Not a lot of children can claim they founded their very one school, much less child refugees living in cramped and haphazard refugee camps, during the very crux of the Arab Spring.
Meet Mohamed Al Jounde
At 12 years old, Mohamed Al Jounde set up a school in the Bekaa Valley refugee camp, in Lebanon. It’s easy to assume that such a feat was made possible because he may have come from a background of privilege and inherited philanthropy. But really, Mohamed is another displaced Syrian, exiled from his country along with his family and waves of millions of others that fled to Lebanon for safety and security.
This daunting reality didn’t deter Mohamed
With a passion for school, children and rebuilding his community, Mohamed ran classes for fellow refugees teaching mathematics and photography, himself! Today, his school boasts of 200 students in attendance, fully-operating classrooms that have expanded into various other subjects and grade levels, including literacy and gender equality classes for adults.
His impact warrants applause
It’s worth noting that over half a million of Syrian school-aged refugees reside in Lebanon, but only about half of which are actually enrolled in school.
With Lebanon’s health, energy, water and various other resources already stretched to the limit, stories like Mohamed’s inspires mobilization of wit and determination to empower children, regardless of what obstacles may stand in one’s way.
This is not just about teaching reading and writing, but giving young refugees a safe space to express themselves.
And the world responded
Now, 4 years later, 16-year-old Mohamed has no plans of stopping his efforts anytime soon. Just this past month, he was named winner of the International Children’s Peace Prize! The award was presented by Malala Yousafzai herself- a fellow children’s education rights activist, too. “As Mohamed knows, Syria’s future depends on its children – and their future depends on education,” Yousafzai said at the event.
Along with the international recognition, Mohamed Al Jounde was granted a €100,000 project fund, to be invested by KidsRights into school and education-related efforts in Syria.
Every child has the right to education, to develop, to dream big and to enjoy life. Every child has the right to learn, has the right to try to go to school so for me this is what I’m fighting for.
What’s next for Mohamed?
When asked what his long-term plans for the future look like, he said: “The future is unclear and uncontrollable, so I stopped worrying about that. I want to focus on what I can do now.” That’s the best any of us can do.
We stand proudly behind you Mohamed!
Mohamed Al Jounde was quoted from his KidsRights YouTube video.