Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu of Ethiopia – In the Footsteps of a Thousand Rebels

Imagine you were born in a poor neighbourhood in eastern Africa. A neighbourhood so poor people couldn’t afford shoes and had to make them themselves out of anything they could find: rubber, car tires. Imagine you vowed to change this situation. Imagine you created a company in that very poor environment, making a redesigned version of the recycled tire sole shoe worn by Ethiopians with modest means. Would that crazy idea of selling shoes made of tire attract clients? Would that be ‘the idea’ to alleviate poverty in your community or will you have to think of something else?

Read More
James Kofi Annan of Ghana – No rest till all the children are free

Imagine you were born on the Atlantic coast of Ghana. Imagine your parents were so poor, they sent you, the last born of your mother’s 12 kids, to live with relatives. Imagine you were forced into slavery, working long hours as a fisherman, with no wage, no medical care, no schooling, and abuse like no kid should ever suffer. How long would you survive this harsh treatment? Would you ever be able to get out of that life? And if you did, how would you deal with the trauma? What life and what future would you have, you a kid robbed of his childhood and who can’t even read or write?

Read More
Anta Mbow of SENEGAL – An Empire for Betrayed Children

Imagine you grew up in Senegal and moved to France at 21 years. Imagine you pursued a career as a social worker, reuniting youth at risk with their families. Imagine that you weren’t completely fulfilled nby your chosen career as you realised you the needs in your native Senegal, where the problem of street children was growing by the day, were much bigger than those in your community in France. Imagine you decide to go back home to try and help address the situation. Imagine you thought you could stay home a couple years and go back to France but you realised the problem was much bigger that what you had anticipated. What would you do? Would you go back to France to resume your old life, or would you stay in Senegal? And if you were to stay, what could you do to change the lives of these children?

Read More
Jørn Lyseggen of Norway – A billion people, a billion talents

Imagine you were an IT wizard and became millionaire at 35. Imagine you decided to invest in the future of Africa, without expecting any personal gain. Africa, a continent where you’ve never set foot. Why? Because you are convinced that the continent is a boundless pool of talents. Would you manage to convince your company to make that move? And once you’ve seen the ‘real’ Africa as opposed the one you had in mind, would you still go ahead with your project?

Read More
Rosemary Nalden of the UK – Concerto for Soweto in A minor

Imagine you were born in the UK towards the end of the second world war. Imagine your family wet to start a new life in New Zealand but you later return to the UK to pursue a musical career. Imagine you build a successful career as a violinist till you one day head a radio show about a musical project in Soweto in dire need of help. Imagine you organise fundraisers on their behalf, start sending money and visiting them in South-Africa but you realise they need more than a few visits a year. How far will you go to help them? How much will you invest yourself in the future of these gifted youth living in a township and a country still struggling to redefine themselves and heal from the divisiveness of the apartheid era?

Read More
Dr. Denis Mukwege of Congo – The Man who repairs Women

Imagine you were born in what was then called the Belgian Congo. Imagine that since you were a child, you wanted to become a doctor, so you could take care of your community. Imagine you get a chance to earn your medical degree and come back to practice in your local hospital, in South Kivu. Imagine the Congo war erupts in 1996, sexual assault because one of the most common weapon used by all the armed groups. What would you do? How would you deal with a level of atrocities you have never imagine could be done to women, cases your education and life never prepared you to?  

Read More
Inkosi Theresa Kachindamoto of Malawi – Do Not Mess With Fire!

Imagine you were born in Malawi, the daughter of a chief and youngest of 13 siblings. Imagine that you moved away for college in a neighboring city and ended-up staying there and working there. Imagine that almost 30 years later, upon the death of your brother the Chief, the Elders chose you – his sister and youngest sibling of the surviving 11 kids – to take over the rule! Would you accept the challenge, being a woman in a position normally occupied by men? And if you do against, what would you do to impact your countrymen’s life, a rural people deeply attached to the cultures and traditions of the past?

Read More