staying there, I could not have accomplished.

El Salvador mostly offered me poverty, violence, and death. During the last 25 years, the situation of precariousness and insecurity to which Salvadoreans have been subjected, on a daily basis, has led to many professionals to seek opportunities outside the country to provide their families with a more dignified lifestyle. I am one of these people. It is also very important for me to finish my studies, because I really want to help my family with the large debt that we have due to the loan we got for in order to send me abroad. When I left the country for this study opportunity, I found myself in the privileged position.  I can pursue what I want to do the most in my life and help my mother and father have an easier time in the country for the upcoming years, while contributing to the field of mental health.

So, what is the problem? With the loan we took, I managed to pay the fee of the first year and most of my living expenses (food and rent), but it is not enough to cover all the expenses for my second year in the Master (which ascends to Є14,600, because I’m not an European student) and we can’t afford another loan. Furthermore, the Coronavirus crisis along with the health issues my parents have gone through recently, have considerably cut our financial stability. My mother suffered from Peritonitis at the beginning of this year and she had to undergo surgery to remove the exploded appendix and cleanse the organs that were infected due to this. My father was diagnosed at the end of last year with prostate cancer. The cancer has metastasized to the bones and he is currently going through chemotherapy treatment.

I have attempted to find a job here in the Netherlands as well, to help me with the expenses, but due to the Coronavirus pandemic, on top of the fact I’m not an European citizen, has made it extremely difficult to find a job. Even with a job, I would not be able to afford the totality of the expenses for next year, such as keeping my home (which costs Є377 per month), having enough food  (which takes approximately Є90-100 per month) and paying the fees of my second year (which is, just like the first year, Є14,600). As of right now I can keep paying for my expenses until December, but I'll struggle with it from January on wards. Nevertheless, I strongly intend to keep trying to find a job.

It is due to all of these difficulties, that I can’t make it alone anymore. Many of these circumstances can’t be helped (such as the global crisis caused by the COVID19 or the illnesses that my parents have gone [and are going] through), but I am trying my best to push through it all. This is why I turned to you for help. If i manage to get some funding through this GoFundMe method, I will be able to go back to study, finish my Master program, pursue my dream job, contribute to the field of mental health and also help my family with the economic difficulties that arise in the future.

I am extremely and forever grateful to anybody who can support me on this quest for completing my studies, helping my family and the field of mental health. Not only through donations, but also through sharing my story with people you know (either your front page on Facebook or any other social media you have), you are doing a great contribution and I really really appreciate it. Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to read my story. I hope you have a nice day!52480048_1605704914201050_r.jpeg


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Gabriel Duran 
Amsterdam Oud West, NL
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