Syrian refugee Maya Ghazal was appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency in 2021 after 4 years of committed support.
In 2015, Maya Ghazal fled Damascus and aged 16 started a new life in the UK under a family reunification scheme. Unable to speak the language she taught herself English and overcame numerous barriers to secure a place in school to restart her interrupted studies. Through a combination of hard work and tenacity she is now is studying for a degree in Aviation Engineering and Pilot Studies at University in London.
First female Syrian refugee pilot
At the age of 21, Maya fulfilled her dream of becoming the first female Syrian refugee pilot and now has her sights set on progressing from a private pilot licence to becoming a commercial airline pilot. Through sharing her own inspiring story Maya advocates for refugee inclusion, access to education and job opportunities, and counters negative stereotyping of refugees. In 2019 Maya was a Co-Sponsor of the Education session at the first ever Global Refugee Forum.
A powerful advocate for refugees
Maya has delivered inspiring speeches across the world to audiences of school children to statesmen, private sector to royalty, including at the WE Day youth empowerment forum, the Global Social Forum on Education, the Palace of Westminster, the WISE Summit and the United Nations. In 2019 Maya gave a powerfully inspiring speech at TEDxPalaisDesNationsWomen in which she smashed stereotypes and offered five solutions to better understanding refugees and why we should invest in their limitless potential.
Maya has also undertaken extensive media interviews, written articles and been involved in various social media campaigns and activities. For World Refugee Day 2019, Maya cooked up a storm with fellow UNHCR supporter Stanley Tucci for Buzzfeed's 'Proper Tasty' and they reconnected again for World Refugee Day 2020.
Maya Ghazal's interview at the WE Day youth empowerment forum
Cate Blanchett at UK Parliament for a World Refugee Day event with refugees, politicians and fellow actors including JJ Bola, Colin Firth, Matthew Horne, David Morrissey, Maya Ghazal and Theo James (2018)
Education, Aspiration, Compassion | Maya Ghazal | TEDxPlaceDesNationsWomen