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Education

Demi Lovato Skyped With a 19-Year-Old Refugee Advocate For This Very Important Reason

Muzoon Almellehan, a Syrian education activist who lived for three years in Jordan’s Za’atari refugee camp and is referred to as "Syria's Malala," was named a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador this week. She joined a host of international stars who hold the same title, including singer Shakira and actress Priyanka Chopra. 

This news was notable for several reasons, but perhaps most so because Almellehan is just 19 years of age, making her the youngest-ever UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. Now living in the UK, she’s earned a reputation similar to Malala Yousafzai, a Pakistani education activist.  

Take Action: Tell Leaders How Important Education in Emergencies Is

For the past several years, Almellehan’s been using her voice to promote access to education in emergencies, a critical tool for limiting the long-term impact of the refugee crisis. And now she’s joining her voice with that of another rising star: Demi Lovato. 

Lovato skyped with Almellehan from her home in California after watching a video the 19-year-old activist released through Global Citizen and the Global Partnership for Education. 

“I watched your video, ‘Dear Fellow Refugee,’ and I just want to commend you for how brave you are and how you’re taking leadership in an issue that’s so important for society,” Lovato said. “It’s a privilege to be able to talk to you.” 

Read More: 15 Ways You Can Help Syrian Refugees NOW

Almellehan’s video, released in advance of World Refugee Day on June 20, put forward a message of hope to the more than 1 million refugee children who have escaped Nigeria’s terrorist organization Boko Haram and now live in camps in neighboring Chad. 

Around the world, there are nearly 50 million children who have been uprooted — whether that be through conflict or climate change, according to UNICEF. Of these displaced children, girls are two-and-a-half times more likely than boys to be out of school. 

“We haven’t forgotten them,” Almellehan said of the children displaced by Boko Haram. 

Lovato, for her part, opened up to Almellehan and offered to help in whatever capacity she could to ensure that a sufficient amount of money is allocated for education in emergencies, especially through the Education Cannot Wait Fund

The two spoke about the link between displacement, strength and resilience building and mental health, which Muzoon has experienced firsthand and which Lovato has observed during her own interaction with refugees. The singer also told Almellehan that she suffers from bipolar disorder, which has made her interested in ensuring that mental health is destigmatized and those affected receive support and the opportunity to “follow their dreams and thrive” regardless.

“Mental health is something that’s really important to me and education is as well,” Lovato said. “I want to be able to do whatever I possibly can to help you.”

Read More: 'She Is Syria' Shines Light on Women of the Refugee Crisis

She also encourage the young activist to continue to use her voice to inspire other refugee and displaced children around the world.

“It’s so beautiful the way that you’ve stood up for everyone who’s suffering right now,” Lovato said. “I want you to know that I hear your voice and that I stand with you.” 

After encouraging all those watching to support Education Cannot Wait by taking action on Global Citizen, Lovato also issued an invitation for Muzoon to join her at the Global Citizen Hamburg concert on the doorstep to the G20, to continue their joint fight for world leaders to prioritize support for education and mental health as a way to save and rebuild lives.