By Nour Qudeimat
Mohamad Zakaria (43), Palestinian originally from Tirat AlKarmel village near occupied Haifa, born in Al-Bass refugee camp in Lebanon, has completed 8 Masters, 3 Bachelors, 1 Doctorate, a Vocational Training degree, and a number of published scholarly researches and articles.
Education as a passport:
Mohamad was born in uneasy living conditions and limited opportunities. He went to an UNRWA school in Lebanon and graduated from the UNRWA Vocational Technical and Training Centre (VTTC) in Al-Bass refugee camp. At 19, he flew to Latvia to receive his first Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate in Mechanical Engineering Faculty with specialization in Medical Engineering and Medical Physics.
Being born in Lebanon where Palestinians are not offered a nationality, ID, passport, job or ownership rights, Mohammed has taken education to be his only passport.
Strangely enough, Mohamad never applied for any passport, but he was able to retain a permanent Swedish residency for his education and work, before becoming a full Swedish citizen in 2012.
Mohamad now lives in Lund city, south Sweden, married and father of a 10-month-old daughter after he received citizenship in 2012. Before all this, he was defined as a Palestinian from Lebanon traveling with a weak document.
“Since I received my PhD in Latvia, I started attempts to settle in a place where I can live dignified. As a Palestinian coming from Lebanon, it was not easy,” Mohamad says.
“Today I carry 13 academic certificates, 8 masters, 3 bachelors, one doctorate and a vocational certificate. I am currently in the process of finalizing my master thesis in political science at the Department of Political Science at Lund University in Sweden. “
The youth researcher aspires to become a decision maker in international organizations, through which he can serve people and his homeland.
Mohamad holds degrees in various fields including engineering, business and economics, physics, technology, medical sciences, social sciences, arts and international relations.
The dream of return:
Despite the privilege and living conditions he now has, Mohamad, like every Palestinian refugee, dreams of returning to his homeland, to not be a stranger or a foreigner.
With his achievement, he awaits an opportunity to develop higher education in Palestine through the knowledge he gained in his educational journey, pointing that “establishing universities which offer higher education, under occupation, alone is an achievement. If we can also develop it, this means more power to resist our occupier.”
Mohamad also believes that he has an important role in enhancing the education quality in Palestine, showing his readiness to serve people and education with all his power.
Education struggles for Palestinians in Lebanon:
As a Palestinian who found his way through education, Mohammed speaks about the struggles and obstacles which Palestinians in Lebanon are facing.
“There are thousands of distinguished and creative Palestinian learners in Lebanon. However, the compelling circumstances, limited resources and high expenses of education prevent them from achieving their dreams and potential.”
On the role of the Palestinian authority towards these people, Mohamad said that ” the PA has the obligation to look after our pupils in the Palestinian camps of Lebanon, to grant more scholarship, to cooperate with the other nations and ask them to grant more scholarships to the intelligent Palestinian pupils from the camps to study abroad.”
Palestinian envoy to the world:
Mohamad’s journey of study allowed him to meet and deal with a majority of diverse backgrounds and nationalities, which gave him the opportunity to be a fine Palestinian envoy. He never ceased to explain the Palestinian cause and recalls on some heated debates on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, in which he maintains his smile, logic and “coolness” to introduce international students to the story of Palestine.
Mohamad’s maxim and message remains; “Trust yourself and never give up.”
In the end, he called on the Arab brethrens to support Palestinians, give them scholarship to continue their studies, support UNRWA and employ the Palestinian qualified people to help achieve their dreams.