For four-and-a-half years Syria has been burdened by a conflict which has seen over 250,000 Syrians lose their lives.
Amongst them was a young changemaker who planned on attending Merit360 with his friend Hodday Maharir, before he was killed.
In honour of his friend, Hodday has attended Merit360 with the aim of bringing peace to his home country, and correct many misconceptions about Syria as a member of SDG 16 Peace and Justice.
He said: "I am here to honour my friend and I want to show people that Syria is still alive and that Syrian people can still do something with their lives. We care about our country, that’s why there are more than 3 million volunteers in Syria who are putting their lives at risk to help people and stop the conflict."
Hodday is not angry about the conflict as he believes anger blinds people from achieving peace.
He said: "Life can get much worse and situations can get harder. It’s not about focusing on your loss - it’s about how much you have to keep holding on through your thoughts, your mind, your beliefs, your faith and your vision. It is not about talking but more about taking action"
Instead of focusing on fear he believes in the power of altering people's behaviours, claiming in doing so you can change people's attitudes and eventually the context of the situation.
As a facilitator for the British Council, Hodday's vision is to locally engage active citizens and to highlight how Syria is locally engaged and active, but not globally connected.
Although a beacon of hope it's clear Hodday has carried the burden of conflict on his shoulders. When asked what he does for fun he disregards sports and other recreational hobbies, instead he restlessly replies: "I think. I just think a lot, it’s a habit for me. I over think."
Yet his thoughts are that of optimism and progress: "because we cannot change the context directly I don’t think I will see peace, it takes time. I think it will be the next generation of peacemakers who will see change."
Text: Rochelle Beighton
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