Ghadeer Khwies is a twenty-year old nursing student at the Hebrew University. Growing up, her family life was far from stable. Her parents divorced when she was young, and her grandparents were violent and unsupportive when Ghadeer’s mother turned to them for help. In rapid succession, Ghadeer found herself living in a shelter for battered women, transitional housing, and with her mother’s new husband. Shortly after the birth of her brother, her mother divorced again.
Supporting three children on her own, Ghadeer’s mother began working two jobs. The burden was overwhelming, and she sank into depression. Her temper, moods, and behavior were uncontrollable, and she even attempted taking her own life. She decided to send her kids away; Ghadeer (7) and her brother (3) were sent into foster care.
Ghadeer never stopped hoping her mother would return. But when she turned 18, the court asked whether she would like to remain with her foster family. Ghadeer consented.
Ghadeer wanted to study, but her foster parents couldn’t provide financial support. She worked for a few months to save money before moving to Jerusalem to start school. Donors have provided generous support that has enabled Ghadeer to focus solely on her studies.
"Before receiving notice of my scholarship, I was worried about paying for school, dorms, and living expenses. Now I feel so much stronger and am very thankful."
Ghadeer decided to study nursing because she wants to help people. Specifically, she’d like to work in the maternity ward, helping women from all walks of life. Her mother would often speak of her hardships and difficult pregnancies. Ghadeer herself feels that she grew up deprived of tender and loving care, she hopes to offer this to her patients, helping them have a better hospital stay and recovery.
Everything about the University was new and exciting. She made friends, enjoyed studying, and finished the first semester with high grades. Then Coronavirus struck. Classes have moved online, and their first clinical experiences have been postponed: learning how to insert a feeding tube, a catheter, and connect patients to oxygen. Ghadeer wanted to volunteer, but her foster family asked her not to – they were worried about being exposed to the virus.
Looking forward, Ghadeer wants to continue to earn a Master’s in nursing. Reflecting on her experiences thus far:
"Studying makes me happy, I feel that I’m doing something with my life. Succeeded at school is the best feeling I’ve ever had."