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HEALTH

Meet 4 women who are fighting Malaria on the frontline

25 April 2017 2:23PM UTC | By: GUEST BLOGGER

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This blog was originally posted on the Frontline Health Workers Coalition Blog. To view the original, please go to their blog, here.

Filumba, Judy, Bertha and Sule are protecting their communities from the world’s deadliest animal – the mosquito.  

They work for a US-funded project called Africa Indoor Residual Spraying (AIRS) that helps prevent malaria by spraying the walls of homes with insecticide.  And thanks in part to their efforts, this program has protected over 54 million people from malaria.

Here is more about the work they do and why they do it.

Meet Filumba, pictured here with her son Richard. As a Team Leader, Filumba manages a team of seven spray operators in the Samfya District in Zambia.

 

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In an interview with the AIRS team, she explains, “As a woman I have experienced what it is like to care for sick family members because of malaria. When I had my house sprayed, my problem was solved. So as a woman, I understand how to explain the benefits to people. Our strength comes from experience.”

And her perseverance has paid off: The income she’s earned from the project has enabled her son, Richard, to attend university.

Meet Judy, pictured here using her mobile phone that doubles as her bank account. Judy works as a Team Leader in the Mansa District, a neighbouring district to Filumba’s.

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A single mother of three children, she tells AIRS staff “the project has changed my life. I’ve built a house and sent my children to school with the money I’ve earned.”

In the future, we don’t want children to be denied access to their rights like women were in the past. The world is recognising that a woman has a role to play and there is nothing she can’t do.”

Meet Sule, a 20-year-old spray operator working in the Bunkpurugu District in Ghana, far from Ghana’s capital city of Accra.

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Like Filumba, Sule says that being a spray operator is a hard job. She works for hours in the hot sun, wearing layers of protective clothing and gloves. Knowing that she is protecting people from getting sick keeps her motivated.

Meet Bertha, AIRS’ information, education and communications manager in Bunkpurugu District in Ghana.

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She grew up in the district’s capital and speaks the local language, Moar, which is important because many people where she works cannot read.

Communicating in a language familiar with the community, she uses community meetings, radio talk shows and pictures to educate the community about indoor residual spraying.

Through strong treatment and prevention efforts – like what Filumba, Judy, Bertha and Sule do – the world has cut malaria deaths in half since 2000. Still, this preventable and curable disease takes the lives of nearly 50 people every hour, most of whom are young children living in Africa.

To find out more about what you can do to get involved, check all the social activity for World Malaria Day!

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25 April 2017 2:23PM UTC

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JULY 24, 2017

It Happens Here, Too: 9 Dead in Human Trafficking Incident in Texas

As many as 100 people trapped in an overheated semitrailer.

By Colleen Curry

Brought to you by: CHIME FOR CHANGE

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trafficking_texas_ap.jpgSan Antonio police officers investigate the scene where eight people were found dead in a tractor-trailer loaded with at least 30 others outside a Walmart store in stifling summer heat in what police are calling a horrific human trafficking case, Sunday, July 23, 2017, in San Antonio. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
 

It’s easy to think of human trafficking as something brutal that happens somewhere else.

But today, a story of human smuggling in San Antonio, Texas, in which 10 people died and nearly 30 more were injured, is a reminder that human trafficking is a problem that happens everywhere.

A semi trailer parked in a Walmart parking lot in the hot Texas sun was found to have nearly 40 people trapped inside of it on Sunday. The truck had no air conditioning and the temperature outside was more than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, according to ABC News.  

When police arrived on the scene shortly after midnight, eight of the individuals inside were dead from the heat, another 20 were in critical condition, and eight had heat stroke or dehydration. Two of those in critical condition later died, too, according to USA Today.

Police were notified by a Walmart employee who was approached by someone from the truck begging for water, according to ABC News.

Read More: 5 Myths About Human Trafficking

Police are not sure how long the truck was in the parking lot, but surveillance video showed multiple cars coming into the parking lot and picking up people from the truck, ABC reported. Police said that there may have been as many as 100 people in the back of the truck at one point. Some escaped into nearby woods.  

Most of those inside were men in their thirties and forties, according to police. There were also two “school-aged” children.

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The victims were believed to be from Mexico, according to USA Today. The incident comes amid a crackdown on illegal immigration from Mexico under US President Donald Trump, including more deportations of immigrants found to be in the US illegally.

"We're looking at a human-trafficking crime here," San Antonio Police Chief William McManus said at a news conference today.

McManus said that the “horrific tragedy” was “not an isolated incident.”

Read More: UN Urging Flight Attendants to Help Stop Human Trafficking

“This happens quite frequently ... fortunately there are people who survived, but this happens all the time,” he said.

The truck driver, James Matthew Bradley Jr., 60, of Clearwater, Fla., was in federal custody in San Antonio, U.S. Attorney Richard Durbin Jr. said.

"All were victims of ruthless human smugglers indifferent to the wellbeing of their fragile cargo," Durbin said. "The South Texas heat is punishing this time of year. These people were helpless in the hands of their transporters. Imagine their suffering, trapped in a stifling trailer in 100-plus degree heat."

Trafficking is a problem throughout the world, including the United States. According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline, there were 7,500 cases of human trafficking reported in 2016 — up from 5,526 in the previous year. California, Texas, and Florida are the states with the highest rates of reports. There are many more cases that go unreported throughout the country.

Read More: One-Third of Trafficked Humans Are Kids, UN Says

The term “human trafficking” can be used to describe sex trafficking — in which girls and sometimes boys are forced into sex work — or labor trafficking in which people are forced to do other types of work.

Inside the US, trafficking often involves domestic workers such as maids or cleaning staff, hotel or motel staff, and agricultural workers, according to the group.

"Left unchecked, human trafficking will continue to flourish in environments where traffickers can reap substantial monetary gains with relatively low risk of getting caught or losing profits," the National Human Trafficking Hotline said on its site.

The deadly tragedy in San Antonio is a stark reminder of how brutal and dangerous trafficking is, no matter where it occurs.

Colleen Curry is a senior editor at Global Citizen. She has covered domestic and international news for outlets including ABC News, VICE News, and The New York Times, with a particular focus on women's issues, criminal justice, and LGBT rights. She is also pursuing her Master's in Creative Writing, and has had nonfiction published by Sports Illustrated and Marie Claire.

 

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JULY 24, 2017

The Adorable Reaction of a Young Girl Meeting ‘Wonder Woman’ Gal Gadot

"You're a warrior."

Meghan Werft

By Meghan Werft

 

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Meeting your idol can be overwhelming. That was certainly the case when a young girl met her ultimate idol, Wonder Woman, at Comic Con on Saturday.  

Gal Gadot, the star of “Wonder Woman,” was signing autographs at the annual sci-fi convention with fellow actors of her upcoming film, “Justice League,” when a young girl in tears, named Ashley, approached her for an autograph. 

“She was so happy to meet her that she was tearing up. Gal was so sweet to her,” Christine Keller, the author of the children’s book, “The Adventures of Danica Dreamer” and the mother of Ashley Keller, who met Gadot, said via Twitter

Read More: ‘Wonder Woman’ Slays at the Box Office, as Women Do

Gadot paused and held Ashley’s hand reminding her she is now friends with Wonder Woman. 

“We are friends, so there’s no reason to cry anymore, all right?” Gadot said

But Ezra Miller, who plays the Flash in “Justice League” alongside Gadot, chimed in with more encouragement for Ashley that her emotions are powerful. 

“You’re a warrior,” he said. “Your ability to cry is what makes you such a warrior. Come join the Justice League whenever you get ready.”

And Ashley wasn’t the only child overwhelmed at meeting their hero that day. A young boy in the video also smiled through tears as he met Ben Affleck, who stars as Batman in “Justice League.” 

The adorable encounter was followed by more exciting news: there will be a second “Wonder Woman” film

Warner Bros. entertainment announced on Saturday that the next film is coming as it shared a slide in its presentation on upcoming ventures, TIME reports.

Read More: This List of How Kids Are Reacting to ‘Wonder Woman’ Makes Us So Hopeful

“Wonder Woman” broke international records at the box-office as the highest grossing film ever directed by a woman. It’s also been inspiring children with an empowering message on gender equality since the film hit theaters in June this year.   The film’s director, Patty Jenkins, and Gal Gadot have not confirmed whether or not they will be a part of the sequel, but Jenkins told CNN that Gadot was a huge part of the reason the first film was so successful. 

“Not only do I believe in her, she blows me away," Jenkins told CNN. "It made it much easier to have the greatest Wonder Woman in the world put in the palm of my hand."

And until a “Wonder Woman” sequel is back in theaters, it’s encouraging to see an on-screen superhero take on a role empowering girls and women in her own everyday life. 

“These characters matter and can have a huge influence on young people,” Keller wrote on Facebook. “What a great role model and genuine, nice person. My daughter will always remember this moment for the rest of her life. Thank you, Gal Gadot!”

 

Meghan is an Editorial Coordinator at Global Citizen. She studied International Political Economy at the University of Puget Sound before moving to New York. She is a firm believer that education and awareness on interconnected global issues has the power to create a more sustainable, equal world where poverty does not exist.

 

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1340
TECHNOLOGY

How internet access is making a BIG difference at this primary school in Kenya

December 13 2016 | By: MEGAN IACOBINI DE FAZIO

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The generator comes back to life with a loud rumble, and a cheer rings through the classroom as the computer screens flicker back on. Break time has only just finished at Kibiko Primary School, but there is a scramble among the children to log onto their computers. The lesson is about to start, and they can’t wait.

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“I’ve noticed a change in attitude. The children used to be intimidated by subjects like math, but now it’s fun for them and they look forward to their time in the lab,” says Nelius Njiru, who teaches math, science, and Swahili at Kibiko.

Kibiko is one of 205 primary schools across four Kenyan counties to be part of the iMlango program, which aims to improve education by delivering internet access, computer labs, smartcard-based attendance monitoring, and online learning tools to primary school children.

The iMlango platform offers one-on-one math tuition and allows students to access a wealth of online content, including English lessons, African stories with a social message, and life skills training.

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Importantly, it also allows schools to collect accurate attendance data through sQuid Android tablets and contactless cards.

“Monitoring attendance and talking to parents and the community has helped us understand the reasons behind some children missing school so frequently,” says Patricia Wawira Ndwiga, the teacher in charge of iMlango at the school.

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And, while simply making class more fun with iMlango’s interactive lesson plans is enough to entice some children back to school, others have more serious reasons for missing class.

“I used to stay at home sometimes because we didn’t have food or I could not wash my uniform,” says Silvia, a Kibiko 7th grader who puts into words an experience that is common for many girls in Kenya. In some communities, when families are unable to cover the costs of their children’s education, the girls are usually the first to pay the price of poverty and stay home.

“Some people here think that girls should work, not study,” says Joan, a 7th-grade student. “When girls are educated they can achieve a lot for themselves and also help their community.” Some of the other girls in the classroom—who want to be neurosurgeons, lecturers, and journalists when they grow up—nod their heads in agreement.

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To help girls achieve a quality education, iMlango has also started offering financial incentives to the most underprivileged families. Five dollars are uploaded every fortnight onto a pink plastic smartcard, which is usually given to the women in the family and can only be used with selected merchants.

“My mother can buy soap and food with the pink card, and it helps a lot,” says Silvia. “I never miss school anymore.”

iMlango, which is supported by the Kenyan Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology and delivered by four companies working in partnership with the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), has already impacted the lives of 68,000 girls across Kenya.

And its impact is not limited to academic subjects. The program offers a variety of after-school activities, such as debate club and a tree club, where students can plant trees and learn about the environment. Girls especially are encouraged to work on issues affecting them and come up with their own projects, which they can then share with other schools in the network. For example, girls from a school in Makweni have created content on the importance of hand washing and good hygiene. At Kibiko, Silvia and her friends compete in the national debate competitions and, through the school’s girls’ club, have learned how to administer first aid and make healthy juices.

While the girls at Kibiko, like at many other schools around the world, face unique obstacles to their right to education, innovative programs like iMlango, together with the girls’ determination to rise above these obstacles, is giving them a chance to achieve their goals.

students-at-kibiko-primary

“It has given us a lot of confidence because we know that our computer, math, and English skills are as good as anyone else’s. We really know how to express ourselves now,” says Joan.

The teachers agree. According to Nelius, “iMlango is doing wonders for our children.”

Access to the internet isn’t a luxury—it’s life-changing. SIGN NOW and tell world leaders to commit to bringing connection to the least developed countries.

 

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Meet the woman teaching Ghana’s kids to code

January 8 2016 | By: JOY ELLIOTT

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This week, we’ve had the honor of speaking to Ghana Code Club founder Ernestina Edem Appiah about her rise from IT secretary to coder, business owner, NGO founder, and spearhead of coding in Ghanaian schools!

Photo credit: Ghana Code Club

Photo credit: Ghana Code Club

Thanks for chatting with us Ernestina! Can you tell us what the Ghana Code Club is about?

Technology is reinventing the world. Kids need new skills to prepare them for a successful career in the future but the current ICT (Information Communications Technology) curriculum does not include them which is quite alarming. This is where Ghana Code Club comes in. It is a volunteer led, after-school digital fun club that equips children between the ages of 8-17 years with coding skills. We have piloted with five schools and are ready to be launched into the majority of schools in Ghana during the first quarter of 2016.

What events in your life and career led you to create the Ghana Code Club?

I always dreamed of leading a team of IT professionals in creating cutting-edge solutions for Africa. This passion emerged when I worked for an IT firm in Accra back in 2000 as a secretary. I admired the IT consultants so much, especially the only lady among them. I remember I took home only about 10 percent of what the IT professionals earned at the time. I wanted to enroll on an HTML course (HTML is the standard coding language used to create webpages) but the little money I earned I used to take care of my siblings. Instead of waiting forever, I decided to teach myself any way I could. I got in touch with a web designer who for a small fee introduced me to the basics of HTML. I practiced any time I got the chance and within weeks, I was designing my own websites.

Eventually, with more confidence in my skills, I took out a  classified ad promoting myself as a virtual assistant and took on four clients, including one web-based telecom company in the USA. In 2004, I was able to resign as a secretary, rent an office, and eventually hire people to provide additional support.

A mere company’s secretary who was almost not noticed turned it around to become a business owner with international clients, paying employee salaries, mentoring people, assisting start-ups financially in my own small way, paying for college education fees for not less than five people – all because of that small change I made in my life and the new skills I learned!

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Photo credit: Ghana Code Club

I was so grateful and so happy with my progress that I wanted to do something to empower others with the kind of skill set that got me this far. I registered the NGO, Healthy Career Initiative in 2007 with the objective of empowering students with the skill set they will need to thrive in the 21st century—but unfortunately it remained relatively inactive due to my heavy workload. Then I got married and had children and things slowed down even further as I realized I needed to work from home and be there for my kids when they needed me.

One day, when my boy was 5, I was searching the Internet for a simple programming platform to start teaching him and came across a blog about kids learning to code in the UK and the kind of things they were building that triggered my enthusiasm for my inactive NGO. All of a sudden, I wanted Ghanaian kids to create the same exciting digital stuff kids in the developed world were creating. Things like interactive stories, websites, games, and animation. Immediately, I put plans together and Ghana Code Club was born.

What is the best part of your job?

The best part of my job is being in the classroom with the kids feeling empowered that they have created things that can be used by another person from any part of the world. The smiles on their faces make me feel wonderful and hopeful that these kids will go on to develop the digital footprint of Ghana and Africa and impact the world as a whole.

edem educate

Photo credit: Ghana Code Club

Do you think Ghana needs to place more importance on technology and connectivity? How would this change the country?

Technology is the catalyst to development in every country so Ghana also needs to emphasise its importance and steer resources towards technological advancement.

Every home should have access to a computer and the Internet. Then if kids can get trained in the right skills, the country will breed more entrepreneurs, innovators and problem solvers who are needed in every ministry to develop logical thinking, persist at tasks, and learn to collaborate to develop the nation and the world.

What are your aims for 2016?

We aim to launch into 20 or more schools within the first quarter of 2016, reaching no less than 20,000 children. We also hope to organize an inter-school competition to see the impact of creativity, problem-solving, and collaborative skills within our code club members. We then hope to establish a training center that will assist deprived children who, in one way or another, wish to participate in our code clubs but are unable to. We are always looking for support and donations to carry out our plans successfully!

Hillviews

Photo credit: Ghana Code Club

If, like Ernestina, you believe connectivity is key to achieving humankind’s Global Goals, head to our Connect the World page to pledge your support!

 

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19/07/2017

Summer is in full swing across the country in Music Generation

Summer is in full swing across the country in Music Generation

A host of summer camps are taking place for children and young people in all Music Generation areas of the country, providing opportunities for young musicians to enjoy music making throughout July and August.

Music Generation Carlow launched Boombrasstic, a new big band programme for Carlow, in partnership with Carlow College of Music.  Visiting Early Childhood experts Anna Newell and David Goodall also spent two weeks in Carlow town, working with Music Generation musicians from three counties to create work for the very youngest musicians!

The Cliffs of Moher were alive with the sound of Music Generation Clare and Music Generation Limerick City on the 12th of July, as more than 100 musicians of different genres and styles performed three shows in just over three hours, all with the support of Clare County Council. 

Summer_Activity_Collage.jpg

Young musicians in Cork City had the opportunity to write their own lyrics, rap, sing, make beats, record songs all as part of the GMC Beats Summer Camp in Knocknaheeny. While along the Lee young brass musicians took part in the Cork Summer Band Camp, and young singers tested their range as part of Summer Sing!

A range of musical genres are being explored through a variety of camps in Music Generation Laois, including The Music Generation Laois Trad Summer School and School of Rock and Pop,

Limerick City hosted The Great Big Summer Adventure at the Creative Centre and a Creative Workshops for Teens across various locations in Limerick City.

Corda Connections in Louth is an ideal summer camp for young string players aged 8 to 18 years – from those just starting out on their journey or instrumental learning to the very experienced looking to develop new skills. Music Generation Louth also had Pick up and Play Summer Sessions, a Youth Wind Band tour, and participants in the International Harp Festival, An Chúirt Chruitireachta.

Mayo was jammin’ this Summer with the Jam Bands camps in Claremorris; the Soundworlds Explorers Summer camp for ages 5 to 7 years; Parent and Toddler Sessions for ages 1 to 3; The Core; and the announcement of a new Harp Ensemble, for young harpists aged 10 to 18 years.

Singfesters, Edenderry Rockers, Mullingar Music Jammers, and young musicians in Birr are busy making music together with  Music Generation Offaly/Westmeath.

There’s a treat for all budding John Coltranes in Sligo, as the Sligo Jazz Project Youth Academy, Europe’s biggest summer school of jazz, prepares to get underway. And this week the hugely successful Musical Horizons Summer School 2017 sees participation from 145 participants age 7 to 17, working with 23 tutors in Summerhill College, Sligo. 

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The Music Generation South Dublin Traditional Ensemble officially launched at Ruaille Buaille, the Lucan Children’s Music Festival, which took place in June this year. All the young musicians from Music Generation South Dublin had a wonderful time participating and playing as part of it.

And summer is full of opportunities for young musicians at Music Generation Wicklow – including Rock Camps in three locations, a Traditional Music Camp, a Samba Drumming Camp and an iPad Music Camp for teenagers. 

That’s just a snapshot of the wonderful music-making happening across the country. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for daily news, updates, photos, videos and more from our partners throughout the summer months.

 

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Meet the Kenyan scientist who overcame gender stereotypes to fight malaria

18 August 2016 1:03PM UTC | By: GUEST BLOGGER

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At the vaccination ward, child Joan Medza has her weight taken.

On the vaccination ward, child Joan Medza has her weight taken.

By Katie G. Nelson

Growing up in Nairobi, Kenya, Dr. Faith Osier often dreamed of curing the world of deadly diseases like malaria, an illness spread by mosquitos that kills more than 438,000 people every year.

Several decades later, Osier, now 43, is at the forefront of the fight against malaria, spearheading the development of a vaccine that she believes could someday wipe out the disease.

The swaying palm trees and pristine beaches of Kenya’s coastal town of Kilifi is a beach-lover’s paradise. But away from the white-sand beaches and crystal clear water waits a serious and often deadly parasite—one that caused more than 10 percent of all Kilifi residents to fall ill last year.

But Osier believes that number could someday go down to zero.

Osier has worked out of Kilifi for the last 12 years, partnering with the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), Wellcome Trust, and the Kilifi County Hospital to develop a vaccine for malaria, which is endemic in most parts of Kenya’s coast.

FOsier

Osier first became intrigued by the idea of a vaccine—or more specifically, the ability to develop resistance to malaria—after working in the paediatric ward of the Kilifi County Hospital.

“Malaria is a very big problem, especially for Africa,” says Osier. “What we see in people who live in Africa is that it’s children under the age of 5 who get frequently ill—severely ill—and can die. But in the same areas, the adults seem to be resistant,” she adds. “They don’t seem to become ill or die.”

Aiming to better understand how adults acquire a resistance to malaria, Osier began studying how the body responds to the infection at different stages. Focusing on the role of antibodies— proteins created by the immune system to neutralise harmful substances, like infections—Osier dug into the complexities surrounding the ability to thwart malaria.

“We study people who are being exposed to malaria,” she says. “We look at their blood and their antibody responses and how they are responding. We know that antibodies are very important… and we believe that antibodies hold the key.”

At the vaccination ward, baby Sleiman Hamisi has his weight taken, the data inputted into the database, and then receives a vaccination.

Baby Sleiman Hamisi receives a vaccination.

While the molecular intricacies of proteins, antibodies and antigens might seem like the researcher’s biggest obstacle, Osier’s role as a female researcher in a male-dominated profession often presents an equally steep challenge, she says.

Osier said there have been many points in her career when she felt inhibited simply because she was a woman.

“(As a female) you’re conditioned to believe that (hard skills) are not for you,” she says. “It takes some help to shake that off and to say ‘Look! There’s someone who can do it! If they can, then so can I.’”

“I let my work speak for me,” she says.

But while her climb toward success has provided unique challenges, Osier is quick to add that being a female scientist also has its strengths.

“I bring a lot more compassion to my management and leadership skills and believe that I bring out the best in my team members because of this; in return they give back more than 100 percent,” she says. “That has been key to both my progress and theirs.”

But it’s not only her colleagues who recognise Osier’s work ethic and compassion-based leadership. In 2014, Osier won the Royal Society Pfizer Prize award, one of the most prestigious prizes in African science.

Calling it her “biggest achievement,” Osier says the award “gave me a real sense of satisfaction that with hard work, determination and vision, it was possible to achieve great things.”

At the vaccination ward, baby Sleiman Hamisi has his weight taken, the data inputted into the database, and then receives a vaccination.

At the vaccination ward, baby Sleiman Hamisi has his weight taken, the data inputted into the database.

While hard work and dedication remain the foundation to Osier’s career, the researcher is also quick to credit the role of mentors in her success.

“Mentors are really important. You can’t dream of something you can’t see,” she said.

That’s why it’s so important to expose young girls to “hard skills” like medicine and research, she said

“It’s exposure. It’s making research more visible and specifically targeting women,” she said. “In schools, in public meetings, village meetings… just letting girls see that they can be more than what the community is telling them.”

It’s that same urge to rise above obstacles that will help Osier achieve her ultimate goal: developing a highly effective malaria vaccine that is available, free of charge, to the poorest communities in rural Africa.

“I want women in our African villages to have the opportunity to take their children for vaccination against malaria and be able to move on with malaria behind them,” she says.

But how long will the world wait for a malaria vaccine?

“I’m confident that it will happen in my lifetime,” Osier said.

Dr. Faith Osier is a Kenyan scientist at the KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme and Visiting Professor at the University of Oxford.

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