It has been years since Fadi last saw his home in Aleppo, Syria. The former civil engineer was pursuing a career as a Jesuit priest in Lebanon when the conflict back home escalated. Seeing the Syrian death toll rise drove Fadi to action. In 2012, he left the priesthood to co-found the organisation Basmeh & Zeitooneh (B&Z), which supports Syrian refugees in Lebanon and Turkey. As Fadi and his co-founder are from Syria, they are able to build trust with refugee communities because they understand the local context and traditions.
Using his Malala Fund grant, Fadi helped Syrian refugee girls continue their education and access quality education by offering retention support and advocating for the removal of barriers to their education. Through retention support programmes in their learning centres, B&Z teaches Syrian refugee girls Arabic, English, math, science, literacy and Turkish to prepare them to reenrol in formal education. With B&Z, Fadi also researches the barriers preventing refugee children from learning and publishes reports with recommendations for policymakers and international stakeholders to address these changes.
Fadi is working with his fellow Lebanese Education Champions to develop lessons for the digital learning platform Tabshoura in a Box aimed at helping refugee students in middle school pass the Brevet exam, a national exam students need to take to continue with secondary education.