Recent winners of this award include:
Nicolas Noguier, France, 2013 Growing up feeling isolated and misunderstood, Nicolas Noguier turned his challenging childhood experiences into an opportunity to create positive impact by advocating for equality and human rights. Noguier experienced discrimination and bullying firsthand, igniting a passion to ensure that no one lives in a negative environment because of their sexual orientation. After completing studies in economics, specializing in the health and social sector, Noguier started a career with the Regional Health Agency of France.
Combining his passion for homosexuality awareness with his vocation, he built a nonprofit organization that assists youth and their families who struggle with discrimination surrounding sexual orientation. Le Refuge aims to prevent and release young people from the isolation of being rejected by their families for their sexual preferences. This growing charity provides temporary accommodation, social and psychological support, listening and family mediation and preventive interventions. Le Refuge also provides 24-hour nation-wide support from volunteers and counselors through their hotline.
Le Refuge has more than 55 accommodation locations throughout France and has helped more than 1300 people since it's opening. Noguier works with local secondary schools to organize and teach homosexuality education sessions for students in order to increase awareness and acceptance of homosexuality starting at an early age. He also works with local and national media to create awareness about Le Refuge, its hospitality and services. Local partners, well-known journalists and artists have become advocates for Noguier's work across France. Fighting for respect, acceptance and diversity in our changing society, Noguier's courageous work protects young people and spreads awareness and acceptance on an important issue of our world today.
Vedant Seeam, Mauritius, 2013 After finishing his undergraduate studies, Vedant Seeam exercised his voice as a young active citizen in the political sector and became the youngest elected politician in Africa. He left the government world to complete postgraduate studies in the United States at Yale University. Upon his return to his home country of Mauritius, Seeam started an international nongovernmental organization called ELI Africa, providing local underprivileged children utilizing experiential, hands-on learning.
Seeam's goal with ELI Africa is to provide support for children with little or no access to education, and make them better students and community-minded citizens. He recruits students from Yale University to spend six months working with ELI Africa and teaching in Mauritius. ELI Africa invests in the wellbeing of children, guiding them through primary education and beyond, while also cultivating a spirit of service. ELI Africa's students participate in local community projects focused on environmental protection and conservation of local natural resources.
Besides ELI Africa's work with children, the organization also has several environmental initiatives. To combat deforestation, Seeam donated seven acres of land to be developed into native Mauritian forest. With this land, ELI Forest will reintroduce native trees and plants, which will also create more natural habitats for local animals. In addition, a collaboration between ELI Africa and other partners, the UN Development Program has implemented a community-based coral farming project. This project educates local communities on the importance of coral protection and its key role in sustaining the livelihood of local fishermen. Combining his passions for education and the environment, Seeam uses his leadership skills and knowledge to create sustainable solutions that will benefit the Mauritian community for many years into the future.