Gaza student takes home int'l top prize

Talk about triumph in the face of adversity! Areej El Madhoun, a 14-year-old Palestinian refugee living in Gaza, took first place at an international math competition in Malaysia just two weeks after the recent devastating violence in Gaza ended.
Through the support of her UNRWA math teacher, ninth-grader, Areej El Madhoun, triumphs in international math competition only two weeks after the November violence in Gaza.
Areej is a ninth grader at UNRWA’s school in Jabalia refugee camp, near the Israeli border. With a population over 110,000 people packed into an area of only 1.4 square km, Jabalia is the largest refugee camp in Gaza and one of the most densely populated places in the world. Despite living with frequent electricity cuts, limited clean water, and the lasting effects of the recent conflict, Areej solved 182 complicated math problems within an 8 minute period, beating out 2,500 other participants from ten countries and wining the top prize at the IMA International Competition.
Areej sees her success as the greatest gift she can offer to the children of Gaza after the recent eight-day war, which brought death and destruction and nearly doubled the reported cases of psychological trauma and PTSD among Gazans.
“Winning the first prize is a victory for Palestine. I was very proud to carry my country’s flag,” Areej exclaimed with enthusiasm. “When I was announced as the winner, I felt overwhelmed and cried so hard. I went through some difficult times before the competition. The most recent conflict in Gaza had just ended two weeks before the competition began.”
A recent UNRWA and UNICEF study of children affected by the conflict in Gaza found a 91% increase in sleep disturbances among children, while 84% of respondents were reported as looking “stunned or dazed,” and 85% reported appetite changes. Click here to learn more.
In the end, Areej did not let the fear and anxiety from the conflict stop her from achieving her goal, proving once again that when given the opportunity and through the support of organizations like UNRWA, the youth of Palestine can achieve remarkable things!
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The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) provides humanitarian assistance and human development and protection programs including food aid, education, health care, and job training to registered Palestine refugees living in Gaza, the West Bank, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. Today, in times of both conflict and calm, UNRWA supports, protects, and empowers more than 5 million Palestinian refugees in need. All donations to AFU are tax-deductible to the fullest extent under the law.
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