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A black-and-white headshot of a man with short, dark hair and a full beard extending several inches below his chin. He wears a dark-colored button-down shirt. There are three graphic circles behind him: one teal, one light blue and one white.

Wael Haffar Habbal

Columbia University Scholars 2022-2023

Role

Community Leader and Director, The Syrian and Greek Youth Forum

Location

SYRIA & GREECE

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Biography

Wael Haffar Habbal is a Syrian asylee living in Greece who is fostering active political engagement among Greece’s migrant communities and reshaping the narratives that portray refugees as victims rather than leaders. He co-founded The Syrian Greek Youth Forum (SGYF) in 2018, a community-based organization that brings together artists, activists, and academics to advocate for human rights and to support social equality in Greece. Wael’s organization provides award-winning cultural programs and professional development opportunities to migrants and refugees including the Active Citizens Project, the Athens Food Collective, and the Initiative on Workplace Training, an initiative that links job-seeking refugees with employment opportunities. Working in collaboration with the Athenian government and the Onassis Cultural Center, the largest cultural center in Greece, Wael has also organized cultural festivals to celebrate and promote cultural diversity. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Wael’s organization worked in partnership with public health organizations to donate 50,000 surgical masks to the Greek Ministry of Health.

Wael is a member of the Solidarity Fields Farmers Association and a member of the Trojan DAO community, the first blockchain organization for the democratization of art in Greece. He also works as an interpreter, a cultural mediator and a caregiver for unaccompanied minors. Wael was a member of the 2020 class of the Obama Foundation Leaders program in Europe.