Ramala Ali shakes the hand of a young girl with other young girls looking on and smiling.

Ramla Ali

Unicef UK Ambassador

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“I’m a refugee myself, born in Somalia, we fled to Kenya after the civil war…I have a similar story to everyone here.”

In 2019, Somali boxer and former refugee, Ramla Ali travelled to Za’atari refugee camp in Jordan. She spent time at the UNICEF Makani ‘My Space’ Centre and met young girls whose families had fled Syria due to the conflict.

Among them, was a girl named Shahd.

12-year-old Shahd was a “ball of energy and enthusiasm,” recalls Ramla.

Shahd loved the Makani Centre because she could take part in a range of activities — from karate and Brazilian capoeira to kick boxing and dance. As Ramla got to know Shahd, she also discovered the inspirational role the community workers and volunteers played at the centre.

“She adored her teacher, Faiza, the woman that has been coaching her in a variety of combat sports, dancing and other disciplines despite the challenging environment they find themselves in. Now all she wants to be is a coach like Faiza,” says Ramla.

“You can only dream of what you can become with what you can see.”


A safe space to learn and play

UNICEF is proud to support community workers and volunteers like Shahd’s teacher, Faiza. They work hard to ensure young girls can access learning support, child protection, skills-building and sporting activities.

“They don’t fly or have invisible powers, they don’t have a million followers on Instagram but they do save lives,” says Ramla.

“I’m talking about..the teachers that help these children who are so desperate to learn, and the volunteers and dedicated Syrian refugees that run the UNICEF Makani centres which offer after-school spaces for sport, learning, protection and innovation for youth to exist.”

The solution in my eyes is obvious.

We must educate our sisters and daughters of tomorrow, they are the key to change and the answer to a more positive society.
Ramla Ali

UNICEF is working tirelessly to protect children, like Shahd, and give them hope for a happy future. We’re there in the refugee camps, providing education, psychosocial support and safe spaces for them to play and have some much-needed fun.

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