The Hornsby branch of an international women’s organisation has embraced this year’s ‘inspiring change’ theme for International Women’s Day by presenting its first scholarship to a western Sydney high school student.
Fifteen-year-old Zahraa Habeeb from Blacktown is the recipient of the inaugural Soroptimist International (Hornsby club) education scholarship.
Supported by Settlement Services International (SSI), Zahraa and her family are living in Sydney while they await the outcome of their application for refugee status.
“SSI gratefully acknowledges the generosity of the Hornsby club of Soroptimist International, and the support these women have given Zahraa, a young lady who has come to Australia from difficult circumstances,” said SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis.
Originally from Iraq, Zahraa and her family have been in Sydney on bridging visas since July, and are unable to work.
“The scholarship has provided computer equipment that will help immeasurably with Zahraa’s studies, but it’s also a resource that the whole family will benefit from,” said Ms Roumeliotis.
President of the Soroptimist International Hornsby club, Rosemary Fitzgerald said that the values of Soroptimist International and SSI were aligned in that both organisations strongly support human rights, and have an interest in supporting women and children.
“We are thrilled to be able to support Zahraa in her school education and to encourage her enthusiasm for learning,” said Ms Fitzgerald.
“The Hornsby club will provide ongoing assistance where we can to support an inspiring young lady like Zahraa.”
Zahraa is enrolled in the Intensive English Centre (IEC) at Evans High School. Deputy Principal Bridget Sarris said that Zahraa had demonstrated a keen interest and commitment, and made great progress since she enrolled in October last year.
“Before the end of this year Zahraa will be able to transition from IEC to mainstream Year 10, a great achievement considering she knew little English less than 12 months ago,” said Mrs Sarris.