The winner of the 2017 International Children’s Peace Prize will be honored in Woods Hole on July 3 at 4 PM at the Woods Hole Public library. Mohamad Al Jounde, who as a young child escaped from Syria with his family, is being honored for his success in opening a school for other children in the Bekka Valley Refugee Camp in Lebanon when he was twelve. Unfortunately due to the current travel ban he is unable to attend this event in person, but he will appear via live Skype video chat.
His family fled Syria after the regime abducted his mother twice for her activism and threatened to kill her. The family ended up in a refugee camp, near Beirut in Lebanon, safe but destitute. Time weighed heavily upon Mohamad and his sister as there was no school for them to attend. It was only after his father introduced him to Ramzi Haidar a photographer, that the boy began to take an interest in his surroundings and see other’s troubles. “I like going to camps and the streets and protests and taking photographs of people, mostly,” he says.
“I didn’t go for school for two years, but when I started learning photography it ended the emptiness in my life – it helped me express myself and show people how I live.” He soon began to teach other children: Math and English, and also photography.
When he was twelve, Mohamad, with the help of his mother, organized and got funding for, the Bekka Valley School. Now, four years later, there are 200 students at the school.
In thinking back on his story, “I didn’t manage my trauma well, but after I started working in camps with children, I knew that there are people who have harder lives,” he says. “So I started thinking there are two options: either I’m weak or I can think positively. I started to think I could make my life better than it was in Syria and I can make myself a better person – the kids really wanted an education, and they also helped me get over my trauma.”
The organization which awards The International Children’s Peace Prize, KidsRights, was established in 2003 to encourage and promote the meaningful participation of children and teenagers in their communities and in the world. At the ceremony honoring Mohamad with the global prize, the award was bestowed upon him by Nobel Peace Laureate Malala Yousafzai.
At the presentation at the Library, a fifteen minute film about Mohamad’s work and KidsRights will be shown. A reception will follow the program. The event is free and the public is invited.
Click here for an article in The Guardian about Mohamad.