Mamadou Safayou Barry with the Dean of Islamic studies at Al-Azhar Al-Sharif.
In a heartwarming move, a student from Guinea, cycled for approximately 4,000 kilometres to Egypt, to study at his dream university, Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, a prestigious institute for Sunni Islamic learning in the world, as per a report in the BBC. The 25-year-old Mamadou Safayou Barry travelled four countries in a span of four months while dealing with harsh weather conditions and political turmoil in the nations. He was offered a full scholarship when he reached Cairo.
He told the BBC that he was unable to afford the Islamic Studies course at Al-Azhar or the flight tickets to the country. However, the reputation of the institute made him undertake the tough route through Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin, Niger and Chad. Sharing his experience, he said that he witnessed attacks on civilians by Islamist militants in Mali, Burkina Faso and Niger, which has led to coups and political instability in the country. "To travel through these countries is very hard because they don't have security at this time. They have so many problems and people there are very scared - in Mali and Burkina Faso people were looking at me like I am a bad man. All over I was seeing the military with their big guns and cars," Mr Barry told the outlet.
The 25-year-old also stated that "he was arrested and detained three times for no good reason". The incidents happened Burkina Faso and in Togo.
In Chad, his story became viral after an interview with a journalist. Many people came forward to support the father of one, which eventually allowed him to get on a flight to Egypt and avoid the war-torn Sudan. Upon his arrival in Cairo on September 5, the Dean of Islamic studies at Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, Dr Nahla Elseidy met him and offered him a seat in their Islamic Studies course. He told the BBC that he was "very, very happy" after discovering that he was also given a full scholarship. "I cannot tell you how happy I was. I thanked God," he remarked.
Ms Elseidy took to social media and said that "this support not only covers international students in Egypt but also extends abroad. Al-Azhar receives students from all countries, takes care of them, and offers them grants."