‘Inspiring’ refugee gets scholarship to study community engagement

Hamilton The Spectator - Suad Badri knows the frustrations of being a refugee, but she would never complain. She is extremely grateful to be here. She chuckles now, at having to wait more than a year for security clearance to qualify for permanent residency. But it wasn't easy.

Badri has a PhD in geography, a masters in environmental studies, and a bachelor of engineering. She has 25 years of academic and professional work in environmental studies and renewable energy.

In 2013-14, Badri won a fellowship at University of California, Davis, which included working in Washington, D.C. on a U.S. aid project on energy in Africa.

But on returning to Sudan, she was interrogated, ordered to stay in the country, and to check in with officials every two months.

"That was terrifying for my family," she says. It was "not like a gun pointed at your head," but the family felt "the situation could escalate out of control."

The "goodwill" her university had among the people, however, provided a safe passage in 2014 to Canada, where she was granted refugee status.

In Hamilton, she immersed herself in the community, becoming a Hamilton Urban Core Community Health Centre board member in 2015, a city advisory committee member on refugees and immigrants in 2016, and in 2017 a community adviser in a McMaster University research project on technology-based ESL programs.

She is now enrolled in the Leadership in Community Engagement course at McMaster's downtown centre for continuing education, thanks to a $5,000 Western Union scholarship.

Michael Barker-Fyfe, a manager with Western Union, which transfers money internationally for foreign students among other things, found Badri's story of helping other newcomers inspiring.

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