Ambassador Spotlight: April 2021

 

One Young World Ambassadors are leading projects in every country of the world, creating substantial social impact across all 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Every month our Coordinating Ambassadors select someone from their region who has created significant social impact locally, regionally or even worldwide.

We are delighted to feature a selection of these exceptional young leaders below. If you would like to be considered, please reach out directly to your Coordinating Ambassador. Unsure who is your Coordinating Ambassador? See the breakdown of countries here.

 

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Andrea Gunnarsdóttir

Young Professional Women in Iceland

Young Professional Women in Iceland (UAK) continued their work towards strengthening the position and future of young women as leaders and members of the economy. On 27th February, UAK hosted their annual conference "From action to impact - be the change", focusing on promoting equal opportunities for all by encouraging women to pursue their goals and dreams. Joining them at the conference were extraordinary women who all shared in having used their work to fight for equality and who have made an impact in their field of work. UAK welcomed more than 100 young women at Harpa Concert Hall, and twice as many attended digitally. It was the first conference held in person in Iceland since Covid-19 pandemic started.

Alongside the Prime Minister of Iceland, Katrín Jakobsdóttir, One Young World Ambassadors delivered inspiring talks. Caritta Seppä, the co-founder and COO at Tespack, delivered the second keynote of the conference. It was not until she found herself surrounded by the right people that sparked her passion that she decided to leave her job to follow her dreams and created Tespack with the aim to improve the quality of life for people around the world through mobile energy solutions. Salam Al-Nukta the Founder and CEO of Change Makers spoke about how to face the challenges when becoming an entrepreneur and how to see the opportunities in difficult circumstances.

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Baris Koca

SDG Action Series - Allen & Overy

Baris is a lawyer at Allen & Overy in Amsterdam and specialises in corporate law. Inspired by the impact of the One Young World Community, Baris is dedicated to reducing the gap between the commercial world and the society that is key for achieving the SDGs. In light of the Decade of Action, Baris and his company are organising a series of workshops themed around the SDGs. During these workshops, topics such as diversity, sustainability, corporate responsibility, and mental health are discussed by professionals from a variety of backgrounds. The aim is to provide young professionals with new perspectives and ideas, but more importantly with accurate tools which will allow them to initiate changes within their own organisations. As a result, young professionals will be in a position to influence the strategy and business models of their organisations and together can create an environment where everyone feels supported and comfortable.

Besides the SDG Action Series, Allen & Overy in Amsterdam is committed to creating a more sustainable environment. Corporate responsibility and diversity are therefore important pillars of the company’s strategy. Allen & Overy Amsterdam has a number of working groups such as the Green team, the Pro Bono Community Investment team, and the Diversity & Inclusion teams, that all work together to achieve their ambitious global objectives.

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Bianca do Prado Reche

Refugio 343 & SKF Brazil

Brazilian organisation SKF, in partnership with Ambassador-led initiative Refugio 343, hired 2 Venezuelan refugees. This represents a new life opportunity for the new employees and their families, enabling them to move to a new home and finally establish their social economic autonomy in a different country. Not only did they leave Venezuela, but they also had to move from the north of Brazil, Roraima, to São Paulo in the south-east.

To make this happen, beyond simply finding employment, it was necessary to prepare a place for them to live and settle once they arrived in São Paulo. This is when Refugio 343 requested volunteers to help on that mission, and Bianca accepted the challenge to lead the interiorisation of the identified families. With the help of a network of volunteers, donors, and SKF colleagues, it was possible to rent two houses, fully furnish them, raise enough funds for their first month in São Paulo, and organise all bureaucratic demands after they arrived in under a month.

Image from the STEPwise project

Dr. George Leonard Msengi

Combating Childhood Obesity in Tanzania: StepWISE

Dr George Msengi is an experienced medical professional and health advocate, who is coordinating a project tackling childhood obesity for STEPwise in Tanzania. It began in the most populous city in East Africa, Dar Es Salaam, running activities in schools in the capital city.

To date, more than 3,000 school children have been engaged in the project, which has highlighted both over and under nutrition as the key health problems among young people in Tanzania. The project’s survey identified more than 10.9% of the study population were obese or overweight, and a troubling 34.6% were underweight. The project then implemented primary prevention techniques and awareness education. Reporting on the organisation's initiatives has seen substantial improvement in the student’s behaviour, recording significant decreases in consumption of unhealthy foods, and an uptake in healthy alternatives. Stepwise’s reports have been shared with the relevant government ministry for potential scale up and national adoption of the programme in all regions.

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Inès Seddiki

GHETT'UP

Inès is the founder of GHETT’UP, a grassroots organisation fostering social, economic, and environmental justice in the suburbs of Paris. It is a network of young changemakers working to challenge the predominant narrative around youth in the working-class neighbourhoods, especially those of immigrant descent.

GHETT’UP does so by building capacity, agency, and youth empowerment in the target communities. It also challenges leaders and decision-makers to drive rights and equality for this demographic. Since 2016, more than 5,000 youth have benefited from the organisation's programme.

Inès is also a journalist and directed the web documentary “Nos Daron.ne.s” about what it means to be a child of immigrant parents in France in 2021.

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María Alejandra Ramirez

Compaz Foundation

María is a Strategic Partnerships Officer for One Young World’s partner the Compaz Foundation. Compaz Foundation was created to honour the commitment made by President Juan Manuel Santos, upon receiving the 2016 Nobel Peace Prize, to devote the resources of the award to help the victims and contribute to peace-building and reconciliation in Colombia.

The Foundation contributes to the construction of a stable and lasting peace, through the strengthening of leaders in the territories most affected by conflict, giving them the appropriate tools and skills to rebuild the social fabric. Compaz promotes the consolidation of peace both at the national and international levels, supporting sustainable and inclusive development. To date, the Foundation has strengthened 175 leaders, 37 start-ups and 15 peace-building initiatives.

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Miloš Mirković

La Voix du Collège - Western Balkans in the context of EU Enlargement

Miloš, who works for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Montenegro, organised and hosted a high-level panel discussion on the Western Balkans at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium. The aim was to bring high-level speakers and to talk about the opportunities, challenges, and other important aspects of the enlargement policy of the EU concerning the Western Balkans.

The discussion focused specifically on Montenegro, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The team gathered high-level speakers who are stakeholders from politics and academia, including:

  • Federica Mogherini - Rector of the College of Europe and former EU High Representative
  • Srđan Darmanović - former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Montenegro
  • Tonino Picula - Member of the European Parliament
  • Ivan Vejvoda - permanent fellow at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna and former Senior Advisor on European integration to the Prime Minister of Serbia Zoran Đinđić

The panellists divulged experiences and expertise with the auditorium of College of Europe students, diplomatic staff, and other external guests.

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Mehmet Kalyoncu

Turkey Design Council

Mehmet is the Founding President of the Turkey Design Council, an organisation that aims to integrate social and economic development with design-oriented approaches. It promotes young designers, providing a basis for the production of qualified design, and creates design awareness for a better world.

Turkey Design Council participates in generating government policies that enable the growth of design awareness. The organisation aims to make the design activity accessible to all segments of society by managing the information and processes in a transparent and fair manner. This is achieved through a variety of programmes. This includes design education for children aged between 6 and 18 and managing a participatory design process titled the Creative Active Citizen Program. The Turkey Design Council also has provided a report to the Minister of Urbanism for the process of demilitarisation of urban areas and is managing a design-driven project to solve humanitarian problems such as the creation of a sustainable framework for cities hosting more than 5,000 refugees. These are just a few of the many impactful initiatives being driven by the organisation.

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Qais Al-Maqrashi

Youth Sada

Qais is the CEO of Youth Sada, an Omani youth organisation that designs and implements knowledge development programmes for young people, and manages social investment projects. The team is working to empower young people with future skills and link them to different labour markets through a wide range of training and youth programmes.

The Foundation's main fields of work include education and cognitive development, building youth capacities, entrepreneurship and innovation, specialised and interactive training, Youth Initiatives Centres, and educational student camps. The team of around 30 young leaders designs, prepares, organises, and implements youth programmes, forums, awareness campaigns, and community competitions. Primary community programmes involve the Youth Echo centre programme for Community Initiatives, a youth business centre that provides joint creative workspaces for the youth of Al Dhahirah Governorate, and works to incubate a group of distinguished youth initiatives at the governorate level. The Reading Family programme is a cultural gathering that seeks to instil a culture of reading in Omani society. This is just a snapshot of the organisation's work, and to date, it has provided more than 50 major programmes in which more than 100,000 youths from the Sultanate of Oman and the neighbouring countries have participated.

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Siddhaarth Sudhakaran

LonePack Buddy

Siddarth co-founded LonePack, a youth-run, non-profit that aims to make mental health accessible to all Indian youth, which was set up in 2016. Since then, it has conducted numerous campaigns, initiatives, and workshops, through which it has reached over 50,000 people across 8 cities in India.

The Covid-19 pandemic significantly worsened the mental health crisis in India. In response, the organisation launched LonePack Buddy, a website for people in need of emotional support to connect with qualified volunteers trained by mental health professionals through an anonymous online chat interface. To date, over 370 people have engaged in over 1,000 conversations on the platform, and there has been a distinct improvement in the self-assessed mental state of the people using the website. The trained volunteers were also able to connect 2 people in a state of crisis to mental health professionals.

LonePack was one of 20 initiatives selected to participate in the "Innovations Marketplace for Gender Equality" incubation programme run by Youth Co:Lab, and is working to improve its curriculum to better address mental health needs arising from issues around gender/ sexual identity. They are also in the process of building an Android app for LonePack Buddy to make it more accessible to underprivileged Indians who are more likely to access services through apps on smartphones as opposed to websites.

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Urara Takaseki

Your School

Urara Takaseki is the Vice-President of Your School, a non-profit that provides access to education and social connection to children in hospitals. It does so by training medical students with patient communication skills and creating spaces in hospitals for the kids to “escape” to from their secluded rooms.

For training the students, it is also beginning to work with rural schools to generate opportunities for medical students to work with and better understand children. Additionally, the team at Your School works alongside professionals to provide tools for parents and teachers of children with special needs via its YouTube channel. Your School aims to give hope to both the children in need who are directly involved in the projects, as well as future children who will be looked after by the students who have been trained by the organisation’s programmes.

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Vincent Egunlae & Caroline Maile

Open Private School

Vincent and Caroline, Grant Thornton colleagues and FinBiz 2030 Project Leaders, are leading the Open Private School (OPS), a UK charity that seeks to advance social mobility and equality of opportunity through providing some of the intangible benefits of a private education to those from state schools.

OPS pairs experienced professionals with state-educated students. The students undertake a mentorship program before qualifying to be part of the OPS alumni community. The charity also raises awareness of different routes into industry, provides students with the tools needed to access these industries through insight webinars and soft skill development training sessions, and incepts the professional network needed to succeed in any career. By doing so, it aims to increase the aspirations of state-educated students and facilitate a successful transition into the working world and positions of senior leadership. This is to achieve its mission of providing every student with the opportunities to fulfil their full potential.

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Wandile Mthiyane

Anti-Racist Hot Dog

Wandile is Co-Founder of Ubuntu Design Group, an organisation that uses architectural design and financial inclusion problems of low-income communities around the world. On April 1st 2021, he also launched the Anti-Racist Hot Dog after being kicked out of an exclusive membership club, that has a history of policies and practices that discriminate against black people. After being refused to dine, he requested a day pass, and was again declined. In response to this discrimination, Wandile published an article comparing his experience to those of the apartheid regime, and a member of the club replied with the comment “if you don’t feel welcome in our restaurant, why don’t you start your own.”

Wandile took this as motivation to start the Anti-Racist Hot Dog, as a protest against discrimination and to provide an inclusive place for people to buy food on the beach. As a young leader in architecture, Wandile wanted to create something that physically reclaims public space, makes a statement of anti-racism, and is a haven for all people who want to eat or socialise. The act of protest, although effective, has historically been a sacrifice for victims, but Wandile wanted to create a revenue-generating protest that gives back rather than takes away from marginalised communities. On launch day, the team sold out within only 3 hours to a diverse demographic of customers. The institution has launched a new initiative by which customers can buy a hotdog for a homeless person in Durban.

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