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Nigerian Student Wins $10,000 AFS Award in US
A Nigerian student studying in the United States, Noel Ifeanyi Alumona, has won the 2022 AFS Award for Young Global Citizens and became the first African to win the prize since its inception in 1914. The award was presented during the International Youth Day organised by the United Nations Global Communications Department, the AFS Intercultural Programs and The Youth Assembly at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Noel, who is studying at Vanderbilt University, United States, smiled home with a cash prize of $10,000 in recognition of his vigorous campaign to end violence against women and girls through proper orientation of boys on responsible behaviour. The award recognises the work of young people worldwide for their commitment to improving the global community and contributing to a more just, peaceful, and tolerant world. Aside from the star prize winner, Mariana Reyes and Larissa Cevallos emerged second place winners with a $2,500 prize award.
Noel, who hails from Enugu State, beat the other 500 contestants after a strenuous and rigorous selection process and interviews, from where 10 finalists were selected from over 200 applications. The winner, also a 2018 Obama Foundation Fellow of the African Leaders programme, explained that the inspiration for the formation of Boys Champion came in 2018 after he met with Barack Obama in Johannesburg as an Obama Foundation Fellow. It was an encounter that transformed his worldview and ignited in him the flaming zeal to make a positive impact in his community.
On October 1, 2018, he formed the Boys Champions as a youth-focused group committed to providing safe space for young boys and training them to become part of the solution to ending societal violence and prejudice against women and girls in Nigerian communities. According to him, some obnoxious cultural and religious practices infringe on women’s rights, for which Boys Champion launched the campaign for change.
Noel said his organisation would organise a leadership conference in Enugu where speakers from the United Nations, Harvard University and Vanderbilt University would tutor participants on leadership.
Recounting his past experiences in his community, Udenu LGA, Enugu State, Noel explained that he spent over five years teaching, monitoring and evaluating students’ performance. According to him, neglecting children with special needs and other vulnerable groups does not guarantee an inclusive education system, which every country should aspire to achieve.
“At the moment, Nigeria is at the end of the bridge on global rankings for special education support. I am happy to continue to offer my voice to conversations that will inspire change in Nigeria, Africa and across the world. As I always say, Africans will change Africa and I am happy to lead that change from my own community through Boys Champions and Hope for African Children,” he said.
Noel promised to remain resolute in improving access to education for vulnerable children, children displaced by Boko Haram and insurgent attacks, as well as millions of out-of-school children in Nigeria. He promised to always look out for victims of disasters and violent extremism in Nigeria through his Hope for African Children, a community-based organization he founded in 2013 that increases access to education for children with disabilities and vulnerable children in underserved communities.
While celebrating Noel’s global award, ex-Governor Sullivan Chime described the recognition as noble while assuring that the future belongs to Enugu youths.