He left Yemen for Missouri State. An outstanding bill might send him back to a war zone.
From Springfield News Leader:
At the end of last semester, Missouri State University student Mohammed Jubary had no idea how he could come up with $15,000 to pay down his outstanding tuition and register for classes.
The stakes are high for the 26-year-old mechanical engineering technology student.
Jubary's family lives in Yemen, where more than 10,000 people have been killed and about 2 million have been displaced in a civil war. If he can't come up with $15,000, he risks losing his student visa and being forced to leave the country.
"If I have to go back to Yemen, that’s one of the things that terrifies me," Jubary said. "I've spoken very harshly against the rebels. I don’t know what would be my destiny at this point."
Between worrying about the ability to pay tuition and his family's safety in war-torn Yemen, Jubary said his heart is being "torn to pieces."
When there are airstrikes near his family's home, his mother sends him messages to say goodbye: "I might not make it tonight I hope you do well."
"Those messages destroy my hopes and it's crazy," Jubary said. "Last semester and the semester before that, I reached moments I couldn't study anymore because I was constantly worried."
Though his family is an ocean and continent away, Jubary said recent acts of kindness have made Springfield feel more like home. After learning about Jubary's situation, MSU faculty and students have rallied behind Jubary and raised funds to help him finish his degree.
Jubary said the response from the community has been "really amazing."
"I feel really thankful for the people here in Springfield and, honestly, I feel blessed to be in this area," Jubary told the News-Leader.
From a moment of despair to a 'bright ray of light'
Not knowing what else to do, Jubary had approached Professor Kevin Hubbard earlier this year after learning he needed to pay $15,000 before registering for classes. Hubbard had taught a few of Jubary's classes and is the director of the mechanical engineering technology program at MSU.
"I reached out to him and I told him about my situation and that’s when he told me he would take care of it. To make sure I would be registered for classes in the fall," Jubary said.
About three weeks later, Hubbard told Jubary that he started fundraising. Hubbard and other faculty members in his department each donated $500 for Jubary's tuition.
"I was surprised and shocked in a very beautiful way," Jubary said.
Later, one of his classmates, Grant Wheeler, set up an online crowdfunding campaign on GoFundMe, called "Help Mohammed Finish School."
Wheeler called Jubary "one of the best persons I know." They are both members of the same student organization, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Jubary is hardworking and well-liked, Wheeler said, and he deserves the opportunity to finish school. As of Saturday, people have donated more than $6,600 to the cause online.
Jubary estimates that with the additional $3,000 already raised by mechanical engineering technology students and faculty, he's about $5,000 away from hitting the goal.
The donations from classmates and professors, the crowdfunding campaign — they all came as a surprise to Jubary.
"That moment I will never forget in my life, honestly. Because I was hopeless, it was a moment of despair and then a huge bright ray of light showed up on the horizon," Jubary said.
Even if he is able to hit his $15,000 goal, Jubary said it would be difficult to register for the classes he needs in order to graduate. A couple of the courses are already full, he said.
"I talked to the university and they didn't have a solution for me," Jubary said. "I’m hoping someone might intervene and they make an exception for my case, honestly."
The civil war changed everything
Jubary said he came to the U.S. in August 2014 with full financial support from his family. His parents' upper-middle class salaries could pay for his tuition and textbooks. One month later, Iranian-backed Houthi rebels seized control of the capital city of Sana'a, where his parents live with Jubary's three younger siblings. The Yemen civil war changed everything, he said.
Saudi Arabia and other countries intervened and started an airstrike campaign against the rebels. The U.S. has provided the Saudi-led coalition with logistical support.
"The main goal was to target the rebels and militia and armies and stuff," Jubary said. "They ended up bombing schools, bombing hospitals, destroying infrastructure (and) killing civilians."
In 2016, an airstrike hit a funeral home in what Jubary called a "barbaric act." Hundreds were injured and about 150 died, Jubary said, including one of his relatives.
The United Nations has called Yemen the "worst man-made humanitarian crisis of our time."
There's now a constant shortage of food, gas and electricity, said Jubary. The price of food has skyrocketed due to a blockade. The exchange rate of currency has more than doubled. Jubary's mother is an instructor at the engineering college in Sana'a. She hasn't been paid in almost two years, he said. His father's company lost about three-quarters of its employees, Jubary said. His father kept his job but is now getting paid a third of what he used to make. He tries to talk to his family once or twice a week, scheduling his calls around frequent power outages in Sana'a. Sometimes he can hear explosions over the phone as he's talking to his parents.
Springfield residents 'very friendly, very genuine'
Jubary said despite the challenges he faces with tuition, he feels lucky to be in Springfield. He has an engineering internship with SRC Electrical. The power is always on. He doesn't have to watch people die every day. Jubary is deeply optimistic that, with help from the community, he'll be able to register for classes in the fall.
Some Yemeni friends have always told Jubary that he should live in a bigger city, in New York or somewhere in California, a place "where they welcome internationals."
After the fundraising campaign began, Jubari called a friend to say: "I bet you can't get that kind of response in New York or California."
"People here (in Springfield) are very warm, very generous, very friendly, very genuine," Jubary said. "I feel like I made a really good decision right now by being here."
Jubary said he used to dream about moving to a major metropolitan area after graduating from college.
"Now I want to stay here, I want to contribute back to the community," he said.
Jubary hopes that once he graduates, he'll be able to find a job in Springfield. He wants to start a fellowship for mechanical engineering technology students — to provide support when they are struggling for money, as others have done for him.