Shireena Al Nowais
Manal and her family fled the violence that has torn Syria apart.
Now she faces another battle; to provide a university education for her son.
She escaped the conflict and her family now live in Sharjah but struggle to get by, with she, her husband and daughter all working in low paying jobs, earning as little as Dh3,000 per month each.
Adnan, 19, was the best performing pupil in his class, scoring 97 per cent in his finals, but the family cannot even come close to affording the estimated Dh100,000 per year for a medical degree.
“We came on a visit visa and for three years my husband was unemployed,” Manal, 37, said of their arrival in the UAE five years ago.
The family lived off donations from charitable organisations and three of their four children, aged 22,15 and 10 could not go to school.
“We couldn't afford to send all of them to school,” she said.
The only child who managed to complete his education was Adnan.
“He is the only person who can support us and his sisters in the future, which is why we all did our utmost so he could go to school,” she
“His marks were always above 90. Even when we had just arrived in Syria and were going through so many hardships, Adnan always focused on his studies. We are all counting on him.”
Adnan's hard work earned him a scholarship, but it only covers half of the tuition fees, and the family have to come up with the rest.
Manal’s husband earns Dh3,000 working in a supermarket. She provides home-cooked meals for families and looks after other people’s children to get by. Their eldest daughter, who couldn't afford to continue her education, works at an English language centre where she also earns Dh3,000 per month.
“If not for the support from my daughter’s job, we wouldn't have been able to survive or to put Adnan through school. She willingly decided to find a job so she can help us and her brother," she said.
“Our only hope for a better life for the girls is Adnan. We have gone through so much to come here and put him through school."
Hisham Al Zahrani, manager of Zakat and Social Services at Dar Al Ber Society, said: “The family were denied a full scholarship for their son who they believe is their only hope for a better future. Adnan has also worked so hard to get into medical school. He’s earned the grades and would be unfortunate for it all to go to waste because he can not afford the fees. We hope that with your donations we can help put him through medical school.”