The Akhlaquna Award is an initiative introduced by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser in 2017. As a Qatar Foundation initiative, Akhlaquna aims to encourage the practice of universal and inclusive moral behaviour. The annual award recognises those who exemplify great moral character through initiating projects that serve their community and beyond.
This year’s three finalists comprise of passionate, young people who are seeking to create real change rooted in values. Nutripedia is an educational platform that aims to enrich scientific content in the Arabic language, created by sisters Maha Ghassan Hommos, Rama Ghassan Hommos, and Dana Ghassan Hommos. QLA Plant Clinic & Research Center, created by Ibrahim Abdulrahman Al Hoori, Omar Hassan Al Naimi, and Sunny Joseph, aims to find innovative solutions to reduce global warming and pollution through research and awareness. Strong Muslim Girls App is a friendly and safe alternative to social networking sites that helps young girls enhance their values, created by Alaa Mohammed Altass, Maryam Saleh Alyafei, and Fatima Muhsin.
Q Life interviewed the three finalists to learn more about their experience creating their impactful projects.
Tell us the inspiration behind your project?
Nutripedia: I wanted to provide scientific evidence to help people improve their diets through an Instagram page, and to use Arabic articles as references instead of translating English articles. But, to my surprise, I could not find a single website that offered evidence-based articles in Arabic.
So, after I discovered this gap, the creation of this website came from the sense of duty I felt towards my community, and the fact I had the skills to do it.
Plant Clinic and Research Center: Our project intends to educate the people of Qatar and beyond about the importance of plants in our lives. We want people to understand that we rely on them for food, water, the air we breathe, our weather and climate, and so on. We want people to learn about the plants and their needs so that we can take care of them.
The QLA Plant Clinic and Research Center aims to give the plants the respect they deserve. We will treat them when they need attention. We will do surgery and treat their diseases as if they are humans.
It is one of the teachings of Islam that whoever plants a tree and takes care of it till it bears fruit will be rewarded. These are the words we go by.
Strong Muslim Girls App: We draw inspiration in our project from the values of our Islamic religion and the societal need to raise awareness of the importance of choosing useful content through social media sites and to avoid the negative effects that may be caused by excessive use of social media. We seek to promote Islamic values among students and spread awareness of the concept of electronic caution.
How does it feel to be a finalist for the Akhlaquna Award?
Nutripedia: After all these years of hard work, it feels amazing to be seen, heard, and appreciated.
Plant Clinic and Research Center: We feel very proud of ourselves for taking this journey. It helped us to self-invent. Our way of life took a turn in a positive direction due to our Akhlaquna journey. We hope we are becoming role models for students from our school and throughout the country.
Strong Muslim Girls App: We feel proud to be in the finalists and we hope that our voice will reach the various segments of society and we look forward to publishing our application to be a safe alternative to social networking sites.
What has been the most challenging part of your experience? How were you able to overcome it?
Nutripedia: Since I’ve studied in English, the most challenging part was learning nutrition and scientific vocabulary in the Arabic language. I was able to overcome this with the help of my father, who studied medicine in both languages – Arabic and English – in addition to my own reading.
Plant Clinic and Research Center: Creating plans was much easier than implementing them. Conducting scientific research that leads to real-world solutions was very difficult. Our science teachers helped us by being so generous with their knowledge and time. We were also able to collaborate with Qatar University and QF’s Qur’anic Botanic Garden to achieve some of our research and activities.
Strong Muslim Girls App: The main challenge was how to transfer the students’ ideas and perceptions of the application from the idea stage to reality. We initially designed the application on the PowerPoint programme. We had several meetings with specialists to prepare application until we were able to program the application and it became ready for use and was published among the students.
What is something you hope people take away from your project?
Nutripedia: Believing in the power of knowledge can save lives.
Plant Clinic and Research Center: We hope that the people of Qatar and the world look at plants with respect and treat them as an integral part of our ecosystem. We hope that people end the culture of “use and throw away”.
Strong Muslim Girls App: We aspire to create a generation of strong girls powered with their Islamic faith, knowledge and work. We hope that the students will benefit from the application in all areas of their lives and use their time in a useful way by organising their daily tasks, performing religious duties, developing their talents, and promoting awareness of the concept of electronic caution and the use of smart devices in line with our Islamic values.
If someone was thinking of applying for the Akhlaquna Award next year, what advice would you give them?
Nutripedia: I would advise them to truly believe in themselves, and to work hard.
Plant Clinic and Research Center: If you are part of Akhlaquna, you should work on projects that you believe in. You should consider yourself as change makers or agents of change. Start with a simple project that can have a great impact on young generations. “Be the change that you want to see in the world”.
Strong Muslim Girls App: We would like to tell them to take the initiative and present any idea they deem useful to the community. The presence of such awards contributes to creating a generation that is aware of its responsibility to bring about positive change and spread good morals among members of the community.