The AYE Awards Need Your Help


The African´Youth Education (AYE) award needs your support and here is why. Eight years ago it was started as an event of Topafric, a non-profit organization that caters to the African community in Hamburg, Germany. Today, the award ceremony has blossomed into a movement of its own-- thanks to donor support and the dedication of its organizers. However, AYE`s success over the past eight years has been primarily due to the public`s recognition of the importance of its mission.

The AYE award is an occasion during which a youth of African descent may rub shoulders with other more successful persons from the community and be motivated by them to believe that through hard work and education, he or she too can reach higher in life. Thus a high school student may be inspired by a university student to get a bachelor's degree, an undergraduate student may be inspired by a successful graduate to work harder so he or she too can land a successful job upon graduation and an unskilled worker may be inspired by a skilled worker to sharpen his or her skills so he or she may become more productive.

The importance of this can hardly be overstated. Imagine a kid raised by a single mother from Kenya or Nigeria working multiple jobs that pay her barely enough to survive. The chances of living in an affluent neighborhood with useful social networks for such a kid is very slim. He or she is likely to live in a community of people united by the same economic struggles.

In Hamburg as in many other places in the diaspora, the economic and educational divide intersect with the color line. Under this circumstance, the likelihood of such a kid having as a next door neighbor a scientist or a chief executive officer of a large corporation that mirrors his or her skin color is close to none. Such a condition has the potential to narrow a kid`s self-view and clip his or her wings. A platform like AYE provides the youth in the African community with an opportunity to see beyond their small neighborhoods and to be inspired to go wherever their talents could take them.

But as one could surmise, so much goes into putting together an event for hundreds of people. Invitation letters, phone calls, emails, flyers, venue, catering, transportation, sound and lighting are just some of the inputs. Each of them requires both finance and help from talented individuals. Last October, the AYE award was attended by roughly 500 people from all corners of the country. However, the event took place in a hall that was ideal for no more than 300 persons - a significant gap of about 200.

If past trends are any indication, this year's event, which will take place on Saturday, October 13th, will likely draw significantly more than 500 people. To meet this increase in public interest, the award ceremony must increase its resources in the form of a larger venue, more furniture, transportation, technical equipment and personnel.

The resource increase must also account for the gifts and cash prizes awarded to the selected students and parents. As public interest rises, the number of those deserving of special recognition will likely increase. Atop the financial needs, the award ceremony could also benefit from assistance of the talented event planners among us. Although the task at hand is demanding, it is doable when done together.

The history book is full of tales about heroes who changed the world. But when you look more closely, you will see that often the most significant changes in the world took a long time to arrive and were set in motion by lesser-known.No one person or event is capable of changing the world. It takes a collective effort towards the common goal, with each individual playing his or her part.

I feel very confident in saying that the development of the African youth is of immense interest to you, the reader, which is why I encourage you to get involved. Your contribution may not land you a spot on the front page of any major news outlet, but it could inspire a kid to pick up a book and acquire the knowledge he or she needs to play his or her part in moving the community and the continent we both care deeply about forward.

Mohammed Adawulai