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Mariam Al Shaar: Story #1 from #200students200stories: Mariam Al Shaar

Updated: Sep 8, 2018

The first story we want to share with you is about Mariam al Shaar, the founder of the Nour Center. 

Last summer, Mariam let me tag along to an iftar (dinner that breaks the day long fast) that she and 25 girls from the Nour Center had been invited to. The iftar was in Raouche, a beautiful neighborhood in Beirut that runs along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. That night we went to a beautiful, fancy restaurant right on the water with outdoor seating and glorious views of the sea.


But when we walked in, the waiters directed us to a room that was inside, heavily air-conditioned, and badly lit.


Mariam, without hesitation, called over the waiter, then the hostess, and then the manager. She said that we would be sitting outside; that these young girls were from the camp, that they rarely get to see and experience a place as breathtaking as this - and that we would not be sitting inside, away from the beauty. They moved us. And so we sat outside and broke the fast as the sun set.

This is a small instance that to me illustrates Mariam's spirit and strength. A story where a profound and yet startlingly simple thing such as sitting outside has to be negotiated, and where Mariam has to continuously fight and advocate. 


But she is a tireless advocate. She is role model for these girls  - a woman who steps up and speaks out for dignity and worth and power. This is a picture of Mariam that night.



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Nour International 

Nour International is a global network of students and educators supporting the Nour Center, a community school for Syrian and Palestinian youth in the Burj Al Barajneh refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon.

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