Leah Tesfamariam is the founder and director of Bold Africa. She has received a Masters degree in Democratic Governance and Civil Society through the DAAD Helmut Schmidt Public Policy and Good Governance scholarship from Osnabrueck University in Germany. Ms Tesfamariam has a Bachelor degree in International Relations and Diplomacy. She is a Transparency International Fellow from Mykolas Romeras Law school in Lithuania. She has received training in Gender Transformational Leadership, Peace and Development; Conflict Transformation; Electoral Laws and procedures for effective civic responsibility; Principles and Guidelines for UN peacekeeping. Having received a scholarship to study Genocide. Transitional Justice, Human Rights and Good Governance, Ms Tesfamariam is also a peace fellow from the Regional Peace Building Institute hosted by the Non-profit Never Again Rwanda in Kigali. She is a US Department of State Alumna, she spent one year in Toledo Ohio on the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange Study(YES) scholarship. As an Alumna, she was selected for a ToT training. Due to her efforts in Women Empowerment, she was an Alumna mentor during the 2017 Civic Education Week in Washington DC where she represented the Kennedy Lugar YES program to congressional and State Department Staff.
William (Bill) Hilt has been a classroom social studies teacher in Perrysburg, Ohio for twenty-seven years. He is a member of the Executive Board of the Ohio Council for the Social Studies and has served on curriculum committees for the Ohio Department of Education. For much of his career, he has specialized in international education, especially as it pertains to civic engagement, service-learning, and direct cultural interaction. He has consulted on numerous projects on gender equity issues with more than one hundred educators from all over the world. Mr. Hilt is the founder and president of the World Affairs Council of Northwest Ohio and has established a strong network of educators and professionals interested in advancing global opportunities throughout the area. He has consulted on international projects in Europe, Africa, and Asia and has been a host for international exchange students, educators, bureaucrats, and professionals.
Ms Alice Adikinyi is a public relations specialist, currently working as a product developer at Polk Trend and previously worked with the Jesuit Refugee Service EA as a Marketing and Child Protection Advocacy between 2016- 2019.She holds a bachelor of Arts degree in Communication and Media Technology with IT, Public relations option from Maseno University. She is also an ongoing diploma student at Africa digital media institute pursuing digital marketing.Ms Adikinyi has actively participated in child protection advocacy while working with the urban based refugees located in Lavington, Nairobi. She dealt with individuals who really needed confidential support since their lives were at risk, due to past worst experiences through rape, exploitation, neglect, ethnicity, sexual gender-based violence. She has closely worked with refugee children who are very vulnerable in societies, she provided them with a safe haven which could offer human service to refugees and communities through a wide range of rehabilitation and relief activities, many of which center around formal and informal activities.Ms Adikinyi, also contributes to product development as she works on paper beads with a group of women for sustainability purposes. She also supplies these beads in different organizations for purposes of grooming during conferences.
Ms Valerie Virag is the regional director at the American Cultural Exchange Services (ACES).She has previously served on several boards: two terms on the Board of Directors of Oregon Senior Centre and at World Affairs Council North West Ohio (NWO).She has taken part in several social justice programs: MS Virag played a critical part in establishing Karachuonyo Safe Space for Young Women and Girls that transitioned to the Non-Profit, Bold Africa in Homa Bay Kenya. She also actively took part in the project Fatush for girls project that provides reusable sanitary towels for girls in Kenya. Valerie Virag is a proactive citizen, she founded Val’s Yacht Cleaning and Heat Shrinking Company, an enterprise that cleaned and shrank wrapping boats in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan for large size boats. In addition, she founded Health Care Marketing and Admissions Directors Association-HCAMDA.HCAMDA had chapters spread across 8 states among them California, New York, California. In her capacity as the founder, Ms Virag was a national speaker on topics such as health acre sales and marketing while holding educational seminars for professionals in the healthcare and housing fields. She has 6-year experience at Toledo Hospital in Cardiovascular and X-ray. She has served as Director of Admission and Marketing at Harborside Healthcare Subacute Health Centre and Community Outreach Marketing coordinator for the Geriatric Department at St. Charles Hospital.
Ms. Beryl Orao is an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya and a human rights lawyer working with the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights. She holds a Bachelor of Laws Degree from the Catholic University of Eastern Africa and a Post-graduate Diploma in Law from the Kenya School of Law. She also holds a Master of Laws Degree in Diplomacy and International Law from the University of Lancaster.
Ms. Orao has engaged extensively in working towards the promotion and protection of human rights in the Western Kenya region. She has been involved in litigating various public interest cases to affirm human rights. She has also trained both senior and junior law enforcement officers across the Western Kenya region on policing within human rights standards and principles. Further, she has spearheaded trainings on the criminal trial process and the content of the right to fair trial for prisoners in various prisons in Western Kenya. In recognition of her efforts to ensure that human rights principles and standards are incorporated in the operations of law enforcement officials, she was recognised as the 2017 Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year by Amnesty International-Kenya, The Law Society of Kenya and the East Africa Centre for Human Rights.
Deb Bowen (Illinois) has worked with international student exchange programs for over 20 years. She developed a writing project in 2003 where students meet a subject from the WWII generation and then write and illustrate their story for young readers (abookbyme.com). The purpose is to teach history, compassion, tolerance and more.
The project expanded from Holocaust and Hero stories to include Human Rights stories as well. Her student from Kenya wrote about his need for clean water for his village and was able to use this storybook as a platform to raise money for a water well. After implementing the well system, Mwalimu’s host family raised money for a medical center for the village. Mwalimu’s Dream was the title of his book and this dream for a better life is coming true for his village. A girl from Ethiopia named Amen wrote her own story about being an eyewitness to FGM in a village outside her city. She experienced trauma from this and and the passion grew inside her. This led Amen to enter a statewide (Iowa) essay contest and she won first place. Then she wrote a children’s book about her story entitled “The Plight of Ethiopian Girls”. It’s currently being used by missionaries in three African countries to educate women on this subject.
Bowen’s award winning literacy project has become more popular on a national level to educate children with stories written by children for children. In Fall of 2020, she will speak at an International Teacher’s conference alongside reading specialist from Iowa in Anaheim California. In addition, Deb encourages her students from Africa and the Middle East to become involved with Days for Girls and/or Dignity for Girls. The first group is empowering women from developing countries with sustainable menstrual health solutions while the second group adds the FGM education component. As a result, a girl from Liberia has become involved in distributing kits through Dignity for Girls and a girl from South Africa is starting a sewing project near her hometown using strategic partners under the Days for Girls umbrella.
In 2019, Bowen’s 501c3 called Understanding Works (understandingworks.org) was approved. It combines the book project, working with international exchange students and a service project where students or groups fill gently used purses with things women need and donate them to homeless shelters, alternative schools and more. She has admired Leah and Val for what they have accomplished and will be happy to serve alongside them to propel more good work in Kenya.