Hello Changemakers! Maryam + Nivaal
We are so excited for you all to meet Maryam and Nivaal, Canadian twins trailblazing to make a difference. At just 8 years old they began organizing in their community to make a difference. Today these 15-year-old sisters host a Vlog - The World with MNR - where they use their YouTube channel to raise awareness about social issues. They recently interviewed Malala Yousafzai and Justin Trudeau about gender equality! Check out our interview and follow their Vlog! They are an inspiration to us all.. way to go girls!
What inspired you both to create "The World with MNR"?
We have been activists since we were eight years old, for numerous causes like girl's education, environmental rights, and eradicating poverty to name a few. We were involved around our school a lot along with community organizations like Me to We. However, when we reached grade 9, we realized that we needed to encourage other people to take action for the causes they care about as well. We met so many other people who cared about certain causes, but didn't know how to take action or what to do about them. We also saw so many problems presented in the media, but we didn't see solutions being told about them. So, our channel was basically inspired by the idea that everyone can have an impact, and the media can be used to connect viewers with the issues they care about and what they can do about them.
Can you tell us about “The World with MNR”?
The World With MNR, is our YouTube channel, and we launched it in the summer of 2016. We wanted to take our passion for changing the world and positively use social media to raise awareness for numerous different causes. Our channel is truly changing the face of journalism, by presenting our viewers with the problems that exist in the world and what our viewers can do to solve them. We have covered philanthropic events such as the Social Good Summit in New York City, WE Day Toronto, events organized by the Blue Dot Movement like David Suzuki's visit to Toronto and much more. We have launched a series on how to achieve the Global Goals and have dedicated different episodes to each of the different goals. Recently, we have done film reviews for two documentaries at the Human Right's Watch Film Festival as well, to raise awareness for the causes they highlighted. We have also covered events that we run like our recent International Women's Day conference at our school. Our latest video was a vlog of our day joining Malala on her Girl Power Trip to Ottawa to interview her and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about gender equality and girl's education. We want to encourage the youth around the world to play a positive role in their society and recognize that their age, gender, race or class does not define their potential to help others. We are doing a lot of work in our community and around our school right now to make a difference, but know that inspiring others to make a positive difference for the causes they care about, will make our work much more meaningful.
Can you share with us your favorite experience that has come from your project?
We feel like our YouTube channel has given us many opportunities to connect with incredible individuals in different organizations like the WE movement, Girl Up, the Malala Fund, the United Nations Foundation, TIFF, Human Right's Watch and much more. There are so many amazing experiences we have had with our channel and are always so happy to meet other people who are making a difference. However, our favorite experience has definitely been going to Ottawa to join Malala Yousafzai for her Girl Power Trip stop to Canada and interviewing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Malala. It was surreal, incredible and truly made us recognize that our work was having a positive impact. The Malala Fund had discovered more about our work through our channel, and so it was part of the reason why we were able to receive such an amazing opportunity.
Who is your hero and why?
Our hero is the Pakistani Cricketer turned Politician/Philanthropist, Imran Khan. We feel like there are very few people who are as dedicated to making a difference as he is, and we aspire to be as committed as him throughout our own lives to make a difference. Imran Khan has built two cancer hospitals which give free treatment to the poor in Pakistan and is building the third hospital of its kind. He has also established Namal University in a remote area of Pakistan to give quality education to the students who cannot afford it. In addition, he launched the Billion Tree Tsunami campaign in which he mobilized local communities, youth and the public sector to plant trees for sustainability in Pakistan. Finally, he is the leader of a political party, whose mission is to bring positive change in the country. Imran has been doing all this work and more for over twenty years after retiring from cricket and is continuing his philanthropic and political work for the people of his country because he believes in helping the people of his nation and bringing justice for Pakistanis. We see him as an example for others and in 2015, we had a chance to meet him in person to give him a donation for his charitable organization.
What do you think kids today should do to make our world a better place?
We feel like kids should get as involved as possible in local causes around their community to make our world a better place. This is one of the most important first steps in a journey that could lead the kids to changing the world in the future, because it helps them realize the joy of helping others from a young age. Many people wait until they are older to make a difference, but volunteering at local charities and organizations, and learning to empathize with those who need their help will allow kids to grow up to be caring adults. We ultimately need more people who are compassionate and who care for others to make this world a place of peace, equality and acceptance. One of the best places to start, is somewhere they can easily access and will be able to spend a lot of time - in their community.
What is your favorite subject in school? Why?
Although we enjoy all of our school subjects (and learning in general), if we had to choose one school subject that we enjoy the most it would have to be history. We love learning about our past, and exploring examples of how humans got to where they are today. We also think that we are living history, and some day, the choices that humans make today, will be written about in the textbooks of future generations. We feel as though, when we learn about the past, it helps us develop ideas about the future. For us, it's a way to determine what things we can do to make the world a better place, considering what worked in the past and what mistakes we shouldn't repeat. History is also like a really long story, and there are so many missing perspectives (like those of the underprivileged and women) and that drives us to try and ensure that all perspectives are taken into consideration today. Especially in the social media age and the digital age that we live in today, that's not only possible, but we feel like it is our responsibility. We have to use these platforms to do our part in making this world a better place.
What is your favorite book? Why?
It is really hard to choose a book that is our favorite because we read so much, however, if there is one book that we have learned the most from, it would be War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy. We didn't know about a book without a happy ending before we encountered War and Peace, but it showed us what the world is really like. Things don't usually go the way that we hope during our lives, but that does not mean that we cannot adapt to what life gives us to make sure that we live our lives to our truest potential. Tolstoy also presented very clear ideas about the dangers of war and the lack of peace in the world during Napoleon's era. Those ideas, we feel, we can learn from even in this day and age because they teach the importance of staying peaceful and staying away from violence. It is incredible how ahead of its time the book was and that has really stayed with us - making it our favorite book.
Do you know a changemaker kiddo? We'd love to hear from you! Send us a message!