Fighting against all odds, 17-year-old Alaa El Hajjar is building a future for herself and her home country of Lebanon. Decades of civil war, bloodshed, and political turmoil in Lebanon have exposed Alaa very early on to the vulnerabilities of humanity. The hardship endured living in such a volatile environment sparked in Alaa’s sense of purpose. Alaa wants to make a difference to her community.

With the encouragement of her family, Alaa continued to succeed in her academics. She invested her time in gaining extracurricular skills such as: learning French, swimming, and playing the piano. She immersed herself in contributing to the humanitarian efforts that her school participated in. However, it was losing her beloved grandmother to cancer that steered Alaa towards her destiny. The passing of her grandmother grew her aspirations of becoming a doctor.

Alaa recalls the life-changing moment, “I wanted to convert my sense of helplessness to motivation and ability to make a change.” Daughters for Life Foundation has helped to encourage and support Alaa’s dreams and ambitions of becoming a doctor.

Today, as a Daughters for Life Scholar, Alaa is pursuing a major in Biology and a minor in Pre-Medicine at the Manhattanville College in New York, USA.

This scholarship has opened doors and opportunities for me to get a higher education so that when I come back to Lebanon, I can make a difference,” shares Alaa.

The crippling shortages of medical care in the Middle East conflict-torn regions motivates Alaa. She hopes her continued education and university resources can help increase medical care within the Middle East.

A highly acclaimed university will have advanced facilities and research that can enable me to contribute to my field of study or help in tackling medical issues on a global scale. I might be able to find treatments and cures for diseases that were a dilemma for mankind generally and the Middle East especially,” says Alaa.

Alaa is already making a name for herself at Manhattanville College. She is an active member of Manhatanville’s Biology and Chemistry Club. Whether it is volunteering in lab experiments or participating in college events, such as the Breast Cancer Walk, Alaa is eager to gather as many new experiences as she can.

The soft-spoken and gentle Alaa is also geared up to champion the cause of women’s empowerment in Lebanon. She describes, “being a woman in the Middle East is still somehow considered as a drawback to some people. Through my education, I want to show that we women are strong and independent. We are capable of making a huge difference. This scholarship gives hope for all girls in the Middle East that they can make something of themselves and achieve their goals if they work hard.

Alaa’s message of hope and education for the girl child echoes with what the Daughters for Life Foundation stands for. Lasting peace in the Middle East can only be achieved if its women are at the forefront of dialogue and change. Brave young girls like Alaa have traveled thousands of miles away from their homeland to access quality higher education with the help of the Daughters for Life Foundation.