Malala Yousafzai

TIME 100 2015 Malala Yousafzai
All Over Sweden/Splash News/Corbis

Champion of education

I’m 16 years old and from Dara’a in Syria. I fled to Jordan with my family two years ago.

Spending time with Malala Yousafzai made me stronger. I didn’t know her before meeting her in Za’atari camp last year, but I understand she suffered, and yet she continues to fight for what she believes in—for the rights of children and for their education. She is an inspiration for me.

When it comes to continuing our education as refugees, I am on the front lines with my friends, speaking to other girls throughout the camp on the importance of going to school. My mother and father are always encouraging me. I saw this in Malala too, and her close relationship with her mother and father.

I’ve always loved learning and education, but since I fled with my family, these views have grown stronger. I have seen too much wrong to not use my voice. Malala has shown that education is crucial for laying a foundation for girls and boys to have secure lives.

I know no matter what I go through today, it will make me a stronger person for tomorrow. Rather than giving up, my friends and I will continue to think positively and try to make our community better. Girls need to learn to take care of themselves, because if they don’t, nobody will. Our lives are completely different now—we’ve gone from living in homes to surviving in tents in refugee camps. Education is the only way to regain our spirit and control over our lives.

I was so honored to be in Oslo to watch Malala be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. To see a young woman recognized with such an award made me realize that yes, I can make a difference, and I have to continue to fight for what I believe in—that all girls and boys can bring change to our world.

Almellehan is an education activist and student

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