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This Syrian Boy Just Won an International Peace Prize and Met Malala

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Monday was a good day for Mohamad Al Jounde. 

At the young age of 16, he was named the winner of the International Children’s Peace Prize and got to meet educational activist Malala Yousafzai, the Express Tribune reports

Al Jounde was honored for his work bringing education to Syrian refugee children in Lebanon. A refugee himself, he helped set up a school for fellow refugees when he was just 12 years old. The school now serves 200 students at the Bekaa Valley refugee camp, and also offers literacy and gender equality classes to adults, according to the report. 

Take Action: Ask World Leaders to Fund Year 2 of Education Cannot Wait

“This is not just about teaching reading and writing, but giving young refugees a safe space to express themselves,” Al Jounde said at the event, which has awarded the prize since 2005. 

He will receive a study grant from the KidsRights Foundation, the Dutch organization that grants the award, as well as a €100,000 project fund, to be invested by KidsRights into education-related projects in his home country.   

“As Mohamad knows, Syria’s future depends on its children – and their future depends on education,” Yousafzai said. 

According to UNICEF, 2.5 million Syrian kids are refugees and 1.75 million are currently out-of-school within the country. 

Read More: Argentina Grants 1,000 Scholarships to Syria Refugees and Urges Others to Follow

Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, including goal number four: quality education. Join us in calling on the governments of Sweden, Japan, and Finland to commit funds to Education Cannot Wait, which provides an education to displaced and out-of-school children around the world. 

According to KidsRights, around half a million Syrian refugee students are located in Lebanon. But, Human Rights Watch reports, just half of them, or 250,000, are currently enrolled in school. The influx of refugees in Lebanon, according to Human Rights Watch, has placed a financial strain on the host country’s services — affecting health, energy, water, waste collection, and education resources. 

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Read More: Malala Is Writing a Children’s Book About a Magic Pencil & Fixing the World

“Every child has the right to education, to develop, to dream big and to enjoy life,” Al Jounde said in a video released on Youtube. “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.”