Displaced Students Pursue Their Dreams in Colombia and Ecuador

By Beverly Goldberg


Displaced Students Pursue Their Dreams in Colombia and Ecuador

Arelis* poses beside her desk and with her textbooks. (Daniela Pérez Obando/ACNUR)

Arelis Hernández* is currently studying for a degree in social communication in Quito, Ecuador. Hernández is one of the 145 displaced students that have received a scholarship to complete their university studies with the support of HIAS, DAFI and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Colombia and Ecuador.

“When I started my degree in social communication, I loved it! I found myself suddenly interested in so many things like writing, photography, marketing, and investigative journalism. Now I can’t imagine myself doing anything else,” said Hernández.

“Doing what I like was what helped me to see this country as my new home, so I couldn’t be more sincerely grateful for the opportunity to study and to soon get a job in something that I’m passionate about.”

Since 2004, the program has provided study grants to students in Colombia and Ecuador from displaced or refugee communities. The program also provides students with psychological support during their studies to teach them stress reduction techniques, as well as with cash and voucher assistance (CVA) to cover their basic needs.

“The young people who participate in the program are able to reduce access gaps to higher education, while increasing their professional and social skills,” said Katia Landin, program manager for HIAS Ecuador. “They are also able to integrate into their new host communities.”

Watch the video below (in Spanish) to learn more:

*Participant names have been changed to protect their identity.

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