The Mentor Support Network (MSN) has once again shown its dedication to helping young people on their path to academic and career success, launching a program aimed at encouraging refugee students with their educational endeavours.
MSN recently held a scholarship presentation for successful applicants of the Refugee Student Education Program, delivered in partnership with Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation and Northern Settlement Services.
A $30,000 grant from the Newcastle Permanent Charitable Foundation saw 10 students provided with $2,000 for educational resources, $1,000 worth of career development advice and the chance to partake in a 13-week mentoring program.
Mentor Support Network Chair, Jon Chin said he was surprised by the number of applicants.
“We ended up with a sizeable number to choose from and we really felt we could provide a special program that would help them with not only their education, but also career development,” Jon said.
All scholarship recipients had very different backgrounds but shared one thing in common. They had overcome challenges within their lives that most people would never understand. Four recipients were from Syria while two came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The remainder relocated from Afghanistan, Burundi, Liberia and Sudan.
Recipient and Year 12 student, Byiringiro Nkurunziza’s family fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo just before he was born and settled in Uganda. There, they lived in a refugee camp and slept on communal mats on the hard ground.
“All I remember from the camp is that it was hard to get food. My mother was a vegetarian so she made gardens full of fruit and vegetables,” Byiringiro said.
“My dad died when I was very young which meant my older brother had to help my mother provide for us. He was 11 years old just before we left Uganda and his job was a cattle grazier. From even younger than this though, he would trade goods and services including animals for food.”
Byiringiro and his family have been in Australia for six years now and he’s extremely grateful for the opportunity this program has given him. He hopes to put the money towards tutoring, textbooks and maybe a laptop.
Over the past 12 years, MSN has given $473,000 in scholarships to over 200 students.
Established in 2005, Mentor Support Network assists youth development organisations in the Hunter by providing regular networking events, annual forums, scholarship programs and youth mentor training.
IMAGE | Refugee Student Education Program scholarship recipients for 2019.
Formerly known as Hunter Youth Mentoring Collaborative Inc. (HYMC), and established in 2005, Mentor Support Network (MSN) is a not-for-profit organisation that helps disadvantaged students achieve their educational goals.
MSN, in conjunction with volunteers, members and the corporate sector, provide regular networking events, annual forums, scholarship programs and youth mentor training.