A refugee who left Iraq and came to the UK at the age of three to get urgent medical treatment has won a place at Cambridge University to study medicine after achieving four A*s in his A-levels on Thursday (13 August).
18-year-old Buraq Ahmed has suffered from an incredibly painful hip condition from a very young age. And in 2005, when he was three, Buraq’s parents Duraid Abdullah and Ruaa Yousif decided to sell their home in Iraq to fund surgery in the UK to alleviate his condition.
The 3-year-old boy then travelled to the UK with his grandmother, 69-year-old Saadiyah Khattab. They were only meant to stay long enough for him to have and recover from the surgery. But at that time, the war in Iraq intensified and they were unable to return. Buraq and his grandmother were granted refugee status and subsequently settled in Cardiff.
As such, Buraq, who was unable to speak English then, started school in the UK. And now he has earned his A-Levels, receiving four A*s in biology, chemistry, economics and maths.
And that’s with him taking daily pain medication for his congenital hip dysplasia following hip replacement surgery in August 2019 on his right hip.
Buraq wins a place at Cambridge University to study medicine and hopes to become an NHS doctor to pay tribute to the kindness, love, and support of the medics that treated him as a toddler.
He said: “Neither my grandmother or myself spoke English when we arrived in the UK, and there were many days when I was unable to move. Initially we were only coming to the UK for a limited time however the Iraq War and ISIS terrorism attacks meant we couldn’t go back.
“As a child you don’t realise the trauma you and your family are going through and I was fortunate that my grandmother was always there for me. My aunt and uncle also subsequently moved to Cardiff and, as my grandmother was getting older by this time, we moved in with them and my young cousins.”
Buraq hasn’t seen his parents for a decade.
Buraq continued: “As I have got older, I have realised what a worrying time it must have been for my parents and my three younger brothers who were born after I left Iraq and now live in Belgium.
“Having spent so much time in hospitals with some of my happiest times being looked after by amazing NHS nurses I decided that I wanted to help other people who were suffering.”
Buraq’s scheduled surgery on his left hip has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Buraq was actually a talented footballer who got a slot to play for Cardiff City Academy. When his condition worsened, however, it meant he was unable to play, and instead decided to focus on his studies at Cardiff Sixth Form College. Understandably, the principal of the college Gareth Collier was full of praise for his former student.
He said: “Buraq is an extraordinary student who out of adversity has really gone onto achieve great things. Despite the traumatic start to his life, continued separation from his parents and the strong medication that he uses to manage his daily pain, Buraq never dwelled on these difficulties.
“Instead, this has made him resilient, determined to succeed and embrace every opportunity that has been available at the college. He fully deserves both his grades and a place at Cambridge.
Our NHS needs people like Buraq and I am truly delighted for him.”