Pupil who fled Syria recognised for bravery

Mohamad Khalil with the Leeds City Academy principal Jackie Rose.
Mohamad Khalil with the Leeds City Academy principal Jackie Rose.
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A Yorkshire student who fled Syria after he was shot in the leg when his school was attacked has won a string of awards for his “unwavering commitment” to his family and friends.

Leeds City Academy pupil Mohamad Khalil has been recognised with a Rotary Leeds Service Above Self Award’, a Rotary GB&I National Young Citizen Award’ and a Diana Award’.

While attending school in Syria, Mohamad was shot and was one of the survivors of the atrocity. In the absence of a local hospital, Mohamad, who was just 10-years-old, was treated at home by his parents.

Moving to Romania, Mohamad did not speak the language so schools refused to accept him. The family eventually moved to England and Mohamad started at Leeds City Academy in 2014.

However, after starting school life in the city, he faced yet more challenges when his father was injured at work and his mother discovered she had cancer and required surgery. To help his parents, Mohamad does the shopping and looks after them at home. Over the summer Mohamad, who can speak four languages, worked in a restaurant kitchen in Bradford and gave half of his wages to his parents to help support them.

Mohamad, who is now 16, also peer mentors his classmates. He said: “I started helping people at school because my English was bad, but I was helping people who didn’t know maths. I love helping people.”

Andrew Whitaker, executive principal of The White Rose Academies Trust, which runs the academy, praised Mohamad for his bravery. He said: “Congratulations to Mohamad’s family on the recognition of this young man’s work and unwavering commitment to his family and friends.”

Lesley Hastings, chair of youth opportunities at Rotary Club of Leeds, said Mohamed’s generosity was an example of the great enterprise and commitment shown by young people.