Welcome to November!
Young people are proving that impossible is nothing. They are taking risks, breaking records and making history – this highlights our feature for this month. We are pleased to introduce Freeman Osonuga from Nigeria as Opportunity Desk Young Person of the Month for November 2015. He recently completed a six-month Medical Humanitarian Mission to Sierra Leone as part of African Union’s Ebola Response Team and is now among top three finalists in a competition to go to space. If he wins, he will be the First Black African in space.
Amazing? Find in the interview below everything from how he started to what drives him. Be inspired!
Freeman Osonuga, 31, is a multiple award-winning humanitarian and Medical Doctor. He is the Founder and Executive Director of Heal the World Foundation Nigeria, a charity organization that caters for Orphans, children with disabilities and the Less Privileged.
He recently got shortlisted as one of the three finalists for the Kruger Cowne Rising Star programme from thousands of applicants from more than 90 countries in his bid to be the First Black African in Space. From a humble background, the son of a deceased driver and trader, Freeman applied to the programme in the hopes of raising awareness on the impact that global warming is having on the planet.
Freeman is a WIRED 2015 Innovation Fellow, an Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society and a One Young World Ambassador. More seriously, he recently completed a 6-month medical humanitarian mission to Sierra Leone as part of the African Union’s Ebola Response Team and as such, became a recipient of the Meritorious Service Award from President Bai Ernest Koroma of Sierra Leone. He was recognised as a TIME Magazine Person of the Year 2014 for his work with fighting Ebola and was recognised as one of the 2013 Ten Outstanding Young Persons In Nigeria.
How the journey began…
“It all started in 2010, I was a medical student at the time, moved by compassion and the need to make a difference in the lives of people living in extreme poverty I pioneered a charity organisation, Heal The World Foundation Nigeria to cater for Orphans, children with disabilities and the Less Privileged despite being a medical student and with limited resources.
And since then we have made a positive difference in the lives of more than 500 children with disabilities and orphans. We have provided provided support for education, health, skill acquisition and welfare. We have also done a lot of Advocacy for Poverty Alleviation and Disability rights too.”
What inspired you? And what still inspires you?
I am inspired by daily life in Nigeria. I have passion for poverty alleviation and inspired by the need to alleviate human suffering. We cannot fold our arms and wait for government to solve all the problems. We are an essential part of society so we can also provide solutions to the common problems that we all face.
Freeman Has a Message for You
Besides charity, I recently completed a six-month medical humanitarian mission to Sierra Leone as one of African Union team of Ebola responders where I was honoured with a Meritorious Service Award from President Bai Ernest Koroma in recognition of my service.
Presently I’m on the verge of making history as the First Black African in space and I need your help and support to achieve this great feat. I was recently shortlisted as one of 3 finalists for the Rising Star Programme, a collaboration between Kruger Cowne, One Young World and Spaceship Earth Grants which will send one person to space in 2016.
More than just being the journey of a lifetime, this spaceflight will help bring commercial space travel closer to being a reality. It is quite important. For the next stage of the competition, I will travel to Bangkok, Thailand with the two other finalists to address 1,300 delegates and a panel of renowned judges at a special session of the 2015 One Young World Summit next month from 18-21 November, 2015.
This session will be live-streamed to a global audience. I am a little nervous, I must confess, but I’m quite confident that I’ll make Africa, Nigeria and you proud.
How to Support Freeman’s Mission to Space
- To show your support and help make history, please tweet #SendFreemanToSpace whenever you can. It will also be great if you can get your friends to do the same.
- Also here’s what you can do right now to help – click this link and share my finalist profile via the social media platforms provided below my video.
I look forward to sharing more good news with you soon.
His Final words for our Youth
Let’s dream big! Nothing is impossible to them that believe.
Who will be the Next Young Person of the Month?
You can be the next Opportunity Desk Young Person of the Month! All you have to do is get a friend to recommend your work or fill out the nomination form here. We want to use the platform to recognize and celebrate the efforts of amazing young people around the world. O! And you must be an active Opportunity Desk member, either as a fan, reader or subscriber!