A Syrian refugee has graduated as a doctor, after a period of 10 years, living in four different countries and 21 homes.
Dr Tirej Brimo started medical school at the age of 17 in Aleppo, Syria, but was forced to flee 10 months into his course after the Syrian civil war broke out in 2011. He crossed the Middle East via Lebanon and was separated from his family before arriving in Egypt. Here he attempted to restart his studies, but he was again forced to leave.
Dr Brimo finally made it to the UK four years ago and applied to every medical school in the country to fulfil his dream of becoming a doctor. He was rejected by most schools, as the courses he had completed in Syria were different to those on offer in Britain.
He was finally offered a place at St George’s University in London, and was allowed to start the course in a third year place. He paid for his studies by working as a phlebotomist at Croydon University Hospital, as well as using a student loan.
Dr Brimo’s mother, brother and sister have since made it to the UK, where Dr Brimo graduated last week. He told the Evening Standard that he is grateful for this second chance. “I have learnt that the UK is a fair place. If you put the effort in, you get a result,” he said. “I feel attached to the British community. It welcomed me, gave me love and believed in me.”
He hopes to specialise in emergency medicine or trauma surgery. “One day I might go somewhere where there is war because I understand how difficult it is to lose everything at once, and how important it is to have someone be compassionate towards you,” he said.