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On Tuesday, 22 March 2016, Human Appeal International Australia hosted its 9th Annual Year 12 Muslim Achievement Awards in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide over the weekend. Students who achieved an ATAR score of 90% or above in 2015 were encouraged to register for the awards. Various respected members of the community, leaders, politicians and businesses attended ceremonies in the three cities, acknowledging the amazing efforts of these high achieving students. A total of one hundred and thirty-five students, twenty-nine more than last year, were honoured for their hard work and rewarded with a certificate of recognition, a tablet-notebook and various other prizes.

The ceremony in Sydney acknowledged a total of sixty-seven students, with Omar Al-Jamal as the master of ceremonies on the night. Attendees included NSW Shadow Minister for Education Jihad Dib MP, Shadow Minister for Multiculturalism Sophie Cotsis MLC, Deputy Mayor of Canterbury Councillor Khodr Saleh, and other distinguished guests. The Grand Mufti of Australia, Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed and NSW Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli MP both extended their apologies. The night opened with a Quranic recitation by award recipient, Riad Naanai, followed by the translation read out by another recipient Aishah Ali. Human Appeal’s director, Bashar Al-Jamal welcomed guests and explained why investing in education is an important strategy to enhancing the sustainability and growth of communities. Various speeches were given by Jihad Dib MP, Sophie Cotsis MLC, Dr Zachariah Matthews from Deen Academy, Mona Abdel-Fattah from the Australian International Academy and Dr Belal Aly, a sponsor from Berala Dental Clinic. Visiting scholar Dr Abdullah Aljohani from Madinah University also conveyed his congratulations and well wishes to the students and their families. Students were presented their certificates and gifts by local sponsors. Award recipients Mashaal Hamayun and Omar Elrich both spoke passionately about their achievements and the dedicated focus that it required. Muhammad Elhajje, a current student at the University of Sydney spoke movingly about his participation in Human Appeal’s 2016 Aspiring Leaders Umrah Tour which included helping to distribute much needed aid to Syrian refugees in Jordan. Overall, the night was a fantastic opportunity for parents and the community to celebrate with joy in the proud achievements of these students.

In Melbourne, the event acknowledged sixty-one students. The ceremony was MC’d by Noor Abou-Zeid and opened with Quranic recitation by Abdul Rahman Malas. In attendance were federal member for Wills Kelvin Thomson MP, Moreland Mayor Samantha Ratnam, Labor candidate Peter Khalil and other dignitaries. Sheikh Rabih Baytie, Human Appeal’s Melbourne branch manager welcomed guests and spoke about the importance of education and giving back to the community. Other speakers included Dr Aladin Zayegh from MCCA, Bayram Aktepe from the Islamic Council of Victoria and Umar Batchelor from BAILP. A number of videos were shown including one which featured AFL footballer Bachar Houli and his role in inspiring and motivating students. Students were similarly awarded their certificates and gifts by local sponsors. Award recipients Alisha Rawal and Yusuf Hassan both delivered eloquent speeches about achievement and the importance of continuing education life-long.

In Adelaide, seven students were likewise awarded certificates and gifts sponsored by local sponsors. Branch manager of Human Appeal’s Adelaide office, Ali Kadir MC’d the event. The ceremony was opened with the recitation of the Quran by university student and Umrah participant, Abdul Salam Hamid. Annabel Digance, representing the Premier of South Australia Jay Weatherill spoke on the night as well as Imam Ensar Cutahija from the Adelaide City Mosque. Sounds of Light Adelaide 2015 nasheed artist Izzat Mehedi sang a song which he wrote specifically for the event. Abdel Rahman Bassal, senior manager with SA Digital Telehealth Network spoke about the importance of coupling religious knowledge with academic knowledge in order to help change the world for the better. Shihab Siddiquee, founder of Sace Simplified, spoke and encouraged the schools and students present to get behind his program which helps students through the confusion and prepares them for life after year 12. University of South Australia student, Abdul Salam Hamid reflected on his participation of the 2016 Aspiring Leaders Umrah Tour.

Human Appeal congratulates all the high achieving students as well as acknowledges the generous support of the businesses and organisations that sponsored the 9th Annual Year 12 Muslim Achievement Awards in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

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