Azerbaijan International

Spring 1998 (6.1)
Page 8

Reader's Forum
Big Dream - Medical Education

If you are interested in Azerbaijan and the women living there, you may be interested in my story. My name is Halima. I am 21 years old. My family consists of five people-my father, mother, brother and sister. I'm the oldest child in the family. I was born in one of the most beautiful places of Azerbaijan-the Karabakh Kulucha village near Agdam which is located in the central region of my country. Because of the war, my family and I have had to live as refugees in the Turkish refugee camp in Barda for the past three years.

I don't remember much about childhood except for memories about school. For as long as I can remember, I have dreamed of graduating from college with such excellent marks that I could enter medical school.

I know that not every dream can become a reality. This terrible war between Azerbaijan and Armenia not only destroyed my dreams, it shattered the hopes of many young people from both of our countries.

Nevertheless, I decided to present my documents to the medical college selection board and was accepted into the school of midwifery. I was so hopeful. My parents continued living in the camp. They weren't able to eat well or wear warm clothes. They sacrificed and suffered so much just so I could pursue my studies.

Yet, my dreams were even broader than theirs, and after graduating, I wanted to continue on to more advanced studies in medical school. Continuation requires money, however, and I felt powerless.

My parents disagree with this decision. It is a national custom to advise young women to get married, to become mothers and have their own families. Most think that this is the best way of life for girls in a refugee situation. But I disagree. I don't want my deepest feelings to collapse, and to have to live without hope. I feel that I have enough inner confidence to fulfill my dreams.

My friends understand some of my hopes but don't support me very much in my desire to achieve these dreams. Most people around me don't understand. They say, "What do you want, Halima? You have an education, a small job, and you can create a family in the future. Isn't that enough?"

I have been advised to write about my feelings and to hold on to my dreams. I don't know whether I will be able to achieve my dreams, but writing about them is a first step.

I am preparing for the entrance examinations in 1998. In spite of the cost of education, supplies and the concern of my family, I have decided to try to continue. I know I need help from others. But if I can achieve my dreams, I think it will light the candle of hope in the hearts of other refugee girls. We Azerbaijani women have an expression, "Your future depends on your mind." I want a good future for our people.

Turkish Refugee Camp near Barda

Editor: Contact Azerbaijan International if you'd like more information on how to reach Halima.

From Azerbaijan International (6.1) Spring 1998.
© Azerbaijan International 1998. All rights reserved.

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