MO: I’ve always desired to make a difference. When I was in middle school and high school, I volunteered with several organizations and participated in a lot of community activities. As far as role models, I deeply admire the work of Martin Luther King Jr., and from a young age, I aspired to walk in his foot steps. Getting involved with the UN was not something I ever expected, but once I became the Youth Champion, I felt that it was where I was always meant to be. I love working with the United Nations Foundation because it gives me the opportunity to further the efforts of the UN by supporting extremely impacting projects.
ACTBOLD: That’s so cool! Can you tell us a about your role as the Youth Champion for the United Nations?
MO: When I was appointed the first ever UN Youth Champion for the International Year of Youth, my role was to promote the theme of the year which was dialog and mutual understanding. I took this a step further by initiating a 6 month global tour to understand first hand the unique experiences youth face all over the world. I visited 24 countries in the six months. In each country, I facilitated dialog in schools, met with NGO’s, spoke with government officials, did media interviews, and volunteered with local and international organizations. The experience was multifaceted and life changing.
ACTBOLD: From all your travels, can you tell us briefly about one or two highlights or encounters that have had a significant impact on you?
MO: Bangladesh was a highlight because I had never seen such extreme poverty. At the same time, the people I met were some of the most gracious and positive people I’ve ever met.
A project that was particularly impacting was visiting a sanitation project in Lodwar, Kenya where a local woman had employed women in the neighborhood to sew sanitary napkins for girls in the community. It turns out that during a girl’s time of the month, she was forced to sit under a tree and miss a week of school. After a few months, girls typically dropped out of school completely. This project was especially meaningful to me because I saw how something so simple could make such a huge difference.
Make sure to check out Part II of our interview tomorrow! For More Mo’, follow her on twitter @gimmemotalk or connect with her at facebook.com/gimmemotalk.