Young Citizen: Ilford teen stands up against prejudice as Anne Frank guide
PUBLISHED: 07:00 18 December 2019 | UPDATED: 10:02 19 December 2019
An Ilford teenager who jumped at the chance to be a guide for a new Anne Frank exhibit is this week's Recorder/Rotary Young Citizen Award nominee.
When his teacher at Caterham High School asked for volunteers to learn about Anne Frank and to become a peer guide for the new exhibit at Redbridge Library, Muhammad Abubakar, 13 from Ilford, was the first to volunteer.
Abu, as he is known to his friends and family, loves history and is particularly interested in the First and Second World Wars, but he didn't know a lot about Anne Frank before he started attending workshops with anti-prejudice charity Anne Frank Trust UK, who nominated him for Young Citizen.
Anne Frank was the same age as Abu when she kept her famous diary while hiding from the Nazis in Amsterdam and Abu said the process to learn her story and Hitler's rise to power was intense but also eye-opening. He said: "I really didn't know about real prejudice and how she suffered before I learned her story.
"We should always stand up for people who are being prejudiced against.
Abu said spreading Anne Frank's story is a key to understanding some of the same divisions that affect us today.
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He said: "History has shown us time and time again and we need to learn from things like this and not repeat those same mistakes."
Caterham history teacher Leyla Kemal-Hilmi said Abu took to being a peer guide with great maturity and all his classmates felt a kinship with Anne Frank.
She said: "Like him, she was at one point attending school, spending time with friends and family in a way teenagers do today.
"With the support of the Anne Frank Trust sessions students gained a greater understanding of the brutality of the Nazi regime in Germany and its subsequent spread across Europe. They were appalled at what they discovered."
As part of being a peer guide Abu walked Councillor Judith Garfield and the Mayor of Redbridge Cllr Zulfiqar Hussain through the exhibit.
His dad, Muhammad Akeel Ahmad, said Abu was so excited to be a peer guide he couldn't stop talking about it when he got home.
The Young Citizen series celebrates the young people of Redbridge. Each month a winner is chosen from the nominees, the finalists will be invited to the Mayor's Community Awards night in March and the overall winner will be announced.
The winner will receive £100 from Redbridge Rotary Club and will, along with the runner-up, go through to the national Young Citizen final run by Rotary International in Great Britain and Ireland. You can nominate any person from Redbridge, as long as they are under 25, by emailing email@example.com.