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These Two Syrian Refugees Beat the Odds — Now They’re Heading to Med School

Two years ago, Syrian refugee Sulaiman Wihba hitched a ride to the United Kingdom in the back of a refrigerated van. 

Desperate to leave the refugee camp in Calais — known as the “jungle” camp until it was dismantled in last year — he stowed away among frozen french fries, he told the Telegraph.

In the UK he met Elias Badin, another Syrian refugee who travelled for two months by car, boat, and foot to reach safety in the UK, according to ITV

Today, the friends, both 19 years old, are celebrating their fantastic A-level results.

The A-level, short for Advanced level, is a standardized exam used in the British education system typically taken by students finishing high school. Universities in the UK have different minimum A-level result requirements in order for students to be considered for admission to programs, meaning a student’s A-level result could determine where they go to university and what they study.

Badin and Wihba’s strong results mean they’ll be able to pursue their dreams of becoming doctors.

“It's all about payback, being a doctor, helping people, it's really interesting, I like problem solving, providing the best care. My mum will be so happy,” Wihba has said.

Read more: This Syrian Refugee Became a Doctor After Studying in Four Countries

Like many others Wihba and Badin fled Damascus, Syria, in hopes of a brighter and safer future. 

“It got to a point where we had to either stay there or risk our lives on a journey that might get us to a better place,” he told the Telegraph

“The chance of you being killed in Syria has a certain number,” Badin told the Telegraph. “The longer you stay, the higher this number gets. If you travel through Europe and risk your life only for that journey, and then live in a safe place like the UK, you won’t have this risk always.”

Both teenagers were given five years’ asylum in the UK, according to the Telegraph, as well as scholarships to Brighton College, according to CNN

After studying medicine, both Badin and Wihba hope to return to Syria to help others, he told ITV in an interview. But the civil war, which began on Wihba’s 13th birthday is now in its sixth year and shows no signs of letting up. 

“The situation there is really impossible to cope with, if things get better I would love to go back but I can't see things getting better in the short term,” Wihba told the Independent.

Global Citizen campaigns to help refugees and those caught in crises and emergency situations. You can take action here.

Read more: These Are 5 Reasons Why People Become Refugees

Wihba considers himself among the luckiest of Syrian refugees, “the 1% of the 1%” luckiest people he told ITV. More than 5.1 million Syrians have been registered as refugees to date, according to UNHCR. However, many Syrian refugees have yet to be officially registered and more remain internally displaced within Syria.