From Seun Akioye in New York
In a night of glamour and inspirational speeches, three changemakers were honored with Global Goal awards at Goalkeepers annual event held in New York. Editor-at Large, Seun Akioye was there…
When Eden Tadesse first went to the refugee camp at the border of her country Ethiopia and South Sudan, she wanted to teach those she regarded as underprivileged and uneducated the basics of reading and writing. But a surprise was waiting for her.
“I found out any of them are educated and very talented. But there was a problem of opportunities, connecting them to the jobs that matched their skills,” Tadesse said. That was when her mission changed and she founded INVICTA, a company which today has expanded into 90 countries and helped at least 1,800 refuges find jobs while 900 others have been educated through her e-learning platform.
Tadesse was among the three innovators and change makers who were honored by the Goalkeepers Global Change Awards in New York on Tuesday.
The Goalkeepers, led by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) tracks the progress made on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) through an annual report authored by Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates.
In 2023, the report titled: “ Imagine a World” speaks about seven innovations that can save at least two million mothers and children by 2030.
Other winners announced at an event held at Jazz at Lincoln centre in New York include Ashumartha Agbornyenty, a Cameroonian midwife who is helping thousands of other young midwives find a meaning in the profession thereby helping thousands of women who needed help and reducing the rate of maternal and child mortality in her country and the Farmlink project which was started by Ben Collier, Aidan Reilly and James Kanoff, college students who helped to reach millions of Americans with food by linking the farmers and consumers during the COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.
The awards ceremony had over 1000 people in attendance and was hosted by best-selling author and award winning journalist Elaine Welteroth and had in attendance, Melinda French Gates, Olympic swimmer Yusra Mardini, actor David Oyelowo and representatives from governments and agencies around the world.
Ashumartha, 24 who emerged as the Changemaker Award winner was disturbed by the rate of midwives in Cameroon which was one to 100 pregnant women founded the Mum and Baby Foundation which trains and provides advocacy to midwives and mothers in Cameroon.
“My work in Cameroon is very important as the country is currently facing some political crisis and many women deliver their children in the bush. So we intervened by providing birth commodities and we partner with the hospitals in the Southwest regions and provide medications.
“ When I got into midwifery, there were no role models and I was very demotivated , everyone told me there is no future for me in the country but I decided to stay there and shine the light for others. I said if I leave what about the others coming behind me.
“ So far, I have been able to inspire 185 young midwives to stay in the profession in the country and about 40 are under my direct mentorship,” she told InfactNG in a side meeting in New York.
Tadesse is the 2023 honoree of the Progress Award for helping thousands of refugees with training and employment through her platform Invicta.
“ African countries need to be more inclusive and enact policies and laws that would help refugees on the path to citizenship of the country they are in,” she told InfactNG.
“The Ethiopian government believe the refugees are merely using the country as a path to the middle east , but when I spoke to these refugees, they said no, they want to stay in the country and build their lives. And they are very talented and that is what Ethiopia needs. I want to see a change in this policy, maybe 10 years from now, I will be making the laws for these refugees as I have seen their challenges,” Tadesse said.
She said women and children face the most challenge in the camps especially in WASH. “ The men usually go out looking for work and other things so the women are majorly left behind and they face these challenges more,” she said.
“The 2023 Progress Award holds a deeply personal meaning to her, and not only validates the significance of my work but also serves as a powerful reminder of the potential for positive change through innovation and forward-thinking.
“The award amplifies my commitment to making a meaningful impact through the SDGs, to create a better tomorrow for generations to come,” she added.
The winner of this year’s Campaign Award is the Farmlink Project, a student-led nonprofit with approximately 600 volunteers aiming to help with the U.S.’s ongoing food insecurity issues.
Started in 2020 by college students, The Farmlink Project has been focused on two main goals: addressing food insecurity (which impacts around 40 million Americans every day) and transforming the globe’s high-emissions food system.
Since then, about 83 million meals have been given out by the project, which has also helped move more than 130 million lbs. of surplus food from farms to food banks.
“We would not be here today without the commitment of each collaborator who helped to shape our path, values, and mission,” they said in a statement.
Also recognised at the night with the Goalkeepers Voice award, was award winning singer and founder of the One Campaign, Bono for his incredible work in helping to solve some of the most pressing problems in the world.