A 22-year-old activist and orphan from Cameroon, Babiene Heline Eweni, has emerged the star prize winner for the 2019 Future Africa Leader’s Awards (FALA) organized by the Chris Oyakhilome Foundation.
She was among the top ten winners from among 15million Youths that participated in various projects across the African continent initiated by the Future Africa Leaders Foundation – Africa’s foremost Non-Governmental Organization that promotes quality and exemplary leadership among young people on the continent and beyond. The other nine winners were Christian Appiah (Togo) Daniel Johnson Fernandez (Benin Republic) Xavier Tambiavula (Angola) Hanson Hanson (Nigeria) Vera Kissiedu (Ghana) Edgar Mwila (Zambia) Rufaro Mutyamaenza (Zimbabwe) Kenedy Wesonga (Kenya) Ibrahim Byakika Uganda).
Nobel Laureate and former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf who was the special Guest of Honour described the event as one of the key elements of the New Year’s Eve Service impacting the lives of others.
She praised the winners saying, “You’ve been able to promote activities and change the lives of others,” This sentiment reflected in the words of Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, “you will never have fulfilment until you live for other people,”
Pastor T.T Odun, the host, described young Eweni as somebody who has been passionate about seeing young people reach their potential, even risking her in the process.
According to him, Young Eweni has visited 35 refugee camps in Nigeria helping improve the plight of the Cameroonian refugees there.
“She took steps to improve the living conditions of Cameroonian during the worst social-political conflict Cameroon has ever witnessed. Cameroon has seen the emergence of the militias’ party fighters who are determined to oppose the government by stopping the children from going to school. She was so concerned than an entire generation of youth will be lost without the education she was moved to act.
“She was abducted, beaten and held in captivity. This left her paralyzed and using a wheelchair. On her recovery, she was undaunted and returned to her work working on behalf of and vulnerable in her nation. She was awarded the Star Prize for her vision, for her courage for her leadership.
“Her enthusiasm for youth empowerment had led her to host a six-week skill acquisition workshop as part of the Leadership Initiative Awards scheme of FALF. This led to hundreds of youths developing skills in catering, fashion design, soap making, carpentry, and hairdressing.
“Her sense of justice and zeal for the youth empowerment that saw her train hundreds of young people to acquire relevant skills for economic independence she extended this to over 200 physically challenged persons.
“She wants to equip the disabled for a life of self-reliance, development, and independence in a program called disabilities of the mind. They received training in the art of manicure and pedicure, phone repair, makeup and computer maintenance. She awarded the top three candidates in each category cash prizes worth of over $2,000,” he added.
All the winners get cash prize of $10,000 each as well as awards and the star prize winner will get an additional N25,000.