From being a refugee in Syria and not knowing the English language to earning 3 A*s in her A-levels in the UK, Dana Alarnab's story of perseverance and triumph and then turning around to support others that were in her position of being a refugee in the UK was inspiring. Over 20 young adults shared similar stories during an exhilarating evening on 22nd November 2022 at the Universal Peace Federation Young Achiever Awards in the Houses of Parliament, hosted by Shaun Bailey MP. Proud Mums and Dads as well as Parliamentarians, who are used to the hurly-burly of politics in the Palace of Westminster, were treated to an inspiring evening.

The Young Achiever Awards recognises young people that have gone above and beyond in their investments in the service of others. This year, 22 people were selected and celebrated in the House of Commons and presented an award by Members of Parliament. Just before they received their award, each awardee was invited to share their story and speak about the journey they have walked.

The first person to share their testimony was 19-year-old Sabrina Daniel. Imagine coming to the UK as an asylum seeker at the age of 4, and going into foster care from age 6. Even though her start was difficult and she didn't know the English language well, Sabrina achieved excellence in school and university all while creating and supporting numerous successful projects for the benefit of those around her. Some of her notable projects include: teaching new asylum seekers English grammar to support their integration into UK society; creating a mentorship programme that links young people in foster care and foster care leavers with mentors to support them in their development, in partnership with the city council; giving primary school assemblies to educate children about asylum seeking and refugee children to make them feel welcome; fundraising to support her local asylum centre; and much more.

Sabrina's is surely a story of dedication and perseverance and we are eagerly anticipating what Sabrina will achieve in the future.

21-year-old reigning Miss International UK Evanjelin Elchmanar was the second awardee of the evening. As a champion for women and single mothers that have experienced domestic violence, Evanjelin raised £15,000 for the build of a new house for a single mother of two living in Sri Lanka and has raised over £75,000 for numerous charities in the past 7 years. Through her own charity 'Climate Exchange LTD', Evanjelin educates the younger generation about climate change through art. The diversity of areas in which Evanjelin has contributed to society is clearly on show.

A self-described idealist, Mohammed Noor, a 25-year-old from Birmingham was next to speak and receive the award. Over the last few years, Mohammed has been providing mentoring to young boys aged 10-15 years old. He aims to inspire in them a determination that we can all achieve whatever we set our minds to. Furthermore, he has also been supporting low-income families in his community with financial administrative work. Mohammed continuously strives to better society and the lives of those around him to create the bright future we all hope for.

The 18-year-old activist and public speaker, Anita Okunde was the next recipient of the 2022 Young Achiever Award. As Founder and President of Girl Up Manchester, Anita has led girls in Manchester to a more enlightened space about sexual health and sex education. In the last two years, together with her team, she worked to educate young girls about periods, help reduce "period poverty", connect girls with female professionals in their desired industry, and give sex education. Furthermore, Anita works hard to promote climate justice and focuses on putting those disproportionately affected by climate change at the forefront of the climate movement. This has led to her being listed as one of the Top 100 Environmentalists, according to Forbes.

Junior Doctor Batool Hussain Wali was the fifth awardee of the evening. Dr Hussain Wali was on the front line during the tumultuous peaks of the COVID-19 pandemic here in the UK. She not only provided care for those that could not receive visitors at the hospital she worked with, but Dr Hussain Wali also helped to raise awareness about the importance of vaccination programmes within ethnic communities.

The next awardee to speak was Laiba Waseem. Laiba is someone that has gone through a great deal from a young age, including depression, PTSD and sexual assault. When she went to the relevant authorities and social support organisations for help, she was let down and ignored. Her plight was not taken seriously. Even so, Laiba continues to recover from her difficult life experiences and decided to join and help the very organisations and authorities that turned her away. How many of us would think about doing that - helping the very organisations that let us down in our time of need? Through working with the police, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) run by the NHS, and other social care organisations, Laiba is helping to raise awareness and understanding of the needs of people that are going through and recovering from trauma and supports in evaluating the effectiveness of the best practises in these groups. Laiba's amazing story is an inspiration and one that we will not forget.

Youth and Students for Peace (YSP) in the UK received three Young Achiever Awards. Elliot Yamamoto, Violet Dirnhoffer and Alma Gaina all were presented with the awards by Shaun Bailey MP and Dean Russell MP.  YSP-UK has been doing service projects as well as designing peace courses and projects to inspire young people and provide them with the skills to implement their vision. 

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