Three Kenyans, Ms. Chebet Lesan, Mr. Towett Ngetich and Ms. Domtila Chesang were on Thursday 29th June 2017 awarded the 2017 Queen’s Young Leaders Award for their life-changing work in their communities. They were among 59 winners of the Annual Award that brings together participants from all Commonwealth Countries.
The Queen’s Young Leader Award recognises and celebrates exceptional people aged 18-29 from across the Commonwealth, who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives. Winners of this prestigious Award received a unique package of training, mentoring and networking, including a one-week residential programme in the UK during which they collected their Award from Her Majesty The Queen.
Ms. Chebet Lesan: BrightGreen Renewable Energy
Chebet is dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers of indoor air pollution among the millions who cook over open fires. She founded BrightGreen Renewable Energy in order to turn the problem of waste in Kenya into a means to solve another problem – the issue of unsafe and unsustainable cooking fuel. Today, under her leadership, BrightGreen has processed more than 80 tonnes of clean cooking fuel from recycled waste, through the production of smokeless fuel briquettes that reduce indoor air pollution by up to 80%. In addition, the organisation fights deforestation by replanting trees as a source of energy, trains early school leavers on how to make BrightGreen’s products, and teaches women how to run their own sustainable businesses. Chebet’s dream is to see these solutions expanded to other African communities experiencing similar challenges.
Ms. Domtila Chesang: Kepsteno Rotwo Tipin CBO
Domtila is working to end female genital mutilation (FGM) in Kenya. She co-founded the group Kepsteno Rotwo Tipin CBO – “Let’s Abandon The Knife”. After helping to end the practice in her own village, Domtila now visits other communities to champion girls’ education and support the eradication of FGM and early forced marriages. She conducts workshops, training and seminars and has established alternative rite of passage ceremonies for young people. Domtila also believes that men need to take an active role in helping to end FGM and she is planning to hold a Warriors’ Festival to engage their support. The event will bring together men from remote villages to be trained on the negative health implications of FGM.
Mr. Towett Ngetich: Uthabiti
Towett is the founder and chief executive of Uthabiti, formerly Daktari Thabiti (“reliable doctor”). The social enterprise aims to tackle the problem of counterfeit drugs by verifying the provenance and safety of medicines. It does this through a portable scanner for suppliers and a mobile app for consumers that installs a digital scanner onto a phone to help identify the legitimacy of drugs by scanning their batch numbers. Towett has also helped launch Onward, a social action platform, which encourages young people to volunteer to make changes in their communities in five main areas: education, healthcare, urban development, peace and cohesion, and women, youth and vulnerable groups.
The Queen’s Young Leaders Programme is a partnership between The Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee Trust, Comic Relief, The Royal Commonwealth Society and The University of Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education.
Visit The Queen’s Young Leaders website to apply for the 2018 Queen’s Young Leaders Award. Applicants must be aged between 18 and 29 throughout 2018 (your date of birth must fall between 1st January 1989 – 1st January 2000), a citizen of a Commonwealth country and working to improve the lives of others.
Photos below were taken when the three award winners paid a courtesy call on the High Commissioner H.E Lazarus Amayo