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Germany: three Syrian children are finalists of 'Colors Bekennen' award

Fled from war and terror to a new country. New language, new school, new challenges. This is especially difficult for children - you might think!

But the young finalists of this year's “Colors Bekennen” award of the Berlin Senate Chancellery under the direction of State Secretary Sawsan Chebli show that there is another way. Shantal (14), Sema (11) and Mohamed (13), all three of whom have fled Syria, are not only well integrated. They also show themselves to their classmates, teachers and the general public as helpful, committed and are real role models.

▶ ︎ Mohamed has lived in Germany since 2015, when he fled an area in Damascus that dictator Assad had bombed to the ground. He and his entire family were on foot across the Balkans for 40 days until they finally arrived in Berlin.

Today the 13-year-old is one of the best in his class, says to BILD that he has learned a lot and that his family supports him to achieve this. He passes on his knowledge to friends and classmates whom he gives voluntary tutoring. But that's not all: on days off, he brings food to homeless Berliners that he buys himself. “I can roughly say what it feels like to be homeless,” Mohamed told BILD. That is why he feels obliged to give some of his happiness to others.

▶︎ Shantal kam bereits 2014 aus Syrien, auch sie flüchtete mit ihrer Familie vor dem Krieg.

The 14-year-old comes from an extremely musical family and has been playing the piano for nine and a half years. She has already given small concerts in Germany - and it's getting better and better. In addition, she was head of school at her elementary school, and she also represents her class as class representative at her high school. She also sits in the city's children's and youth parliament for a Berlin district. "My job is to look for something that I can improve here," she told BILD. She has already successfully campaigned for a zebra crossing in front of her old school.

▶ Sema has only lived in Germany since 2016 and, when she was only five years old, fled from Idlib in northwest Syria with her older sister, both from Russian bombs and the Islamists ruling there.

The eleven-year-old is also the class representative in her fifth grade, takes care of the needs of her classmates and gives them a voice in the school management. But that's not all: although she has only been speaking German for a few years, she is one of the best readers of all fifth graders in Berlin. But the prices for reading are not important to her. Books are “better than social media”, she says to BILD, because in books you can “be whatever you want” and let your imagination run wild.

This year's selection of the three finalists for “Colors Bekennen” was “a rollercoaster ride of feelings for the jury”, says the representative of the State of Berlin for civic engagement, Sawsan Chebli, to BILD. The jury members are "carried away by what these children have already had to experience, amazed at everything they have built up here in a very short time, and full of respect for their selfless commitment to others and to our city".

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