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Syrian Teen Mohamad Al Jounde Wins Children’s Peace Prize for Building Refugee School in Lebanon

We like to think Ummahsonic covers many themes. But if we had to pick a theme that tends to bubble above all the other themes, a theme that consistently makes us sit up and say ‘this, this is a cool good thing that we should tell you about’, it would have to be precocious Muslim teens making the world an ever so slightly or, in fact, far better place.

Whether they’re winning debate contests or advancing technology at robotics festivals, we’re down to spread the news. So as not to labour over this intro for too long, let’s dive into what this story’s actually about. Right now.

Mohamad Al Jounde, a 16-year-old Syrian refugee, recently won the 2017 International Children’s Peace Prize after setting up a school in the Bekaa Valley refugee camp in Lebanon when he was only 12-years-old. That’s right, he started a school when he was 12.

With the help of relatives and volunteers in the camp, Mohamad set about constructing the school building and teaching classes that covered everything from english and maths to photography.

Three years on from its launch, the school has 200 students being taught by professional teachers, and offers gender equality lessons and literacy classes for adult refugees.

With about 500,000 Syrian child refugees living in Lebanon alone, initiatives like Mohamad’s are vital to the future of the war-torn country. As Jounde told Reuters: ‘It is very important to give these children an education, otherwise they could become a lost generation.’

The award, which was set up in 2005 by the Dutch KidsRights Foundation, has previously honoured Malala Yousafzai. This year, the humanitarian, education advocate and all-round great person, was there to present the prize to Mohamad herself.

At the ceremony in The Hague, Malala reiterated the winner’s sentiments: ‘As Mohamad knows, Syria’s future depends on its children – and their future depends on education.’

Even in the middle of a conflict that has cost the lives of thousands and displaced millions more, it’s incredible to see a Syrian like Mohamad providing children with an education.

Not only does it show that the pursuit of knowledge will always prevail over adversity, the fact he’s only 16 proves there is real hope for Syria’s future generations.

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