Young leader and education advocate Muzoon Almellehan says education protects young people as well as empowering them
Despite the many education challenges that children and young people – especially those living in conflict zones – face today, Muzoon Almellehan, a youth and education advocate and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador believes that “youth should never lose hope.”
Almellehan was among the young leaders who took part in the recent Doha Forum: Youth Edition, organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Qatar Foundation, where she emphasized the importance of education in maintaining identity, culture, and values. And she says that education not only empowers youth, but also protects them.
Having begun campaigning for children’s rights and education while living in Jordan’s Za’atari and Azraq refugee camps for three years, Almellehan’s passion for education turned into a driving force that enabled her to not only continue her higher education, but also to empower those around her through learning. “Education is not only about helping myself, it is about helping others too,” she says.
Like many Syrians, Almellehan and her family fled their war-torn homeland in 2013, leaving behind everything they knew only to be faced with a journey into the unknown. According to her, education was her only safe haven.
“From my personal experience, I realized how important education was to me,” she explains. “In fact, I realized this the moment I left my country. Even though I lost everything I owned, what I was able to keep was my knowledge and education.”
The young leader later became the then youngest-ever UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador at the time, and the first person holding refugee status to be appointed to such a role.
Sometimes, people lose hope when they are faced with such difficulties. But what’s important is that we should not lose hope and chase our dreams and aspirations.
“I want to send a message to the Arab youth, because many of them are suffering a lot,” she said. “Whether through the wars and disasters that afflict them, or through day-to-day issues like finding a job after graduation, they are dealing with many challenges.
“Sometimes, people lose hope when they are faced with such difficulties. But what’s important is that we should not lose hope and chase our dreams and aspirations. We should never give up, because to give up is to fail. And as long as we don’t give up, we will be OK.”
Being a voice of youth, Almellehan believes that critical thinking is important for the growth of individuals and entire civilizations. “I believe that criticism is something positive,” she says.
“I have met so many people and I’m always debating things with others. And when I do so, it makes me happy, because I am adding to my knowledge and opening my eyes to different points of view. That’s why I believe that criticism should be seen as a positive rather than negative, as it enriches our knowledge.”
Almellehan is proud to be an Arab youth leader and believes that her own journey and experiences have helped to shape her as an advocate for education and for young people.
“I would like people to look at my story and take it as an example,” she says. “And I would like them to know that I will not only help by channeling their voices - I will also help through my actions.”