Cairo’s story


“I love my job so much. I feel we are really contributing. Education is what makes people strong.”

Cairo was only seven years old when his family were forced to flee their home in the Democratic Republic of Congo when war and later armed forces began attacking people in the area. One day, an announcement in the refugee camp where he lived announced a new fully-funded scholarship – a golden opportunity to cover the full cost of attending university. Now, as a graduate of a UNHCR Refugee Scholarship, Cairo works as a teacher and is part of a generation of young refugees inspiring us all.

Life was really difficult. We had schools in the camp but studying was not easy. After completing secondary school, we felt we had no chance to go to university. It was too expensive. One evening – I will never forget this day, it was a Thursday – I came home from work and was told that the scholarship announcement had been posted in the camp. The deadline was the next day! So I collected all my application documents as well as some money for transportation and went to UNHCR's office. I submitted my application and went back to the camp. I waited for a week and got a call from the National University of Rwanda. I was admitted!” 
“I had this dream of studying at university but had never really considered it seriously, because our means, as refugees, were very little. So we gathered with the other DAFI recipients and left the camp together to go to the Southern Province, where the campus is located. When we arrived at the university, we met many other students.” 
“At university, I felt very fine, very supported, and very confident. The fees were paid for and we were also getting an allowance. I could pay for my accommodation, food, the education material, etc. My basic needs were covered. I no longer had the same challenges as before. Of course, I had to adapt to the university environment and study hard. Sometimes I would get up in the middle of the night to study! I was making a lot of efforts and going the extra mile to make sure that the scholarship was not misused.” 
“I finally graduated in 2012 and immediately got recruited as an English teacher.” 
“This scholarship made a very big difference for me. With the scholarship, I acquired key knowledge and skills. Thanks to the scholarship, I got empowered and got the chance to empower others. I was transformed. I received all the tools I need to play my part. I need to stand strong in this world and will not stop having high goals and dreams!”