Being a child of mixed heritage in Germany, as well as the first to study in my family, I have had to demonstrate a great deal of perseverance and determination to be able to move forward in life. Growing up, I realized first-hand how overly similar public discussions are and how this often leads to uniform decisions that are inherently unrepresentative of the people they affect. I have felt first-hand the effects of scarcity, poverty, and the resulting stigmatization around it, and how that has shaped my life and the lives of people around me. . I saw how important resources are unevenly distributed and I soon came to realize that this is the case both within and between nations.
Growing up in Germany ensured that my basic needs were met. However, life would have been very different had I been born in Sierra Leone like my father. Despite being abundantly rich in resources, my father‘s birthplace is considered one of the world‘s poorest countries. There, 60% of the population live below the national poverty line and 70% of all young people are either under-employed or unemployed.
From a very young age, I felt quite strongly about the injustices and inequalities close to and far away from home. In fact, my dissatisfaction with the status quo encouraged me to study psychology later in life. I was driven to investigate and understand human behavior to re-shape the public discourse and ultimately to use the right psychological tools to positively impact society. Having been consistently active in the fight against global inequalities, I joined ONE‘s Youth Ambassador program between 2016 and 2018.
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Working as a Youth Ambassador
Alongside many other young and driven activists, I advocated for measures targeted at ending extreme poverty and preventable diseases, the economic empowerment of girls and women, and sustainable development, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. I met with national leaders, global leaders, and political decision-makers to discuss the importance of development instruments, such as the Global Fund. I talked to fellow citizens and journalists about the effects of extreme poverty to raise awareness and to discuss the ways in which resources can and should be redistributed. I urged people to sign petitions, attended protests, and participated in various media stunts that helped shed light on corruption and the need for quality education.
I was able to acquire an invaluable amount of knowledge as well as skills that prepared me for later chapters of my life. My personal highlight? Being able to represent German youth at the 2018 Youth 7 — a formal G7 Engagement Group Summit — in Ottawa, Canada. There, 32 youth delegates from across the G7 were tasked to formulate concrete policy recommendations in the areas of gender equality, the future of work, and climate and environment. I represented German youth on gender equality, a challenging task that I would have not felt adequately prepared for had I not been so involved in ONE‘s Poverty is Sexist campaign.
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The process was incredibly stimulating and demanding, but also gratifying because, in the end, the Y7 recognized that girls and women living in extreme poverty are most vulnerable to gender disparities. Concretely, we proposed that our respective nation‘s ODA should amount to 0.7% of their gross national income and that the allocation of the funds should primarily focus on providing women with fundamental human rights by removing systematic barriers to basic financial services, quality education, and land tenure.
My official time as a Youth Ambassador ended when I graduated from my undergraduate degree in psychology and moved to Costa Rica to work in the development sector. I helped conceptualize a region-wide youth outreach strategy, supported and led various strategy processes to help strengthen small businesses and the local economy, and worked on disaster risk reduction and resilience initiatives within the informal settlements of Portmore, Jamaica.
Today, I am based in London where I currently explore the intersection of behavioral science, sociology, and economic theory while pursuing an M.Sc at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Alongside my studies, I am a visiting scholar at Harvard Business School where I focus on economic inequalities and intergroup relations.
Through all of this, I‘ve finally found a way to combine my love for psychology with my deep-rooted desire to drive social change towards more inclusive and egalitarian societies. After my time at LSE, I will be working on the design of evidence-based and human-centered solutions for social policy and poverty alleviation initiatives as a Mercator Fellow on International Affairs.
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Looking back on where my activism has taken me after my time at ONE, being part of the ONE campaign and particularly the ONE Youth Ambassador program played a huge role in my personal and professional development. It helped me find my calling and it helped me identify myself as an activist – an active participant within the sociopolitical landscape. In many ways, this journey reassured me that change is possible if enough people demand it. It provided me with the necessary tools and knowledge to achieve it and with the right network of like-minded people to support my goals and create change. . It showed me the power of young people and motivated me to inspire and empower others to join the battle against inequalities and unjust systems.
If you are reading this and are looking to make a change but do not know where to start: ONE might just be that place of action for you.
Learn more about our Global Activist program.