She had a simple childhood… She used to go to the school in the morning, enjoy lunch with her family members, spend time with friends in the afternoon and study in the evening.
All of a sudden, her life took a new turn and the 19-year-old Muzoon Almellehan became a Syrian refugee resettled in the UK. Popularly known as the Malala of Syria, Muzoon became the youngest Goodwill Ambassador of the UNICEF in June 2017. She reached Britain from war-ravaged Syria after spending few days in Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. However, the journey was not a smooth one.
Muzoon recently said that she was born to Eman and Rakan Almellehan in April 1999 and brought up in the Syrian city of Daraa. “I enjoyed my childhood with my mom, dad, uncles, aunties… However, the scenario changed just a month before my 13th birthday,” she told the press. The Syrian civil war began in March 2011 after the rebels launched attacks on President Bashar al-Assad and members of his Ba’ath Party. Later, the ISIS gained control of different parts of Syria and destroyed the childhood of many Syrians, like Muzoon.
The Almellehan family had no other option, but to leave the West Asian nation. Eman and Rakan, along with their two daughters and two sons, took shelter in the Jordanian refugee camp. Muzoon recounted: “I had to leave all in Syria……my home, childhood, relatives, friends… everything.” She also said: “Even as a child, I knew that education was the key to my future, so when I fled Syria, the only belongings I took with me were my school books.”
The girl continued: “At first, I was very scared. However, there was a school near the refugee camp. And then, I decided to live a ‘healthy’ life and to continue fighting.”
According to Muzoon, the life was not so easy in the refugee camp. “As a refugee, I saw what happens when children are forced into early marriage or manual labour – they lose out on education and they lose out on possibilities for the future,” she stressed.
Muzoon in Jordan
In Jordan, Muzoon met Malala Yousafzai for the first time. The Syrian girl told the Pakistani activist for female education that she was her role model. Then British Prime Minister David Cameron decided to provide shelter to Syrian refugees in Britain in 2015 and his decision allowed Muzoon and Malala – the two friends – to live together in Britain.
In 2017, the UN appointed Muzoon as the UNICEF’s Goodwill Ambassador. The 19-year-old Syrian education activist became the first person with official refugee status to become an ambassador for UN Children’s Fund. She is also the UNICEF’s youngest Goodwill Ambassador who was appointed on World Refugee Day. After becoming the ambassador, Muzoon once again visited the Jordanian refugee camp to demonstrate the importance of education.
“I met 14-year-old Sedra there. She, too, left Syria at the age of 10. She missed two years of school and now is getting the support she needs to catch up on her learning and join a public school. She dreams of becoming a legal adviser one day,” said Muzoon. She stressed: “Hearing about Sedra’s experiences took me back to when my family and I fled the war. I was so sad and scared to leave my home and school behind – the only hope I held on to was to continue my education.”
Malala with Muzoon
Muzoon didn’t forget to inform the press that cooking was her hobby. Apart from performing her duty as UNICEF ambassador and pursuing a higher education, she enjoys playing football with her brothers. Muzoon wants to become a journalist!
Meanwhile, senior representative of UNICEF (Jordan) Robert Jenkins has thanked Muzoon for encouraging girls to study, saying: “Education equips girls and boys with the knowledge and skills to fully realise their potential. Schools also provide stability and a sense of normalcy that help Syrian children overcome the challenges of life as a refugee.”
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