“I do not face discrimination due to my Christian faith at my workplace” – Hungary Helps scholarship-holder Randi Jamal talks to S4C.News


In the second episode of our series of interviews with the Hungary Helps Scholarship holders, we talked with the Iraqi Randi Jamal. In the framework of the scholarship program, Randi studied at the University of Debrecen, Hungary. Now, he is back in Iraq, where he works as an assistant at Duhok University, and he also works as a social worker at New Hope Trauma Centre.

When and how did you hear about the scholarship program?

I heard about the scholarship in 2017 and applied in March 2018. I discovered the program through the priest of our church. I decided to submit my application, aiming to progress my studies. It seemed like an excellent opportunity to study at a western university.

Before studying in Hungary, I had not heard much about the country. But Hungary was the first country to launch such a program for persecuted Christians. They had other similar programs before, so I knew what to expect. Recently, Iraqi people know more about Hungary than beforehand due to its aid programs, particularly in the Nineveh Plain.

I went to the University of Debrecen because it was the only university that offered a scholarship in the area that I was interested in. I studied to become a social worker.

What experience did you have in Hungary?

I spent almost two years in Hungary. During this time, I gained a masters degree in social work in healthcare. I also got to know a lot about Hungarian culture and how people live in Hungary. This knowledge I can use in my work; I teach sociocultural anthropology at the University of Duhok.

For example, I learnt from the Hungarian culture the strange taste of some food and a variety of pastries we don’t have in Iraq. Some of the Hungarians have a good sense of hospitality which made me feel at home. In general, the people were kind to me.

Back in Iraq, where have you been working since returning from the scholarship program?

I used to work at New Hope Trauma Center, where I was working with children, teenagers, and adults. We provided a wide range of psychosocial support programs to address people’s psychosocial needs, especially after returning from being displaced for three years due to the attack of the Islamic State in 2014. I was working in Batnaya, a small Christian town, which was destroyed.

Unfortunately, I do not have time to work at the trauma centre because of my job at the University of Duhok, where last year I got employed. I am lucky, because my working conditions are good, except for long working hours. I do not face any kind of discrimination due to my Christian faith.

How is the quality of life, and how does the healthcare system function in your country?

Unfortunately, the healthcare system in Iraq is not that good, and it lacks many facilities and infrastructures. There is nothing called health insurance in Iraq, and even if you had heard about it, it would be either only on paper or at private companies. The public sector lacks essential services for the patients. Most people tend to go to private hospitals, which are extremely expensive. Many people complain about healthcare in Hungary, but we visited the hospitals and other healthcare centres there, and they cannot be compared to those in Iraq.

In Iraq, we need an efficient and reliable healthcare system. Many people die due to shortages in the public and private health sectors.

In the following weeks, we will share interviews with Hungary Helps Scholarship-holders. In the next episode, we will talk with a young Christian girl from Palestina, Jane Allawi. You can read our previous episode here.

Ildikó Ungvári

Photo: Randi Jamal

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