Little brave heart by Iness Belleili, Algeria

My name is Shahine, I was nine and in fourth grade when I had my first crush, a girl named Zayna; we were classmates and I was secretly admiring her very much. Zayna was a very cute girl with big black eyes and fair skin. She used to be a ballet dancer with excellent marks in class. This combination made her so popular at our school. One day, we were about to have a reading session and our teacher was very tough towards people who forget their books. I never did, until that one day came when I gave Zayna my book because she  told me that she forgot hers and was afraid of being punished by the teacher. The teacher asked us to open our books and start reading a given text. I was freaking out that I would be punished but I couldn’t tell anyone that . She said with a scary voice, “Who didn’t bring his book? Raise your hands because you will be punished. I was so scared to raise my hand but I had to anyways because I had no choice and I couldn’t let Zayna get punished. I raised my hand and the teacher asked, “did you forget your book?” I  answered, “Yes Madam.” She said, “and whose book is that?” I looked at my desk and there was a book thrown by Nina, who’s another classmate of mine,  Nina was a very shy girl with messy hair and everyone at school used to make fun of her and call her ‘freaky Nina ‘. Nina stood up and told the teacher that I had left my book with her and she is the one who had forgotten hers. She immediately gave her hand to the teacher to receive a hit. The teacher asked me to sit down and she punished Nina. The whole class was laughing at her and so did my beautiful, cute Zayna. It made me feel so bad for Nina. I was astonished, I felt very stupid and superficial. How I was so busy trying to get the attention of Zayna and impressed by her beauty while there was Nina who was secretly looking at me. I got my very first lesson in life that day: that whomever loves you will make sacrifices for you, will try to protect you, and stay by your side in the hard moments. That physical appearance may blind your sight from meeting that one person who truly cares about you. You may lose the moon while being so busy chasing rocks !  
This is just one example of the important work produced YaLa’s citizen journalists, a program funded by the European Union’s Peacebuilding Initiative in order to enable young leaders from across the Middle East and North Africa to document and share their experiences of the region.

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