Despite the outbreak of COVID-19, winners of the 8th edition of the Future Africa Leaders Awards (FALA) Foundation, an initiative of Rev. Chris Oyakhilome (PhD), founder and President of LoveWorld Incorporated, also known as Christ Embassy, reel out ways on how they continued to affects the Africa society amidst the pandemic.
The FALA award had produced 80 winners overall across Africa since inception in 2013. The foundation identifies young leaders who are positively impacting and developing their communities, society across Africa.
At the media briefing held recently in Lagos, Nigeria, for the 2020 winners, were nine top winners and the Star winner for year were unveiled. The winners reel out their impactful programmes and dreams for the African continent and how they emerged winners.
The Star Award Winner, a 22-year-old social activist, Gwei Michael Wawa from Cameroon received a grand prize of $25,000 as a show of encouragement and $10,000 each for other winners.
Gwei Michael Wawa is a 22-year-old social activist, who is passionate about scientific and technological solutions for Africa’s advancement. He started an NGO called ‘Youth Empowerment through Science and Technology’ (YEST). The organization held 34 Conferences and 14 Seminars that directly impacted over 18,000 young people.
In collaboration with the College of Technology, Michael organized a mega technological trade fair, with professors in the technology/engineering sectors of various universities invited as judges to review and award over 15 new inventions, and also to sensitize over 2,000 secondary school students on continuous innovation.
He partnered with Nervtek, a tech-based NGO, to sponsor and organize a Teck Community Challenge, where 200 students from 5 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 3 winners received incentives worth over $1,000 (US) each and accessories to upgrade their inventions.
Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, schools in Cameroon were closed for 6 months. Concerned, Michael instituted a 3-month training project called ICT4Teens and 150 teenagers were trained and equipped in media & information literacy, robotics, web development, programming and computational literacy. Michael initiated an Agricultural Value Chain Project (AVCP), through which he established a 2-hectare plantain farm that engaged 85 University students who worked with him to create a multi-crop flour-making machine.
AVCP is currently being used as an internship program by universities for their agricultural and technological interns. For the International Youth Day, Michael mobilized over 200 young people and partnered with a local dirt handling company to carry out the biggest cleanup campaign in his city. Michael, for his exemplary accomplishments, has notable awards and commendations from the governments of Japan, Brazil, Rwanda, Kenya, Chad, Saudi Araba and Ethiopia.
Also, speaking Babiene Helena Wenny, one of the top prize award winner for the year highlighted how she affected her immediate community in South Africa and extended her projects to Kenya.
According to her, “During the lockdown we were completely confused, everybody was so nervous about what is going on. And as time went on, i saw the bulletin bulletin that the government is trying to find a way to feed. Many young people around South Africa, their businesses stopped and their livelihoods were changed because there was no going to work, and the government is trying to find a way”.
“So I decided to take all the money for my bursary to support my community and for those non significant citizens in the country. The support by the government were not getting to the young people, children and households that have no health whatsoever, so I put together foods, an emergency food relief pack and I took all the grocery I could afford to support the community”
“This was the most amazing moment of my life, to see people cry like that to get so emotional that it was a beautiful day. And as the lockdown intensified you’re supposed to be three weeks, but then they still came on the screen said no we are extending, and now they’re shutting down all the schools”
“I walk into my backyard and teach them just to get them ready for the exams at the end of the year. Because the Minister of Education said that we’re not going to stop exams, so they must start from home, helping young people. So the classes” .
The following day, the numbers of students continued to increase and this was supposed to be a lockdown. So when the police realised that there’s a lot of movement in my backyard, they started knocking and saying that, you know, we’re just letting you know that we’ll find you. And so because of that, we have to stop the classes most importantly, don’t even have masks on”
“So you’re going to get into trouble. So, Thomas will be announced that building an online app will now to teach most lenders that want to take in a safer way, that is in trouble is God.
Wenny noted that as pressure mounted on her she had to create an online app, and introduced a lot of learners. She posits that challenges from students and teachers intensified, no teacher want to teach for free because it’s a lockdown everyone wants to be paid.
Wenny said that she decide to learn about other subject to be able to teach the students. She argued that the app was a success because a lot of young learners develop intrest in it.
“some of them are even sending us emails and ask questions through the app” .
Wenny added that she launched another campaign that was aimed to provide shoes to the feet of children in Africa, “I learnt that in Kenya, there is parasite that lays eggs on the legs of young children because they are walking long distances. I think that’s what inspired me to be Africa”
” I was limited with funds as there was no way I could send money down because of the lockdown physically and I can’t go to Kenya” .
“Also, this project was one of the most challenging one for me because I had to look for sponsors. Now it’s not easy during a lockdown to be telling someone else that I need money to buy kids shoes, they’ll ask What about my kids”
“Though it was challenging and I had to take from my bursary funds. So we sent the money down and the shoes were bought, and flashed and the pictures were saved in my heart” she noted.