Ammar is Palestinian. He grew up in Syria before the political situation there forced his family to move to a camp in Lebanon. He is currently studying at Eton College.
Being forced from your homeland must have been a shock…
Yes. Life in Syria, before all the war and destruction, was great fun. As Palestinians, we lived in a camp in Damascus, but it was fine. We were settled, and it was nice playing out on the streets with my brothers. When the political situation started to get worse, we decided that we would leave for Lebanon. That was in 2012. That was a lot harder than life in Syria. There are numerous professions you cannot work in as a Palestinian. We struggled.
But your education has changed your situation…
I was doing well at school, and when I was in my 11th year two teachers from Eton came to our school. They interviewed 20 students and we took tests in four subjects; maths, physics, chemistry and biology. I was chosen to visit England for further interviews. Eton was a culture shock! So many green spaces, and such an interesting place. I loved the diversity. There are pupils there from all over the world.
Is the education system very different back home?
It is. At home, we have to study every subject, whereas here they let you specialise in the ones you love and are passionate about. What Cogito has done for me is life-changing, and it definitely inspires people back home. My friends can see what I have managed to achieve, and it has given them ambition. There are people in the camps who have the same ability as me, but who lack opportunity. This charity can address that.
Has what you’ve learned given you ideas for helping your people?
Yes. My ambition is to help people back home in the camps. After I graduate, I will start my career, and after that, when I have some power and money, there are projects I’m planning to carry out back home. As an engineer, there is a lot I could do. I want to work on improving the infrastructure, housing and water supply, particularly for the current Syrian refugees.
Please make a difference to the lives of teenagers like Ammar today by giving what you can.