Noble cause: Shahra Jafar Ali with Dr P Max Sully, Academic Dean Murdoch University (left)and Daniel Adkins, Academic Director on Tuesday at the university in Academic City, Dubai Image Credit: Zarina Fernandes/ Xpresss

Dubai: The smiles are back on Shahra Jafar Ali’s face. Until last week the Sri Lankan housemaid’s daughter was staring at an uncertain future as lack of funds had put her dream to study further in doubt. But an XPRESS report highlighting her plight has changed her life.

Ever since the December 12 report, Shahra, 17, has been contacted by hundreds of people offering financial assistance.

Not just that, Australia’s Murdoch University Dubai has given her a free seat in a three-year graduation course in Computer Science.

“Having read Shahra’s plight in XPRESS, we at Murdoch University Dubai felt compelled to take action to help this promising student. Murdoch University in Perth, Western Australia was founded with the belief that everyone should have access to higher education.

“In the spirit of Sir Walter Murdoch, our namesake, we would like to offer Shahra a full tuition scholarship for a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Business Information Systems to attend Murdoch University’s Dubai campus,” said Dan Adkins, Academic Director — Murdoch University Dubai, Executive Vice-President — Global Institute Middle East.

On December 17, Shahra registered at Murdoch University to begin her studies from January 12 — a sweet gift for the New Year.

If she had had to pay from her own pocket she would have had to fork out Dh140,000.

Her transportation cost, which amounts to Dh4,000 for three years, has been taken care of by a Good Samaritan.

“I cannot thank XPRESS enough for helping me fulfil my dream. All my school friends had started college and I was sitting at home doing nothing. But now I too would be going to college,” Shahra said fighting back tears.

“Within hours of the XPRESS report, I got hundreds of calls. People called from as far as China. Some even came to my doorstep with money,” she said.

An Indian man even took her to a university and got her registered for a scholarship.

Shahra, who lost her father when she was 10 years old, had studied till Grade 12 with the help of her Emirati sponsor. She lives with her mother and two younger brothers in a one-bedroom house provided by her sponsor in Nad Al Sheba.