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  • Writer's picture Surabhi Paraki

5 Young Leaders Leading The Way For Global Change

With each passing day, as we see all the various social struggles that people worldwide face, it becomes increasingly evident that a new wave of change is long due. It is a wave that is in its nascent stages and spearheaded by the current generation of youth. Youngsters worldwide are taking it upon themselves to create a better future for themselves that they wish for everyone to live in.

These five youth leaders are a few prominent ones among several others who have dedicated themselves to making their countries a better place to live in.

1) Madelle Kangha - Cameroon

A picture of Madelle Kangha.
Madelle Kangha. (UN)

Madelle Kangha is the Founder and President of JumpStart Academy Africa, a not-for-profit social enterprise that aims to transform Africa by repairing the continent's broken education system.

The Academy ensures inclusive and equitable quality education by working to improve learning outcomes for youth and supporting their personal and professional development.

JumpStart Academy Africa has trained over 500 students in Academic Achievement, Community Engagement, and Enterprise Formation since its inception in 2014. Through community engagement activities and summer camps, the Academy has also reached over 2500 students.

Kangha collaborated with her peer, Nigerian social entrepreneur Omotola Akinsola, to provide an alternate solution to the mediocre, insulated learning environments that are commonly offered.

They chose to co-found Jumpstart Academy Africa rather than simply build another schoolhouse to combat below-average literacy rates in the continent.

The Academy identifies and collaborates with existing schools in Cameroon and Nigeria and develops learning curricula that educate young people with skills that will help them be assets in any 21st-century job environment.

The Academy's education system cultivates analytical reasoning, socially responsible leadership, an entrepreneurial attitude to problem-solving, and community engagement through a student-centered and participatory learning approach, assisting numerous adolescents aged 14 to 18 in becoming valued contributors in the job market.

2) Inés Yábar - Peru

A picture of Inés Yábar.
Inés Yábar. (We Are Restless)

Inés Yábar, a Peruvian sustainability advocate, became active in plastic waste solutions early, asserting that she had a responsibility to this planet. Before graduating high school, she began volunteering with L.O.O.P. (Life Out Of Plastic), performing beach restoration projects, giving talks, and raising awareness.

She is one of the founders of TECHO, a non-profit organization committed to ending poverty in South America. She was a member of Peru's delegation to the COP25 deforestation negotiations last year. She is also a representative of the Youth Power Panel and the Senior Coordinator for Global Youth Power for Restless Development.

Inés contributed to the establishment of Makesense TV, a subscription-based service that provides individuals with factual, relevant information on COVID-19 daily. Although Makesense TV is headquartered in France, the service is now available in English to reach a wider audience. Inés Yábar's initiative aims to combat misinformation and a lack of services for vulnerable populations.

3) Zuriel Oduwole - USA

A picture of Zuriel Oduwole.
Zuriel Oduwole. (FB)

Zuriel Oduwole, born in California in 2002 to a Nigerian mother and a Mauritanian father, has become an inspiring and passionate advocate for girls' education throughout Africa, engaging with state leaders to develop legislation that promotes educational changes - including an end to child marriage.

As a girl's education activist, Zuriel speaks to in-school and out-of-school adolescents about the value of education, demonstrating what an educated girl may accomplish. She has now spoken with over 26,000 students from 14 countries, including Ethiopia, South Africa, Ghana, Tanzania, and Nigeria, and kids from the London Borough of Lambeth, Hidalgo in Mexico, and Georgia and California in the United States.

As a filmmaker, she created her first short documentary on the Ghana Revolution when she was nine years old as part of the History Channel-sponsored National History Day Competition. At the age of 12, she made her first full-length documentary film. She uses her skill to communicate important information about issues that plague society.

She has met with the leaders of Samoa, Jamaica, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Fiji, and the Marshall Islands to learn more about the consequences of climate change on their nations' education development and cooperate on a solution. At COP23, she gave a keynote speech about the direct impact of climate change on education in island countries.

4) Sameer Jha - USA

A picture of Sameer Jha.
Sameer Jha. (The Empathy Alliance)

After being bullied for being too feminine throughout elementary and middle school, Sameer Jha formed The Empathy Alliance at 14 to make schools safer for LGBTQ+ adolescents.

Sameer began by researching the school environment in 24 Bay Area schools and was dismayed to discover that the vast majority of LGBTQ+ children were constantly exposed to petty insults and bullying due to their gender identity and sexual orientation. Schools lacked programs to meet the needs of LGBTQ+ pupils, and teachers either ignored or contributed to the harassment.

Determined to make a difference, Sameer began with their previous middle school. The term "gay" was exclusively used as an insult. There were no programs to particularly safeguard LGBTQ+ children and LGBTQ+ themes were not featured in the curriculum. Sameer was able to enlist the support of their school's counselor, principal, and several teachers and student groups in their mission to improve the school.

Sameer was named the 2017 Oakland Pride Youth Grand Marshal and received a Congressional Silver Medal for their work with The Empathy Alliance. Sameer has been featured in The New York Times, NPR, MTV News, The New York Magazine, and Mercury News.

They are also a member of the Human Rights Campaign, GLSEN, The Tyler Clementi Foundation, Trikone, and the GSA Network, and also serve on the Mayor of Oakland's LGBTQ Task Force. Sameer has been recognized as one of the top ten trans young activists of color in America.

They were recently named on the 30 Under 30 list of international activists, which featured change-makers such as Malala. Sameer's ambition is to build an inclusive world in which all youngsters feel confident being themselves at school, effectively eliminating the necessity for The Empathy Alliance.

5) Udit Singhal - India

A picture of Udit Singhal.
Udit Singhal. (UN)

Udit Singhal is the creator of Glass2Sand, a zero-waste ecosystem and "no glass to landfills" campaign that tackles India's huge glass waste problem by crushing glass containers into the sand. At home, he noticed empty glass bottles that were no longer being collected for recycling or reuse - it was later determined that these bottles were being put into landfills, where they would not break down for a million years.

The New Zealand High Commissioner to India found the initiative worthy of a specialized grant based on Udit's pitch, and not merely because it was supported by unique Kiwi technology. On World Environment Day 2019, the then-17-year-old launched Glass2Sand.

The "Drink Responsibly, Dispose Responsibly" initiative has been tremendously successful, forming relationships with 16 diplomatic missions and hospitality organizations and enlisting the help of 160+ collection volunteer staff. 14,000+ glass bottles were saved from the garbage dump and broken into 8,400+ kg of high-grade silica sand.

Udit intends to use the modularity of his idea to clear Delhi and other parts of the country of discarded bottles through an ever-expanding volunteer network.


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Surabhi Paraki is a Journalism and Communications student at Jain University. She is also an activist and a content writer at the International Youths Organization for Peace and Sustainability.

Inputs and Edits by Sovena Ngeth.


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