This annual AFS Prize recognizes one extraordinary young person for their commitment to improving the global community with a US$10,000 cash prize, participation at the AFS Global Conference, international recognition and membership in the AFS community of young and active global citizens. The 2020 AFS Prize winner will be announced at the AFS Global Conference (22-23 October, online).
Ananya Chhaochharia, Bleed in Peace by Paint it Red
Ananya is a political consultant and public policy professional, who specializes in gender and politics. Paint It Red is a social initiative that seeks to end period poverty in India by working to solve two key challenges of menstrual health – lack of education regarding menstruation and lack of access to sustainable menstrual products. In light of the current Coronavirus pandemic, the organization launched #BleedInPeace, a campaign which provides free menstrual kits consisting of reusable cloth pads to womxm from distressed communities. As of July 2020, the campaign was operational across 6 states in India having distributed 56,000 cloth pads to 11,000 beneficiaries in a period of 75 days.
SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities
Ashley Lin, Digital Exchange Program
Ashley is the Executive Director and Board Chair of Project Exchange and its Digital Exchange Program which uses cultural exchange to empower marginalized communities. The Digital Exchange Program (DEP) is a free online cultural exchange program that fosters global cross-cultural exchange for students furthest from opportunity. This free, 12-week online program, will connect 2,000 globally-minded middle & high school students from around the world and provide them the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and resources to design community-action projects that promote intercultural understanding and global collaboration. Through safe & intimate peer-to-peer and small group dialogues, students deepen their understanding of how local issues connect with the greater global narrative and collectively generate solutions that draw upon the knowledge of communities around the world. Since 2018, there have been five cohorts of the DEP. When students leave the DEP, they leave seeing themselves as changemakers in a global society!
SDG 4: Quality Education
Edgar Tarimo, Green Venture Tanzania
Edgar is the Founder and the CEO of Green Venture Tanzania, who launched the initiative and gathered the team to deliver the impact to local communities. Green Venture Tanzania aims to recycle plastic wastes into durable and affordable building materials for low-income people. The initiative has employed more than 100 part-time plastic wastes collectors and 6 full-time workers in the production process. Green Venture recycled more than 70 tons of plastic wastes into building materials and helped communities fight the problem of housing and environmental pollution.
SDG 13: Climate Action
Elizabeth Nalugemwa, Seedloans
Seeds as microloans to female smallholder farmers in rural Uganda – that is Seedloans. The innovative startup of 25-year old Elizabeth Nalugemwa increases the food security of families through a simple but effective idea. Female farmers receive 10kg of seeds each during the planting season. After three months, they grow to 100kg of beans, as meals for the family, to sell or replant. Then each woman returns 15kg of seed to Seedloans. Thanks to this positive snowball system, more and more female farmers can benefit from the alternative microloans. The idea was born in April 2020 to combat the food crisis resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic. Now the startup is already working with over 70 women in the Ugandan province of Mpigi. This was made possible through a Ugandan-German collaboration because it enabled Elizabeth to act immediately by bringing together the knowledge, contacts and immense motivation of her and a group of German students. Next year, the initiative plans to give over 400 female farmers access to high-quality seeds and impact their lives by combating hunger, poverty and gender inequality.
SDG 2: Zero Hunger
Johnmary Kavuma, Upcycle Africa
Upcycle Africa is a social enterprise with an aim of transforming the waste crisis in Africa into employment opportunities for marginalized groups of people while training these groups the skills of turning plastic waste into products of value. The organization has four key priorities. First, educating local communities on the dangers of plastic waste and practical solutions to turn plastic materials into products of value. Since its foundation, the organization has educated over 20,800 students in 52 different schools across Uganda and Africa. Second, a waste picker’s program which recovers plastic waste dumped into communities to ensure a safe and clean environment without prospects. The team has recovered over 3,000,000 plastic bottles to date. Third, waste compaction, whereby after categorization, plastic is used in the construction of Upcycle’s buildings or sold to recycling companies. As a result, over 1,000 tons of plastic have been sustainably repurposed. The final aspect of their work is the construction of affordable housing through training marginalized communities on sustainable construction. They have built 117 houses for families including 11 from marginalized communities.
SDG 13: Climate Action
Kehkashan Basu, Green Hope Foundation
Through Green Hope, Kehkashan is working to engage her fellow youth – focusing on those who are marginalised, empowering them to demand their right and evolve as ‘Protectors of our Planet’. Kehkashan developed an innovative advocacy model called “Environment Academy” Education for Sustainable Development as a transformative tool, incorporating innovative communication modes of Art, Dance, Music, Sport, Drama and STEM education to build necessary skill sets amongst the participants. The Green Hope project has so far conducted 165 Environment Academies, directly impacting 80,000 youth in 25 countries and has been shortlisted by UNESCO as a “good practice real-life story on Education for Sustainable Development”. Our project is low-cost, easily scalable and replicable due to the innovation we use in communication and it has now impacted young people in 16 countries, from urban to rural settings and impacting youth in both developed and developing nations.
SDG 10: Reduced Inequalities
Manoshi Saha Tuli, Narir Chokhe Bangladesh
Despite health being one of the principal demands, reproductive and sexual health of women and adolescent age girls are often ignored in Bangladesh. “Narir Chokhe Bangladesh” – “Bangladesh through Women’s Eyes“ started on 6th April, 2017. In this project, four girls visited 64 districts on their motorbikes for the first time in the history of Bangladesh to promote women empowerment: To show and encourage women to follow their choice to take a job, to travel, to seek medical help, to show that women can break the chain. The purpose was to arrange workshops with school-going girls about beautiful Bangladesh, history of independence in 1971, their menstrual health (which is a taboo topic in their country), training on self-defense, and child marriage. They have completed the first part of the project and reached 32,000 girls all over the country and continue the dream of a Bangladesh where girls will be confident, independent and successful in their life.
SDG 5: Gender Equality
Michael Murigi, Focuswise SHG (Focus on Cassava)
This project strives to alleviate hunger and extreme poverty by facilitating drought-vulnerable communities to adopt farming of improved cassava because it is drought-tolerant and therefore suitable for cultivation in dry areas. This project facilitates households to start the farming of improved cassava by training them on the best practices to farming the crop and supplying them with seeds. So far, they have impacted on a total of 15,650 households, with 3,750 of them between January 2018 and January 2020, through providing improved cassava seeds, training on improved cassava farming and utilization for food and feed. The project was since expanded to benefit many more vulnerable communities across seven counties in the arid and semi-arid part of Kenya, and with a vision to reach a majority of the communities in entire Eastern Africa.
SDG 2: Zero Hunger
Poornima Meegammana, NextGen Girls in Technology
NextGen Girls in Technology aims to increase women participation in emerging technology careers by introducing a techno-extracurricular program in schools to improve analytical, logical and creative thinking and training university girls on-demand skills like IoT, Machine Learning, Cybersecurity and Design to bridge the skills mismatch and increase employment opportunities. The project reached all corners of Sri Lanka offline and online, giving some girls their first technology experience changing their career expectations and created a community of Students, Teachers and university students to take the project forward. During the last 2 years they were able to create an immense impact, changing the mindsets and technology skills levels of girls and women. So far they have reached 2,675+ beneficiaries which include 1,751 School students, 418 university students and 506 school Teachers.
SDG 5: Gender Equality
Shah Chowdhury, Project Trishna
Safe drinking water in Bangladesh is a big challenge. The varying presence of arsenic, excess iron, lead, salinity, bacteria and viruses pose a serious threat not only in terms of health but also in social development; lack of safe water access acts as a barrier in overcoming poverty. Project Trishna is a social venture to empower communities through safe water access and ensure safe water as a basic right for all. Trishna takes a community-driven approach by first analyzing potential communities experiencing water distress, installing safe water systems according to community’s water quality and demand and then training community members to become self-reliant so that these communities can sustain their water solution without any further donor support and where they can implement the same knowledge towards other community challenges. Since 2015, Project Trishna has empowered over 75,000 people with safe water access in 53 communities across Dhaka, Tangail and Chittagong in Bangladesh, among which 14,000 are children in 42 schools.