Mai Al-Qaisi: From Refugee to Save Our Future Global Ambassador
Mai, from Palestine, was raised in Beit Jibreen refugee camp near Bethlehem, in the south of the West Bank. In 2007, supported by the Horizon Foundation, she was offered a place to attend UWC Atlantic in the United Kingdom.
"I never thought I would go and study abroad”, she said. “It is very hard for us as Palestinians to get access to high-quality education”.
Thinking back to her time at UWC, she said “it was my best experience ever, it was life changing for me. Meeting people from 90 nationalities and from different cultures has opened up my mind, my way of thinking, and made me realise that I don’t only belong to my own community, but to the whole world”.
Later, she went on to study international relations and political science at the University of Exeter. “After graduating from university, I felt empowered to make a positive change to society”. That is when Mai decided to go back to Palestine, where she started working for ActionAid Palestine leading their youth programme. She has also tirelessly implemented musical and educational initiatives to develop the well-being of Palestinian refugee children in the south of the West Bank. In August 2019, as the first recipient of the Horizon Seed Funding grant, Mai ran a music summer camp in Dheisheh refugee camp, Bethlehem, empowering 50 children aged 8-13 through music, singing and dancing.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Mai has been appointed Global Ambassador for the Save Our Future campaign run by the Education Commission, a global initiative encouraging greater progress on Sustainable Development Goal 4 by ensuring inclusive and quality education and promoting lifelong learning for all. The campaign wishes to bring global attention to the negative effects of the pandemic for education worldwide.
"Education is a fundamental right. It’s the key for refugees to be truly free, independent and to become leaders in their communities. The right to education is one of the most valuable assets a refugee can have”