The young leaders bringing a smile to the unhappiest countries on earth

The annual World Happiness Report was published today, ranking Norway as the happiest country on earth and declaring that some of the world’s poorest countries are also the most miserable in which to live. But One Young World ambassadors are working to bring hope and optimism in even the most challenging environments, showing how young leadership can bring about positive change.

Here we celebrate the young leaders who are trying to bring a smile to the nations listed by the United Nations report as the least happy in the world.

#155 and last: Central African Republic

Cedric Ouangolo has set up ‘Action Secours & Espoir’ (Action for Help & Hope) to bring education to people living in refugee camps. It also offers healthcare, art therapy and youth empowerment lessons. Ouangolo, 29, who attended One Young World’s 2015 Summit in Bangkok, has also founded the ‘Nuggets of Peace’ project to educate tensions between Christian and Muslim communities in Central African Republic. “I am most passionate about children and youth community development, specifically equal access to quality education and opportunities for children and youth who have been exposed to war,” he says. “I want to be the new leader in my country on whom people can rely.”

#154: Burundi

Jean Paul Nshimirimana is a journalist in Burundi who founded the Future Leaders Radio programme in 2014, promoting youth leadership and English language skills by giving a platform to youth speakers who have been successful in their fields and can inspire young listeners. Nshimirimana, 30, a One Young World ambassador who attended the 2016 Summit in Ottawa, hosts the programme in the studio. The Future Leaders Radio programme has a mission, he says, “to awaken youth to self-reliance, awareness, confidence and be a catalyst for positive change in society.”

#153: Tanzania

Petrider Paul, 23, is fighting gender inequality in Tanzania as a co-founder of Youth for Change Tanzania, which is tackling the scourges of child marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM). Young women who have survived such ordeals and come into the programme are given instruction in working with Batik (African fabric), soap-making, and other entrepreneurial skills. “My goal is to work for girls’ rights until gender equality is reached,” says Paul, a One Young World ambassador who attended the Ottawa Summit in 2016.

Wilhelm Oddo, Director of Niwezeshe Lab, teaches coding and entrepreneurship to young people aged between ten and 19, and he does for free. “Teaching children coding will enable them to blend logical and creative thoughts to solve problems in the country,” says Oddo, 29, who has now assisted more than 200 young people. “When a young child realises that they have the power to create something it opens up a whole world of creative expression that would otherwise be closed to them.” Oddo attended the One Young World 2015 Summit in Bangkok.


#152: Syria

Hani Al Moulia used his passion for photography to document his life in Syrian refugee camps over three years. When he was in refugee camps in Lebanon he ran multi-arts courses that taught Syrian children drama, music, photography and English. Classes went on five hours a day, six days a week. “These classes are intended to boost their confidence and help them adjust to their new community,” says Al Moulia, who attended the One Young World Summit in Ottawa in 2016.

#151: Rwanda

Isabelle Kamariza is the founder of Solid’Africa, an organisation dedicated to improving living conditions in public hospitals in Rwanda. It supplies food to 300 patients a day, as well as supporting people with medical expenses and getting home from hospital. “By leading by example I hope to create a social enterprise model that can be replicated throughout the country, region and Internet,” says Kamariza, 31, who was at the One Young World Summit in Bangkok in 2015. “What I wish to prove is that limited human and financial resources are not an excuse to do nothing.”