My Journal

Extraordinary Voices: Selassie Atadika; Africa’s Innovative Chef

Selassie Atakida is a Ghanaian culinary chef who has made waves in the world of fine cuisine. She is one of our extraordinary voices in this month. One thing that is very noticeable in our extraordinary series is how these women have been able to make impact in their various professions and create a niche for themselves. We explore how Selassie has made a name for herself by mastering the art of cooking.

HER STORY

Selassie Atadika has always been interested in cooking since she was about four or five years old and it is pretty much not a surprise to anyone that she is invested in the art of food. But it’s quite shocking to know that she wasn’t always a chef. Selassie dreamt of going to culinary school but alas, due to objections from her father, she ended up in a successful career with the United Nations. Even at that, she never stopped cooking. She never forgot her passion. She says;

“But I still kept cooking,”

Selassie’s career in the United Nations first started with her working as a civilian in UN peace keeping missions in Angola and Kosovo before she eventually started work with the UNICEF on humanitarian projects all over Africa. She cites how her career with the UN gave her the opportunity to experience the different traditional foods in different countries in Africa;

“I would explore the local cuisine and then try to figure out how those ingredients could be played around with,” she says.

Selassie eventually resigned from the UN to focus on her cooking. She and two of her friends started a pop-up restaurant in Dakar, Senegal where they served food once a month at different locations in the city.

She founded the Midunu- a company with its name derived from the Ewe language which means “let us eat.” The company is centered on catering for private parties and corporate events, but the company also throws monthly nomadic dinners in different locations in Accra. She speaks on how she wants the world to see African food and for the world to take notice of the beauty that is African cuisine. She highlights how with globalization; a lot of African cuisine is being forgotten;

“With globalization and urbanization, a lot of things are getting lost”

[Tweet ““Beyond celebrating Africa’s culinary heritage, I want to look at preserving Africa’s culinary heritage””]

She uses ingredients from different places in Africa to celebrate our diverse culinary heritage and also to preserve it;

“Beyond celebrating Africa’s culinary heritage, I want to look at preserving Africa’s culinary heritage”

She not only cooks but uses the different spices in Africa to produce chocolate. She says it’s like telling the story in a simple way when people taste chocolate and taste a spice or flavor that is African. A connection of people and culture;

“It’s telling the African story through chocolate”

She is one of the 30 Extraordinary Voices featured in the Women’s Month Series by AWLO. Click on your favorite social media button below to share if you have been inspired by Selassie Atadika.

 


Extraordinary Voices: Ernestina Appiah; Inspiring and Creating Young Leaders Through Tech

“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”
– Colin Powell

Ernestina Edem Appiah, born in 1977 is a Ghanaian virtual assistant by profession and a social entrepreneur. She is an inspiring lady and AWLO recognizes her this month as one of our extraordinary voices. We get to explore how inspiring and awesome she is.

Ernestina is inspiring for a number of reasons. Her story highlights a determined and focused lady who was able to shape her life to be something she wanted it to be,and give back to society in what little way she could.

HER DETERMINATION

Ernestina Appiah is the founder of the Ghana code club but before that she worked as a secretary for a Ghanian IT consultancy firm. Ernestina has always wanted a career in IT and when she saw the work the only lady in the consultancy firm did, it inspired her to take the bold step to learn all about HTML and all things relating to IT. She can be quoted as saying;

“I have always desired to have a career in IT, after starting working as a secretary for a Ghanaian IT consultancy firm in Accra in 2000. I admired the consultants as they carried along with their work, especially the only lady in their midst”

Even with her determination to learn, she says how she found the price of going to school to learn very expensive. But that didn’t stop her from learning. She was so determined that she found a way to get what she wanted;

“…I opted to hire a web designer to teach me the fundamentals of programming using HTML. This was how I got introduced into the IT industry. I then started practicing on my own, day-in and day-out to perfect my skills…”

Ernestina’s determination made it possible for her to have her career in the IT industry but did she stop there, no! she decided to give back to society by creating an NGO geared called the Healthy Career Initiative and also consequently founded the Ghana Code Club.

THE HEALTHY CAREER INITIATIVE AND THE GHANA CODE CLUB

Ernestina’s Healthy Career Initiative is a not for profit geared towards teaching and mentoring girls in the field of information, communication and technology. She cites how her life story influenced her to do this in order to help young girls.

“…I was so happy and overly excited about the paradigm shift in my life that I yearned to share my story and mentor girls into the field of information, communication and technology”

Not only did she start this, Enestina realized that there was a need for children to be taught at an early age about technology, coding etc. This occurred to her when she was trying to teach her son the basics of programming;

“One day as my son turned 5 years, I was looking for a platform to train him on the basics of programming when I came across a group of children from the UK using the Makey Technology kits to create digital content and fun activities, which picked my interest…”

She cites how this made her transition from the Healthy Career Initiative to the Ghana Code Club which is geared towards youth digital literacy. She believes children shouldn’t only know how to use technology but should also know how it works. Hence, the organization teaches children basic programming skills with projects from Scratch, HTML+ CSS and python.

The club gives children the chance to learn how to create and design games, animation etc. When asked in an interview why she’s teaching children coding, she had this to say;

[Tweet ““Learning to code is an important skill now that we are living in a digital age… Learning to code doesn’t just mean you can become a developer – it strengthens problem solving and logical thinking skills, and is useful for a range of other disciplines, careers and hobbies.””]

“Learning to code is an important skill now that we are living in a digital age… Learning to code doesn’t just mean you can become a developer – it strengthens problem solving and logical thinking skills, and is useful for a range of other disciplines, careers and hobbies.”

Not only is the club for children, they also train ICT teachers to be more proficient and updated.

Although she faces struggles such as funding, it doesn’t stop her and her team of volunteers from doing what little they can and to influence the world and that alone makes Ernestina an inspiration.

She is one of the 30 Extraordinary Voices featured in the Women’s Month Series by AWLO. Click on your favorite social media button below to share if you have been inspired by Ernestina Appiah.


Extraordinary Voices: Nkem Onwudiwe’s Goal is to Inspire and Bridge the Gap Between Women

“As women we try so hard to keep up with tasks so we are not seen as incompetent. It’s not meant to be like that. Ask for help when you need it, if you feel you have to let go and move on to something better, what are you waiting for?

I’ve learned that you cannot do everything yourself. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to ask for help, learn to trust others and delegate. I’ve also learned to set goals, both personal and professional, and to regularly evaluate progress.”

This advice is from a beautiful, bold and ambitious PR and Communications Consultant and Entrepreneur Nkem Onwudiwe who is passionate about women’s personal growth.

According to Nkem, “inspiration gives hope and once a woman knows that there is a possibility that she can put her foot through that door, she would go forth and do so. Inspiration shapes lives by compelling them to take action, make a move, be heard, be seen…”

Finding her Feet

Nkem was Mo Abudu’s audience co-ordinator for the show “Moments with Mo”. According to Nkem, the push and trust from Ms. Abudu launched and further shaped her career in PR and Communications.

However, she decided to brave the icy waters of entrepreneurship, driven by the insatiable desire to do and achieve more with her life.

Her Network

Nkem is the founder of Her Network, a premier networking platform for women of all races, ages and sizes to help one another grow. Nkem is passionate about creating exciting events where women can come together, have real meaningful conversations, promote their businesses, sell their brands and build relationships with other women – bridging the gap between women.

Keeping her achievements aside, Nkem has made a lot of impact by empowering women who are zealous and ready for self development in a short period of time. Her Network is not just for inspiration, it’s a mix of personal development and spiritual growth.

Nkem’s Mantra

I always say commit to being a life-long learner and be relentless in your pursuit of anything that sets your soul on fire!

She is one of the 30 Extraordinary Voices featured in the Women’s Month Series by AWLO. Click on your favorite social media button below to share if you have been inspired by Nkem Onwudiwe


Extraodinary Voices: Tawanya Norwood’s Incredible Yoga Poses and Aiming for Great Heights Despite her Background

Everyone sees leadership and greatness in a number of ways. What do you find interest in? What really inspires you? Are you willing to share your passion with the rest of the world? There a lot of trainers and fitness models who fancy showing off their curves and great body on instagram. We celebrate Tawanya Norwood as one of our Extraordinary Voices today.

[Tweet “Tawanya Norwood is a strong woman who did not let her background affect the woman she always wanted to be.”]

She’s a strong woman who did not let her background affect the woman she has always wanted to be. She is an aspiring fitness model, with self taught yoga poses including headstands.

Who is Tawanya Norwood?

Tawanya Norwood is from a low income, high crime neighborhood in Miami, Florida known as Liberty City. She has a dream to be a motivational speaker to athletes, women and kids who grew up from the type of community she did.

She is also aiming to be endorsed as an athlete by Nike and also to model so people can listen to her speak.

For more than a year she has been taking pictures and editing with her iPad and posting them to her Instagram account so she can get the attention of someone from Nike. Oh! let this be it.

Her interest in fitness

Tawanya has always had a passion for sports. In high school she ran track from 2003-2007. Her passion increased when she got into college because she noticed its high level of impact on people. She gradually started a research on sports in the society and she came across a motivational speaker who used sports as an analogy for life. She loved his speeches after listening to them and decided she wanted to do something similar. She learnt from his perspective how sports can teach life lessons and she developed a genuine passion with an appreciation for fitness in general.

Tawanya’s ‘Big Dreams’

Tawanya was inspired to ‘dream big’ by speaker Eric Thomas. From his story he went from being on the streets to having a PhD and speaking to NBA and NFL teams about his journey and breakthrough. His background and accomplishments made her realize she could also do the same thing. She chose to be a speaker because it involved all the things she was good and passionate about. In one of his speeches, he asked “What qualifies you to stand before an athlete who’s a 7 time NBA champion?” That made Tawanya realize she had to accomplish something more in life if she wanted to gain the ear and respect of the people whom she wants to listen to her.

“Never give up. Great things Take Time.”

Her love for Nike made her choose it in particular. The blend of Nike fashion, athleticism and inspirational messages. Also the cooler things to do like travelling to different countries, photoshoots, training in groups and events with both the trainers and celebrities. For Tawanya it paved a way to a better life.

She’s still growing and she believes this path will take her to a better life and she has been consistent in it.

Her inspiration

Tawanya has cited Eric Thomas and Beyoncé as her inspiration. Beyoncé inspires her because she’s successful, creative, confident, ambitious, strong, talented, beautiful, hard- working and genuine. She sees a lot of herself in Beyoncé and to her “she shows me how great she can be, women can be.”

Her Extra Ordinary Feats

It will interest you to know that Tawanya Norwood is a Florida-based acrobat-turned-Marine. Norwood has over 10,000 instagram followers, whom she continually wows with her incredible yoga poses.

This is what Tawanya Norwood has to say about her amazing yoga career “My self- esteem and interactions with others. Learning poses like handstands has made me appreciate myself more and love myself for who I am and what my body can accomplish. I can see my strength when I do yoga so I don’t look to others as much to validate it. I admire what I’ve accomplished so I don’t seek out the admiration of others as much. I’m still working on some things but yoga has helped me find within myself what I once looked for outside of me… approval.”


Extraordinary Voices: Creative and Innovative Mind; Adaora Mbelu-Dania

Adaora Mbelu-Dania is a creative industrialist with a passion for creating and innovating. She believes that every individual has something valuable to add to this world, and thus, she started Ahdora.com; a community to share inspiration and help build dreams. She is one of AWLO’s extraordinary voices and we get to explore this great and innovative mind.

[Tweet “Creativity is Key… Adaora Mbelu-Dania”]

EARLY CHILDHOOD

Adaora is a young creator, born into a multiracial family background, to a Nigerian father and a Sri Lankan mother. Adaora however, considers herself a world citizen. Born in Colombo, Srilanka, and raised in Lagos, Adaora’s journey in creativity and leadership started as a child, when she represented her primary school at the Lagos State Debate competition in the early 90’s and often appeared on the then popular children’s TV program “Speak Out” and “Children’s Variety”. Adaora was also vice president of the music club and health prefect of her primary school, where she coordinated the music band, and represented the school at various music competitions. At age 9, she wrote her first book, when she was 16, she represented Nigeria at the Global Young Leaders Conference in Washington DC and New York, joining about 350 outstanding scholars from various countries to attend the program; at 19, she was working at CITI group in the United States, and by the time she was 29, she was already running a million dollar enterprise – A2 Creative.

HER EARLY BEGINNING

Adaora Mbelu started her career as a credit risk analyst at Citigroup, USA, before moving back to Nigeria in 2008. At 23 years old, Adaora was the Corporate Communications manager for OSMI, and managed the company’s marketing communications for the 2010 World Cup. She then became the Assistant Project Manager for Nigerian Idol, and Project Manager for the Television show, Nigeria’s Got Talent where she was responsible for managing all aspects of the show – business and production. Since then Adaora has worked on projects across various industries, either as a Project Manager, Media Manager, or Content Director/Developer. Some of these projects include: Copa Lagos, X Factor Nigeria, The United Nations World Tourism Organization conference, Nigeria Centenary Awards 2014, Presidential Democracy Day event with former President Goodluck Jonathan, and International Conference on Peace and Security (with 28 World Leaders in attendance).

CAREER PROFILE

Adaora is currently Head of Innovation at A2 Creative – a Trellis Company that specializes in brand development,, marketing and creative strategy through the use of innovative strategy and experiential marketing.

She has worked as content director for the United Nations World Tourism Conference, Nigeria Centenary Awards, and International Conference On Peace & Security which had 28 world leaders in attendance.

Adaora was also project manager – business and production – for TV shows Nigerian Idol and Nigeria’s Got Talent. She was also the Corporate Communications Manager for OSMI during the 2010 World Cup where she managed all communications on the broadcast rights for Nigeria.

She also led the ideation and brand development team that launched Guinness Africa Special into the Nigerian market. She was also involved in the planning and research for the launch of Ebony Life TV.

Adaora was the President of the African Students Association, and Vice President of the International Students union while studying Economics and Entrepreneurship at Northern Kentucky University.

Adaora operates a blog where she shares career and life insights as well as lessons learned in her entrepreneurial journey.

AWARDS AND HONOREES

In 2011 she was named ‘Promising Young Entrepreneur’ in the MTV/MTN Meets Project.

She was also named in the ‘Top 30 Under 30’ list by FAB Magazine.

At the 2012 The Future Awards Africa, Adaora was nominated in the ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ category. She was nominated again in the “Media Enterprise” Category at the same award show in 2016.

Nominated Outstanding Freshman at NKU, Outstanding Sophomore at NKU, Outstanding Junior at NKU
Member of National Scholars Honor Society, USA
Entrepreneurship Institute Honors Committee, USA
Represented Nigeria at The Global Young Leaders Conference New York, USA
Citigroup Excellence Award
First Black Recipient of “The Spirit Of Entrepreneurship” Scholarship by The Castellini Foundation

In 2017, Adaora was mentioned in Entrepreneur Magazine’s “11 Africans that are changing the business landscape in Africa.”

She is the founder of Socially Africa, a platform working to build a generation of leaders and problem solvers that transcends entrepreneurship and professional success.

She is one of the 30 Extraordinary Voices featured in the Women’s Month Series by AWLO. Click on your favorite social media button below to share if you have been inspired by Adaora Mbelu-Dania.


Extraordinary Voices: Meet Angelique Kidjo; Voice of Africa’s music

One good thing about music, when it hits you, you feel no pain
-Bob Marley

Today in our series of Extraordinary Voices, AWLO celebrates Angélique Kidjo; an amazing amazon whose music and blends of African style speaks volume in Africa and the world.

QUEEN OF AFRICAN MUSIC

Angelique Kidjo is a powerful, African singer and tireless performer, Angelique Kidjo has been one of the most successful performers to emerge on world music stages in the 1990s and 2000s. Her music not only draws from African traditions but also interprets the ways those traditions developed after Africans were seized and taken to the New World. Thus elements of American soul, funk, rap, and jazz, Brazilian samba, Jamaican reggae, and Cuban and Puerto Rican salsa all show up on her recordings, along with various African styles. She evolved into one of the international music scene’s most popular concert attractions, she accumulated a large fan base that happily came on stage and danced with her.

[Tweet “Voodoo is seen as something negative, but it’s not. It’s based on anima and on respect for a human being’s life.””]

EARLY LIFE AND CAREER

Angelique Kidjo is a native of Benin, on Africa’s Atlantic coast adjacent to Nigeria. She was born in the coastal city of Ouidah on July 14th, 1960, to government postal official Franck Kidjo (an enthusiastic photographer and banjo player on the side) and his choreographer wife Yvonne. Her parents were her first influence in music with whom she enjoyed great support in her musical career.

Among her eight siblings were several brothers who started a band when she was young, inspired by James Brown and other American stars who flooded Benin’s airwaves. Kidjo was musically eclectic from the start, listening avidly to juju sounds from neighboring Nigeria, to pop music from other African countries, to Cuban salsa music.

FROM AFRICA TO THE WORLD

Kidjo made her stage debut at age six with her mother’s dance troupe, and in the late 1970s she formed a band of her own and recorded an album that featured a cover version of a song by one ofher idols, South African singer Miriam Makeba. In 1980, however, Kidjo found her musical activities restricted by a New Leftist regime that took power in Benin and tried to force her to record political anthems. Kidjo fled to Paris in 1983 with the intent of studying law there and becoming a human rights lawyer. But of course her passion has always been music and she made the decision to touch people with her music.

Her partner in this enterprise was French bassist and composer Jean Hebrail, whom Kidjo married and with whom she has written much of her music; the pair has a daughter, Naima Laura, born in 1993. For several years Kidjo played in a French African jazz band called Pili Pili, led by pianist Jasper van t’Hof, but in 1989 she struck out on her own, forming a band and releasing the album Parakou. That debut had its intended effect: it attracted the attention of the biggest name in world music at the time, Chris Blackwell of Britain’s Island Records. He signed Kidjo to the label’s Mango subdivision, and her second album, Logozo, was released in 1991.

That album gained Kidjo a faithful core of fans that could be counted on to attend her highly participatory live shows. Her unusual image contributed to her success; in place of the expansive look of other African female vocalists, Kidjo sported a lean dancer’s body clad in denim pants, and she cut her hair very close to her head.

HIGHLIGHTS ON KIDJO

Angelique Kidjo is a Grammy Award winning singer, songwriter, human rights and gender activist.

She is a powerful singer and tireless performer. Time magazine has called her “Africa’s premier diva”

Angelique Kidjo has been one of the most successful performers to emerge on world music stages in the 1990s and 2000s. She draws her musical inspiration from African traditions but not only that, she also interprets them to emphasize on the development of Africa after the years of slavery.

Kidjo is fluent in Fon, French, Yorùbá and English, and sings in all four languages.

Kidjo has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador since 2002. She is the recipient of the 2015 Crystal Award given by the World Economic Forum of Davos in Switzerland and has received the Ambassador of Conscience Award from Amnesty International in 2016.

Kidjo founded The Batonga Foundation, which gives support to girls in secondary school and higher education so that they can take the lead in changing Africa.

She is one of the 30 Extraordinary Voices featured in the Women’s Month Series by AWLO. Click on your favorite social media button below to share if you have been inspired by Angelique Kidjo.


Extraordinary Voices: Dambisa Moyo, International Economist, New York Times Bestseller, and Public Speaker

Dambisa Moyo has written and lectured on topics ranging from global markets, the impact of geopolitics on the economy, the future of the job market, the outlook for growth in China, and the past and future paths of interest rates.

Dambisa Moyo was born 2nd February, 1969 to Orlean Y. Moyo and Stephen Moyo in Lusaka, Zambia. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, an MBA from American University, an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School, and a DPhil in Economics from Oxford.

She is prominently known for her economic theories on macroeconomics, international development, and global affairs.

A Woman of Great Feats

She became a regular columnist and contributor to many financial networks and multinational business publications, as well as a speaker at conferences and other venues worldwide.

Moyo is a world renowned public speaker. She has participated in several talks and won several debates. She holds more than one board seat. She worked with the World Bank for two years and with Goldman Sachs eight years. Soon after leaving Goldman Sachs she became a board member of the International brewer SABMiller in 2009. As chairman of the company’s Corporate Accountability and Risk Assurance Committee, she oversaw the company’s responsibilities in relation to corporate accountability, including sustainable development, corporate social responsibility, corporate social investment, and ethical commercial behaviour.

In 2010, she joined the board of directors of the Barclays Bank where she sits on three of the board’s committees: the Audit Committee; the Conduct, Operational ADHD Reputational Risk Committee, and the financial risk committee.

By 2011, she was on the board of directors of the international mining company Barrick Gold. There as with Barclays, she sits on three of the board’s committees.

In 2015, Moyo joined the board of directors of data storage company Seagate Technology.

On August 9th, 2016, Moyo’s election to Chevron’s board of directors was announced.

She’s a former board member of the charity Lundin for Africa, a former patron of Absolute Return for Kids (ARK), and a former board member of Room to Read.

New York Times Bestseller

By 2015 Dambisa Moyo had travelled to more than 75 countries, examining the political, economic and financial workings of economies.

The publication of her first book Dead Aid: Why Aid is not Working and how there is a Better Way for Africa (2009), brought together her career of investigative writing and analysis of economic conditions.

In her 2009 book Dead Aid, she discusses foreign aid and why African countries should not rely wholly on it for development. She is brutally honest about how “charity” is actually killing her country Zambia and other African countries.

According to Moyo;
Many Africans are now addicted to Aid. Foreign aid, in a way, brings up corrupt governments by providing them with freely usable cash. These corrupt governments interfere with the rule of law, the establishment of transparent civil institutions and the protection of civil liberties, making both domestic and foreign investment in poor countries unattractive. With fewer investments there is limited economic growth, which leads to fewer job opportunities and increasing poverty levels. In response to growing poverty, donors give more aid, which continues the cycle.

Moyo has three New York Times Bestselling books to her credit: Dead Aid: Why Aid is not Working and how there is a Better Way for Africa (2009), How the West was Lost: Fifty Years of Economic Folly – and the Stark Choices that Lie Ahead (2011), and Winner Take All: China’s Race for Resources and What it Means for the World (2012) 

A Celebrated Leader and Visionary

In 2009, Moyo was named a World Economic Forum “Young Global Leader”, one of TIMES’ 100 Most Influential People, and one of Oprah Winfrey’s “20 Remarkable Visionaries”.
On March 14th, 2011, Moyo spoke at the annual Observance ceremony marking Commonwealth Day in Westminster Abbey. She spoke on “Women as Agents of Change” in the presence of the Queen Elizabeth II, British Prime Minister David Cameroon and 2000 guests.

In the same month, she was selected by The Daily Beat as one of the “150 Extraordinary Women Who Shake The World” along with Hilary Clinton, Madeleine Albright  and others.

In 2014, she signed up for NYC Marathon.
“I wanted to do something about the school girls who had been abducted in Nigeria that year. I raised over $20,000 through Team for Kids. Thinking of their trauma was such a motivation for me.” Dambisa Moyo inspires through her work, writing and sport.

Dambisa Moyo is one of the 30 Extraordinary Voices featured in the Women’s Month Series by AWLO. Click on your favorite social media button below to share if you have been inspired by her.


Millen Magese- Tanzanian Model who Spreads the Word and has now Triumphed over Endometriosis

Extraordinary people survive under the most terrible circumstances and they become more extraordinary because of it.-Robertson Davies

Today in our Women’s Month series – Extraordinary Voices; we celebrate the extraordinary strength, wit, aura and inspiring qualities of Millen Magese. Magese is an embodiment of love and strength who triumphantly triumphs over Endometriosis.

Meet Millen Magese

Millen Magese is a renowned model, and winner of Miss Tanzania 2011. She has appeared in some of the world’s most prestigious fashion shows in Africa, Europe, America and Asia, and has worked with leading designers such as Ralph Lauren and Karen Millen. Amidst career success, Millen Magese has also known the anguish of living with a debilitating medical condition called Endometrosis.

[Tweet “Meet Millen Magese has made a name for herself as an international model and humanitarian”]

Millen Magese has made a name for herself as an international model and humanitarian. She is 5 feet 11 inches; she stands tall and regal, and commands attention rocking the runways of Johannesburg, Lagos, New York and New Delhi.

Her Inspiring Story

Truly not all that glitters is gold. However, Millen decides to make lemonade from the lemons life throws at her. This beautiful journey that will later have a beautiful outcome in her life started when she decided to go on social media to share with the world her story of living with endometriosis – a medical challenge that she has struggled with since she was 13 years old and began experiencing chronic pelvic pain during her menstrual cycle – she could not have anticipated the ensuing response. Her refreshing and courageous openness about this often taboo subject instantly endeared her to a multitude of people, especially others who suffer from the disease and their loved ones.

After dealing with the reality of endometriosis for years in private, what prompted this change of heart?

Magese says: “I was not always open about it until my wake-up call in February.” Endometriosis can cause infertility in women of child-bearing age, and earlier this year,

Magese underwent an egg-retrieval procedure in order to save her eggs and provides her with a chance of having children in the future: “I was only able to produce three eggs. It takes its toll on you emotionally, in addition to the financial commitment involved. And when the trail to save my fallopian tubes came to naught, it was at this point that I decided to talk about it.”

Her Humanitarian Involvement

She was featured on BBC AFRICA, and in this video she explains what endometriosis is, and the difficulties of talking about the condition as an African Woman. To get the message across, she established a foundation and begun an awareness campaign via social media. Millen also took her campaign on the awareness of Endometriosis, so that people within the grass root who suffer such can get aid from government and international bodies.

Most Fulfilling Moment

Millen Magese delivered a baby boy after 13 years of battling Endometriosis. She named him Kairo. Millen’s joy knows no bound as she encourages other women with Endometriosis not to give up in their fight to overcoming this medical condition that has affected over 176 million women world over.

Millen Magese is one of the 30 Extraordinary Voices featured in the Women’s Month Series by AWLO. Click on your favorite social media button below to share if you have been inspired by Millen Magese


Extraordinary Voices: Kirsty Coventry, Swimming Icon, Seven-time Olympic Gold Medalist, and Founder of Kirsty Coventry Foundation 

“Sport has the power to bring us together but our Flag has the power to keep us united.” Kirsty Coventry

Kirsty Leigh Coventry was born on 16th September, 1983 in Harare, Zimbabwe to Rob and Lyn Coventry. She attended Dominican Convent High School, Harare, Zimbabwe. While at Auburn University, Alabama, USA, she swum competitively winning several medals.

A Woman of Great Worth

Coventry made her maiden debut at the world’s biggest sporting showcase as a sprightly 16-year-old Dominican Convent High School’s pupil at the 2000 Sydney Games in Australia.

She made top ten finalists for Zimbabwe National Sports Person of the Year in 1999. Swam at the All-Africa Games in the same year. Qualified at the South Africa Senior Championships for the Olympics in 100 backstroke, 200 IM, 100 freestyle and 50 free. In 1998, she competed in the Commonwealth Games where she made semi finals in the 200 IM.

In the year 2000, Coventry was named Zimbabwean’s Sports Woman of the Year for being the first Zimbabwean woman to reach the semi finals at the Olympics. She accomplished this feat while she was yet in high school.

Coventry Breaks World Swimming Record

The Zimbabwe swimmer, Kirsty Coventry, set a new world record of 2 minutes .91 seconds in the 200m backstroke, at the 9th FINA World Swimming Championship in Manchester, England. She had already won gold in the 100m backstroke and her first world record in the 400m Individual Medley.

Her time of four minutes and 26.52 seconds in the 400 meter Individual Medley at the 2004 Summer Olympics, in Athens, Greece makes her the fastest woman. There she won the Olympic medals; a gold, a silver, and a bronze.

In 2008, at the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, she won four medals; a gold, and three silver. For accomplishing this great feat, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe awarded her $100,000 US dollars in cash.

The Swimming Icon becomes an Inspiration to Children, Youth and Athletes

In 2012, she was elected to the IOC Athletes’ Commission where she will serve for eight years. A member of the ANOCA Athletes Commission and Vice-President of the Zimbabwe Olympic Committee.

In 2013, Coventry and her husband Tyrone Seward undertook a tour where she visited schools in all ten provinces of Zimbabwe. The tour gave her insight into the communities, to know what they needed and how she could use her experience in swimming to benefit them. The tour not only informed her vision to inspire children and youth to become their own heroes through the experience and knowledge she has gained as a swimming icon, it became also the source of her inspiration to launch HEROES; a scheme designed to empower children in her country through swimming, and in turn, build stronger and safer communities.

“Our vision is to provide a national program, which includes other sports to provide all Zimbabweans with greater opportunities. Our aim is to save lives through our drowning prevention and awareness activities, empower individuals through our coaching and learn to play programs and uplift communities through our Ambassador Program that focuses on health and education”, said Coventry

In 2017 Kirsty Coventry, launched HEROES. The scheme would tackle the issue of drowning in Zimbabwe and also address other critical issues like the number of children who are out of school, teen pregnancies, drug and alcohol abuse, gender-based violence, and child marriages.

The two time national Flag-bearer will be the Chef Mission for the Zimbabwe delegation at the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires in 2018.


Extraordinary Voices: Liya Kebede; Advocating for Maternal health and African Designs

Liya Kebede was born on the 1st of March, 1978 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She is a model, maternal health advocate, clothing designer and actress. Liya has used her fame from modeling and acting to make progress and bring about awareness to her cause. AWLO recognizes her as one of our extraordinary voices in our women’s month series. Here is why we think she’s outstanding

HER FIGHT FOR MATERNAL HEALTH CARE

Liya Kebede is at the forefront of advancing maternal health care in her country; Ethiopia and also in most African countries. She says her passion began when she became a mother and realized that most women in her country and some underdeveloped parts of Africa die during child birth and this is because they do not have access to basic health care amenities

 “One of the number one killers of women still today is pregnancy and childbirth complications…These are all things that are ninety percent preventable and treatable because really they are dying from things that are very simple, and they are dying because they don’t have access to any kind of basic medical care or trained nurse or caregiver, really…”

In 2005 she was appointed as WHO’s ambassador for maternal newborn and child birth. To further advance her cause, she started the Liya Kebede Foundation now known as the LemLem foundation that same year.

THE LEMLEM FOUNDATION

The Lemlem foundation founded by Liya kebede is aimed at creating awareness and helping the fight to combat maternal mortality. Liya sights in an interview how the issue of maternal health isn’t receiving enough attention, hence the need for the foundation;

“We wanted to focus on raising awareness of the issue because it was an issue that had been going on for so long, but not really getting the attention it deserved…”

The foundation works to promote access to health care and economic opportunities and also supports leading organizations working to reduce maternal and new born deaths in Africa. She has been able to through her foundation train midwives and has set goals to still train midwives across several African countries including Ethiopia, Tanzania, Senegal, South Sudan and Uganda.

SUPPORT FOR AFRICAN DESIGNS

Liya is not only an advocate and model, but she is also a designer with a clothing company. She has used her company to work in collaboration with her foundation to empower women and African artist. All the products which the company offers are hand-made by African artists. She explains in an interview how she was able to create a solution to help women and artists;

“I was walking around the city in Ethiopia and visited all of these incredible weavers who were really struggling to find work or a market for their goods because of Westernization and fast fashion. I just thought this was a feel-good way of creating a market for them, improving their skill, and bringing a new product to the marketplace for the consumer that has a story and more of a 360 product that is also changing the lives of people…”

She not only uses these means to further her cause but also writes for the Huffington Post and others to bring about more exposure on the need for good maternal health care. She continues fighting this cause hoping that one day, African maternal health care will be up to standard

“My aim, during that time and since then, has been to inspire others to feel as passionate about this cause as I do and to lend their support to reach more mums and save more lives.”

She is one of the 30 Extraordinary Voices featured in the Women’s Month Series by AWLO. Click on your favorite social media button below to share if you have been inspired by Liya Kebede.


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