Born in Syria, Aya is the eldest of five siblings and Dalal is the second eldest. The family arrived in Australia in 2018 after spending seven years in a refugee camp in Kurdistan in the northern region of Iraq. They began their life in Australia in Newcastle with the support of services including Settlement Services International (SSI), Northern Settlement Services (NSI) and Wesley Mission.
Aya’s dream is to become a human rights lawyer. While the family were living in the refugee camp in Iraq, Aya became involved in Pathfinders, where she spent much of her time teaching other young children in the camp about the mission to empower people to live with hope and equal opportunity to achieve their potential. Aya also taught English and provided translation services for others in the refugee community.
Dalal’s dream is to become a pharmacist. She used to spend a lot of time at her uncle’s pharmacy in Syria when she was younger, watching him go about his business and it was there, that she began to think about a career in pharmacy.
In 2019, the girls were both attending Callaghan College in Waratah, however they were struggling to keep up with school assignments as their 11 year old sister Gulcheen has significant health issues as well as Spina Bifida and spent 9 months in a Sydney hospital with their mother while she received treatment, including dialysis and ultimately a kidney transplant. While their mother and sister were away, Aya was responsible for all of the cooking, cleaning and caring for their father and other siblings. She became the ‘go to person’ for her family as she speaks the most fluent English and regularly advocates for her parents.
Aya and Dalal were referred to the Grow a Star program in mid-2019 by Wesley Mission to assist them with their schooling. Aya was granted a $2,000.00 Beyond Bank Grow a Star Scholarship, which she has used to purchase a laptop, uniforms, PPE clothing for electives, books and stationery. Dalal was also sponsored by Grow a Star to purchase her school uniforms, books and stationery.
Aya and Dalal love attending school here in Australia despite the challenges associated with still learning the English language.
Aya is very focused on university and she’s carefully selecting subjects to ensure she obtains an ATAR score that will see her being accepted to study law.
The sisters are determined to find their independence in this new country, with Aya set to gain her provisional driver’s licence in a few months and Dalal applying for her learners in a few weeks, significant challenges, given their short time in Australia.
With the support of Grow a Star, Aya and Dalal are on track to realise their dreams.