By Chukwudi Nweje
For constantly working to better the lot of people in their communities, 10 young people from across Africa were recently declared winners of the 2020 edition of the Future Africa Leaders Foundation (FALF) Awards.
The winners received different cash prizes, ranging from $10,000 to $25,000, and were challenged to further their projects in their various communities and countries.
The winners, who emerged from an initial list of 30 nominees from 20 African countries, include Gwei Michael Wawa, a 22-year-old social activist from Cameroon; Victor Emeka Mba, 22, from Nigeria; Christian Majeed Kwesi, 23, from Ghana, Elsa Cethia Milandou from Congo Brazzaville; 22-year-old Mary Mukeba Julius from South Sudan; Tebogo Moroe, 23, from South Africa; 23-year-old Michelle Mumba from Zambia; Avante Susan Mafusire, 24, from Zimbabwe; 18-year-old Mayamiko Banda from Malawi; and Aicha Elhaj Mahamat, 20, from Chad.
Wawa, who won the star prize, received $25,000 to boost his interventions, while the rest received $10,000 each for similar projects in their various countries.
FALF is an initiative established by founder and president of Love World Incorporated, otherwise known as Christ Embassy, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, under the auspices of Chris Oyakhilome Foundation International (COFI). It seeks to identify, foster, and celebrate young African leaders making a positive impact in their communities. All winners were rewarded for their efforts at improving the wellbeing of people in their communities.
Wawa, the star prize winner, is the proprietor of Youth Empowerment Through Science and Technology (YEST), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) that impacted over 18,000 young people in his native Cameroon.
He also partnered with Nervtek, a tech-based NGO, to sponsor and organize a community hhallenge where 200 students from five tertiary institutions in Cameroon showcased their skills through design and implementation of novel hardware solutions like power banks, smart dustbins, automatic temperature/humidity regulator, soil moisture detector sensor, a robotic arm, and a metal detector. The top three winners received incentives worth over $1,000 each and accessories to upgrade their inventions.
He created a digital health service platform called YEST-IN DHS, which provides 24-hour online free consultation and supports services for hospitals, health centres, and non-profit organisations.
During the COVID-19 lockdown in Cameroon, he instituted a three-month training project called ICT4Teens that trained 150 teenagers and equipped them in media and information literacy, robotics, web development, programming and computational literacy, among other things.
Mba, the young Nigerian winner, founded WeBuild Africa, an NGO that coordinates and utilises the creative abilities of rural youth for the improvement of community life. He spearheaded the construction of 10 school libraries and donated over 3,000 textbooks and stationery to 10 community secondary schools in Lagos State.
During the COVID-19 lockdown when schools were shut, he launched the ‘MEV Mobile Tutor Finder qpplication that enabled 500 students to find tutors and arrange tutorial sessions. He also raised funds to provide Internet data services and educational materials for over 1,000 out-of-school children. He collaborated with a network of grocery stores, local food retailers and individuals to embark on a daily food drive project catering for and sustaining 500 vulnerable families over a period of three months. He initiated a six-month funding campaign in July 2020 in partnership with Sunesis Farms, under the Nigerian Farmers’ Association, securing 15 plots of arable land for the production of 3,000 kilogrammes of rice, to provide subsidies, especially for the most vulnerable populations.
This on-going mega agro-project has also gainfully employed over 70 rural youth and is projected to be an advantage over the anticipated food crises by January 2021. All other winners equally impacted their communities in various forms.
Speaking at the presentation, the project coordinator, Dr. Jumoke Akinsanya, explained that the non-religious project, which has been running for the past eight years is open to all youths between the age of 16 and 23 years and that in addition to providing financial help, it also offers training and mentorship opportunities to the participants.
In his closing remarks, Mr. Sylvester Egbodaghe noted that the foundation was instituted by Pastor Oyakhilome, who is also the grand patron of FALF Awards, because of his belief in the young people of the African continent.
“Pastor Chris believes in the young people of this continent and that is why he has committed enormous resources in the last eight years to building these young men and women who are the future of the continent. Many young people who never thought they have something to offer have been discovered by the foundation and we should all encourage these winners,” he said.