Jacob’s story

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WUSC and U of R “light at the end of the tunnel”

Jacob Panchol
Contributor

My name is Jacob Panchol and I am 22 years old. I came to the University of Regina in August of this year under the WUSC Refugee program. I am originally from Sudan but lived in Kenya for 18 years before coming to Canada. While in Kenya I was living in the Kakuma refugee camp. I was able to get an education in the camp starting in pre-school and continuing up to high school. The living conditions in the camp were not good, there were poor health care facilities, lack of adequate security with the host community often looting refugees at night, and a lack of adequate food and water. Some students would go to school with an empty stomach when their food that was rationed for 15 days was finished. Apart from that, the heat during the day in Kakuma was intense and often unbearable with the scorching sun mixed with dusty winds.

I hope that this is not the very first time that you have heard about Kakuma and if it is, then imagine living in such conditions and you will definitely accept what it meant for someone like me to come to Canada and more importantly secure admission to the University of Regina. I personally take it as a once in a lifetime opportunity. While in the camp, my dreams of getting any higher education were crushed since there was no university in the camp. My hopes were revived when I found out about the WUSC refugee program and I began to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Securing sponsorship through WUSC is a little bit of a nightmare for most of the students in the refugee camps. This is because it is very competitive and there are only 25 successful applicants selected out of over 100 applicants. This doesn’t mean that those who don’t make it through do not have the potential, they do, but each year there are not enough spots to take all of the applicants. I wish that the number sponsored each year would be increased to at least 30 to open the doors for other students. 

Although I miss my family members, it doesn’t matter because what matters most now is that I do well in all of my university courses. Being in university has guaranteed me three things – I will overcome poverty when I graduate, I will no longer be ignorant and I will no longer be illiterate. These three things are the cause of pain being experienced in much of the world and the best way to win the battle against them is simply through education.

I credit WUSC for improving who I am and contributing to who I will become. I am now in my preliminary courses for my major in engineering.

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