Sajida Altaya is co-founder, contributor and Arabic editor at RefuTales. She studies Engineering at Kiron, the university for refugees, where she also works part-time. In her spare time, she learns German and perfects her English. Being a refugee herself, she has a wide range of experiences and constructive criticism that she wants to share with policy makers and the wider public. In this she wishes to improve the well-being of European citizens and refugees alike.
Sajida hates the fact that she was forced to move out of her home country. While being grateful for the warm welcome she has received in her newfound home in Germany, the widespread bureaucracy is hindering a quick and mutually beneficial integration of her and her fellow refugees. She decided to co-found RefuTales to bring these these issues into focus.
Sajida grew up in Syria’s capital Damascus, where she also received her high school degree. She started studying Civil Engineering at the University of Damascus, but had to interrupt her studies when she fled Syria for Turkey in November 2014. She stayed there for 10 months with her family, working in various jobs to make a living. Her favourite was in the First Arabic Library in Istanbul, where she spent lots of time reading books—her favourite pastime besides playing volleyball and chess. In October 2015, she finally arrived in Germany (where she applied for) and was granted asylum after five months of waiting. In the arrival camp, she helped her fellow refugees by translating documents from English to Arabic.
Since it is her dream to become a civil engineer, she has taken up her studies again at Kiron, located in Berlin. This is a university for refugees that aims to help with the transition into regular German universities. While giving a presentation about her journey to Europe, Kiron’s founder spotted her talent and offered her a job. She is now helping with student recruitment, female empowerment, amongst other things. Sajida’s work is very appreciated, and she loves being able to make a difference.
Sajida is a woman with a vision. She hopes that she can one day return to Syria and help rebuild her home country. For the meantime, she works to better the lives of fellow refugees in Europe.
You can get in touch with her via email@example.com.
If you want to see Sajida in action, have a look at these links:
- Sajida talked to The Atlantic, a leading US magazine, about her journey and hopes.
- Here’s a short snippet about her visiting the German Foreign Ministry.
- Bloomberg reported on Sajida as a role model for integration of refugee women into Higher Education.
- Sajida was part of a TechCrunch panel discussion about how technology can help refugees.