A Humanitarian Activist, an inspiring International Keynote Speaker and the founder and president of SmallWorld Foundation
Born in Syria and raised in Lagos-Nigeria, Salam witnessed, at a young age, the extreme inequalities that people and children were living in. Her heart ached every time she watched a poor child roam the streets of Lagos exposed to different kinds of dangers, lacking the basic necessities in life – physical health, emotional support and wellbeing. As she got older she grew into more unease when she came across statistics from the UNICEF. Salam discovered that a child dies every five minutes as a result of violence. An estimated 150 million children worldwide are engaged in child labor, 40 million youth under the age of 15 suffer violence, abuse and neglect. She found those numbers to be appalling, and gave a promise to herself to work towards helping underprivileged children and support, as much as she could, in creating a fairer world
Salam’s philanthropic journey started during her university years in Beirut. She followed her passion and started volunteering and teaching at an orphanage in Mount Lebanon. She soon realized that she was actually learning more from the children than she probably taught them. She learnt resilience, strength, hope and gratitude. She was surprised by how much this experience has given her and how much it nourished her soul.
This experience was the foundational building block in Salam’s journey. When she moved to Abu Dhabi, Salam founded the SmallWorld Foundation in 2011. Her aim was to support children in need globally. She put it best when she said, “Our primary focus is education and training. We believe that’s the best way to give a child his/her independence as they reach adulthood, it makes them accountable for decisions and actions they may make”. Since SmallWorld’s launch, thousands of children from more than 60 charities, in more than 45 countries, have been supported.
Salam took a step further to raise more awareness and inspire people to take action and help children in need; Salam began her journey as a worldwide keynote speaker in 2015. She spoke about the importance of education to children at INSEAD Graduate School in 2015, and at Art of Dachan in 2016. Salam also participated in UNWTO’s first Global Youth Tourism Summit in Sorrento-Italy, where was invited alongside worldly renowned keynote speakers to give a Masterclass about peace and sustainable development to dignitaries and more than 100 youth from more than 60 countries around the world. Salam took part in Parenthood’s “The Unconference” in Abu Dhabi alongside 60 speakers and writers from around the globe, Her topic was: “Beyond Education, How to Raise Global Citizens”. As a humanitarian activist, Salam represented SmallWorld Foundation at key events with Ambassadors, Royalty, and Public Figures who were able to increase the exposure of her cause. She also appeared on major media platforms including CNN, where she urged people and communities to take action to stop child labor, child slavery and exploitation. In 2017, Salam was recognized as one of the 100 Most Influential Lebanese Figures around the Globe by being featured in the book “The 100” that shone the light on some extraordinary Lebanese individuals globally.
As for the future, Salam would like to see SmallWorld Foundation operated as a sustainable entity, which can run professionally without her presence or the presence of any particular person. That’s when she will know that she has done her job right and left a legacy behind.
Salam continues on her journey of raising awareness and bringing important issues to everyone’s attention. She has the passion, the dedication and the experience to create change and expand her reach and influence. She hopes as more people get involved, every little action will have a great impact on many lives across the world.
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