Syrian aid worker presents special prize to student

Mark Newton (with prize) and the rest of his classmates at Glebe NS, along with GOAL Syria aid worker, Alia Alsoud (left) and GOAL Development Education Coordinator, Louise Merrigan.

A young Galway student who wrote to President Michael D Higgins to implore him to do his bit to solve the Syrian refugee crisis was presented with a special award last week – by a Syrian woman who works with an Irish charity

Mark Newton, a fourth class student at Glebe National School in Aughrim, Ballinasloe, was presented with a special prize for his award-winning letter.

The young student asked the President to ‘speak to the people of the world and encourage them to find a solution to this crisis’ – and the President wrote back to him.

Mark entered GOAL’s ‘Write the Future’ competition, a development education initiative that invited students nationwide to write to a person of their choice about the ongoing refugee crisis.

More than 1,000 students aged between eight and eighteen penned letters to sports-stars, musicians, politicians and other influencers.

Mark finished as runner-up in the ‘Primary Junior’ category for third and fourth class students. He received his award from Alia Alsoud at his school on Tuesday morning of last week.

Ms Alsoud is a Syrian national who works for GOAL and is on a visit to Ireland. GOAL is supporting more than one million people inside Syria with food, water and other essential aid.

“The aim of ‘Write the Future’ is to help students learn about an important, current humanitarian situation, while also instilling the belief that their voice matters and can inspire change in both the local and global community,” said GOAL Development Education Coordinator, Louise Merrigan.