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28 Badass Young People Making The World A Better Place

Kicking ass, changing lives.

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Between scare stories about selfie sticks, Snapchat, and the decline of civilisation, young people get a bad rep. Don't listen. Young people are doing incredible things.

To prove it, the Queen's Young Leader Award recognises exceptional (badass) people aged 18–29 who are transforming lives.

This year there are 60 winners, who will all receive training, mentoring, and support to continue and develop the amazing work they are already doing in their communities.

Here are 28 of the winners and their inspiring stories:

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1. Tanyaradzwa Daringo, 23, Namibia

Google Maps / Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

Daringo is a co-founder of Her Liberty Namibia, which focuses on giving young women confidence in all aspects of their lives. She is also launching the MiChange project to give girls a second chance of resitting their final-year exams.

Daringo’s goal is to build self-confidence in young women and give them a greater voice in Namibia and the rest of Southern Africa.

2. Mallah Enow Tabot, 26, Cameroon

Google Maps / Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

Tabot has worked hard to improve the lives of many young women in Cameroon, including those at risk of early and forced marriages. Her organisation, United Vision for Women, uses theatre and art to engage communities and change attitudes.

Now Tabot also wants to achieve better sexual and reproductive health for teenage girls.

3. Regina Mtonga, 27, Zambia

Google Maps / Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

Mtonga is co-founder of Asikana Network, an organisation that trains Zambian girls and young women in information and communications technology skills so they can find better jobs and realise their potential. Mtonga is planning to link Network members to mentors in order to develop their skills further in the future.

Find out more about Asikana Network here.

4. Nosipho Bele, 25, South Africa

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Bele is determined to help other young women. During her training to become a teacher she set up a programme called Mentor Me to Success, which provides one-to-one support to school pupils, especially girls. She wants to develop this service, prioritising underprivileged schools and communities.

5. Caren Nelima Odanga, 21, Kenya

Odanga founded the Sisari Women Initiative to support and educate women in rural Kenya. Having grown up in a community where domestic violence, forced marriage, FGM, and teenage pregnancy were the norm and having suffered a traumatic childhood herself, she was supported by the Yaya Education Trust to return to school after becoming a mother.

These experiences inspired her to set up the Sisari Women Initiative.

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6. Alain Nteff, 22, Cameroon

Google Maps / Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

Nteff is a co-founder of GiftedMom, which helps to reduce maternal and infant mortality in rural Cameroon, where a pregnant woman or newborn dies each hour from a preventable cause.

The project uses SMS alerts to notify pregnant women about antenatal care and vaccinations for newborns. Nteff wants the service to help up to 5 million people in central Africa.

Find out more about GiftedMom here.

7. Nkechikwu Azinge, 26, Nigeria

Google Maps / Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

Azinge grew up with close family members who had the hereditary blood disorder sickle-cell anaemia. After witnessing the physical, mental, and emotional challenges it can lead to, she set up the Sickle Cell Aid Foundation.

The organisation encourages people to get tested to know their haemoglobin genotype, and has set up sickle-cell clubs in schools to inform and educate young people about the condition.

Find out more about the Sickle Cell Aid Foundation here.

8. Isaiah Owolabi, 27, Nigeria

Owolabi co-founded HACEY Health Initiative, which helps disadvantaged women and children to lead healthy lives. In 2012, HACEY launched Hands Up for Her, which promotes the rights of African girls.

The Queen's Young Leaders Award will help HACEY develop its Women's Health and Productivity project, which aims to ensure that women in rural areas have access to health services and training.

Find out more about HACEY here.

9. Patrice Madurai, 22, South Africa

Google Maps / Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

Many township residents in South Africa are not registered citizens and without identification documents it is difficult for them to work or sit school exams. To help these residents, Madurai founded Cupcake reSolution.

The project hosts mobile offices to enable people to register as citizens. As another way to reach out to the community, Cupcake reSolution also takes cupcakes into schools for children who have never celebrated birthdays.

10. Jerome Cowans, 25, Jamaica

Google Maps / Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

Raised in one of Jamaica’s most disadvantaged communities, Cowans feared he was heading in the wrong direction. Realising that problems in his community stemmed from a lack of youth support, he co-founded Leaders Endeavouring for Adolescent Development.

The project provides personal development opportunities for young people so they can go on to better futures.

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11. Nadia Hitimana, 26, Rwanda

Hitimana is the health and hygiene manager for Sustainable Health Enterprise. This organisation tackles the issues surrounding menstrual health by establishing businesses that produce affordable menstrual pads. Its programme also provides education to change attitudes and improve the lives of women in Rwanda.

Find out more here.

12. Donnya Piggott, 25, Barbados

Google Maps / Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

Piggott had to overcome prejudice and personal challenges when she decided to set up an advocacy group for sexual minorities. Barbados – Gays and Lesbians and All-sexuals Against Discrimination (B-Glad) is the lone LGBT human-rights organisation on the island.

Piggott has engaged with the Barbadian prime minister about issues facing the LGBT community and hopes to continue supporting marginalised young people in her country.

Find out more about B-Glad here.

13. Emma Dicks, 26, South Africa

Google Maps / Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

Dicks co-leads Innovate South Africa, which runs a programme called InChallenge that asks students to identify a problem in their community and propose a solution to it. Dicks also launched Code for Cape Town, which introduces girls to web-building skills.

Find out more about Code for Cape Town here.

14. Angela Benedicto Mnagoza, 28, Tanzania

Following the death of her mother and her aunt, Mnagoza worked in domestic service, where she was abused and exploited by her employer. She now promotes the rights of child domestic workers, educating this marginalised workforce and attempting to change attitudes towards it.

15. Rosimay Venancio, 25, Canada

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After moving to Canada from Angola at the age of 9, Venancio is now studying health policy at university on a full scholarship. She wants to run a programme to support young people in foster care to pursue a higher education in order to break out of the cycle of poverty.

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16. Brighton Kaoma, 21, Zambia

Google Maps / Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

Kaoma believes in using radio and low-cost communication technologies to educate young people. He is the co-founder of Agents of Change, which equips participants with leadership and radio skills. He also co-designed the Zambia U-report SMS platform, which allows young people to text counsellors with questions about HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.

17. Diana Nakaweesa, 25, Uganda

Since the age of 17, Nakaweesa has strived to help vulnerable women and children in her community. Three years ago, she launched Young Mothers' Support Group, which mentors women aged 14 to 30. She has gained funding for projects to train women and children in skills ranging from knitting to shoemaking.

18. Alzima Elisha Bano, 28, Fiji

Google Maps / Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

Having been involved in youth work for a number of years, Bano set up Advocacy (through) Creative Techniques in June 2014. The organisation uses the arts to make young people more aware of local issues that affect their community. Bano is planning to hold workshops to encourage young people to become positive role models.

19. Erna Takazawa, 26, Samoa

Google Maps / Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

After finding out that her sister was shortsighted, Takazawa discovered how expensive it was to buy glasses in Samoa. She studied optometry in New Zealand and became Samoa’s first and only optometrist.

Her efforts in promoting the need for affordable eye care have helped lead to free eye care for under-16s and over-65s, free glasses for children, and more affordable glasses for adults.

20. Teocah Dove, 26, Trinidad and Tobago

Dove has 10 years of experience in the voluntary sector and worked on projects which focus on gender, vulnerable women, HIV/AIDS, and youth development. She hopes winning a Queen's Young Leaders Award will help raise the profile of her work.

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21. Philip Cole, 29, Sierra Leone

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Cole (known as PJ) moved from Sierra Leone to the UK to study law, where he joined LifeLine Community Projects, supporting vulnerable young people. In 2012 he was asked to restructure the school and home for ex-child-soldiers that was established by his father in Sierra Leone.

Cole now directs a safe home, four schools, and a vocational skills programme that helps young people to be community leaders.

Find out more about Lifeline Nehemiah Projects here.

22. Nondumiso Hlophe, 28, Swaziland

Google Maps / Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

Hlophe has been a dedicated volunteer in schools and hospitals for many years and in 2012 she founded a Global Shapers Community Hub. This youth-led hub supports the local community in a number of ways, including providing weekly bilingual reading and comprehension groups at the National Library.

Hlophe is planning to provide training and skills workshops to help close the gender gap in education and employment.

Find out more about the Global Shapers Community Hub here.

23. Nicola Byrom, 28, United Kingdom

In her teens, Byrom fought mental health difficulties. While studying for a PhD in Psychology at Oxford University she founded Student Minds to provide peer support for students experiencing mental-health difficulties. Today the charity has hundreds of volunteers at more than 30 universities in the UK.

Find out more about Student Minds here.

24. Kavindya Thennakoon, 19, Sri Lanka

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Thennakoon was raised by her mother after her police-officer father died while fighting the country’s drug trade. Realising education would be the key to her success, Thennakoon studied hard while volunteering for organisations including the Girl Guides.

She recently founded Without Borders, which aims to tackle the lack of quality education and employment.

25. Akshay Jadhao, 27, India

Google Maps / Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

Jadhao grew up in the rural farming region of Vidarbha. There, transport, basic education, and access to the internet are not readily available and unemployment among the young is rife. Jadhao launched education and skills courses in a bid to improve the job opportunities and future prospects of hundreds of young people.

26. Emily Smith, 23, Australia

Smith is a community and Girl Guide leader, and works on various projects that focus on gender-based issues. She helped to deliver a campaign called Free Being Me, which encourages body confidence and self-esteem, and was also chosen to attend the United Nation's Commission on the Status of Women.

She is now working to run the Stop the Violence Campaign and its Voices Against Violence curriculum.

27. Tabitha Besley, 23, New Zealand

Google Maps / Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

When Besley came out at 15, she was helped by a school support group for both gay and straight students. Despite being bullied, she became leader of the group and expanded it to include people in the wider community.

In 2012 she set up InsideOUT, which aims to make schools more inclusive places for young LGBT people.

Find out more about Inside Out here.

28. Javon Liburd, 24, Saint Kitts and Nevis

Google Maps / Daniel Dalton / BuzzFeed

Liburd was raised singlehandedly by his mother. Despite facing financial hardship, she instilled in him the value of education. This inspired Liburd to set up J3H, a project that helps young people in his community.

J3H has raised funds to give prizes to outstanding students from village schools.

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