May 27, 2016

Raouf helped raise $90 million for education

Meet 11-year-old Raouf. He lives in Za’atari refugee camp but hopes to one day become a doctor. He’s also the star of our documentary, Salam Neighbor, and this week virtually presented 250,000 petitions to world leaders, asking them to increase education funding in emergencies.

What was otherwise a rather dry World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, burst into emotion as his face popped up on screen in the main major session. Watch here:

As the session wrapped up, foreign ministers and heads of state from around the world pledged a total of $90 million dollars to the Education Cannot Wait Fund, to help ensure displaced children like Raouf get the chance at education. This will help affect around 750,000 children like Raouf and his friends. We have been so honored to work with Global Citizen, Chime for Change and the passionate Salma Hayek to advocate for this important cause. #BooksBuildLives

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Who ever thought Salma Hayek would be talking about our film!!

As Congressman Ted Lieu said this week to MSNBC, “of the $16.6 billion in aid contributed toward the Syrian crisis between 2011 and 2015, only $208 million has gone towards education specifically — that’s a little more than 1 percent… Funding education programs can reap economic rewards globally, while protecting the United States’ security interests. Educated populations are more likely to escape poverty and become productive citizens. With increased purchasing power, educated kids will contribute greatly to their own country’s GDP and to the global economy. Educated populations also contribute more positively to the stability and security of their home nations. As the Syrian crisis has shown us, the stability of the developing world is vital for the security interests of the United States. Investing in a more secure future for children is the way to protect those interests and combat extremist forces that prey upon disengaged youth.”

Thank you to everyone who has signed the petition already, and we hope you’ll continue to make your voices heard. For anyone who’d like to join us, you can learn more and sign the petition here:

Here are some photo highlights from the World Humanitarian Summit:

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Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown watching the video

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We helped put on a screening of Shaun the Sheep for 300 Syrian kids

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Chris and Zach with Elmo after their panel on education with Sesame Street