Two highly skilled Syrian refugees have been offered a home in Baltimore for the next year, courtesy of Johns Hopkins University.
Officials from the university’s Bloomberg School of Public Health announced today that two Syrian doctors have been chosen to receive full-ride scholarships to enroll in the top-ranked institution’s master’s in public health program. Tuition for the full program runs about $65,500 per student, according to the school’s website.
The recipients are Alfred Tager and Mohammad Darwish, trained doctors originally from Damascus who were both pushed out of their country by the still-worsening civil war that began in March 2011.
Both men issued statements through the Hopkins Hub.
“Although I was unable to prevent many deaths in my country during this war, this scholarship will allow me to learn from public health leaders and use this knowledge to help save lives in my country going forward,” said Tager, who’s currently working as a senior research associate at the Charleston Area Medical Center in West Virginia.
“Saving a patient’s life is every physician’s dream,” said Darwish in part in his statement. “To me, becoming able to save lives on a much larger scale and help raise the health care system from under the rubble again and plan for the well-being of the generations to come is my dream.”
Darwish is presently working with the Palestine Red Crescent Society in Lebanon providing first aid and disaster management training to refugees.
The scholarship money comes from a fund established by the Bloomberg School and Hopkins’ Center for Humanitarian Health this past winter. The goal was to support and educate displaced Syrian health care workers, who could then bring new skills back to their home country to reconstruct its health care system.
Dr. Paul Spiegel, who directs the Center for Humanitarian Health and teacher in Bloomberg School’s Department of International Health, didn’t answer the phone at his office Tuesday, but said in a statement, “We are excited to welcome these two doctors to the school, where they will learn from us and where we will certainly learn a lot from them.”
Tager and Darwish can begin their master’s degree coursework in Baltimore starting this summer.
Nearly five million people have fled Syria since its civil conflict began six years ago, and more than six million others inside the country are displaced, according to the UN Refugee Agency.
Hopkins has taken a strong stance supporting immigrants and refugees this year, particularly since Donald Trump became president. In February, university president Ronald Daniels shared a personal letter with the public that condemned Trump’s since-stayed executive order that tried to block people from seven countries, including Syria, from traveling to the United States.
The university also joined a lawsuit with other top American colleges and universities opposing the travel ban in court, citing its potentially harmful effects on recruitment of international academic and medical talent, among other issues.
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