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The JCI Ten Outstanding Young Persons of the World (JCI TOYP) program honors ten outstanding young people under the age of 40 each year. These individuals exemplify the spirit of the JCI Mission and provide extraordinary service to their communities. Whether through service, innovation, determination or revolutionary thinking, these young active citizens create positive impacts on a local and global level. These ten young active citizens will be honored during the 2019 JCI World Congress.

Narrowing the 2019 JCI TOYP top twenty finalists to the final ten honorees will be done not only by the final judging panel, comprised of representatives of select partner organizations and the JCI President, but also by a public popular online vote.

Below you can view the 20 finalists' biographies and accomplishments by clicking on their photo. The public online vote will calculate the number of likes each individual receives. Vote for a finalist by clicking on their photo to view their individual page and then clicking "Like."
Malak Al Akiely
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Malak Al Akiely
Business, Economic and/or
Entrepreneurial Accomplishments
Jose Enrique Arias Chiu
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Jose Enrique Arias Chiu
Cultural Achievement

Selçuk Yusuf Arslan
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Selçuk Yusuf Arslan
Humanitarian and/or
Voluntary Leadership
Hala Asslan
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Hala Asslan
Academic Leadership
and/or Accomplishment
Malaeka Astafan
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Malaeka Astafan
Medical Innovation

Valentina Denise Avetta
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Valentina Denise Avetta
Medical Innovation

Gözde Durmuş
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Gözde Durmuş
Medical Innovation

Chris Hill
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Chris Hill
Personal Improvement
and/or Accomplishment
Mitchell Horrocks
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Mitchell Horrocks
Humanitarian and/or
Voluntary Leadership
Samson Itodo
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Samson Itodo
Political, Legal and/or
Governmental Affairs
Kaspar Korjus
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Kaspar Korjus
Business, Economic and/or
Entrepreneurial Accomplishments
Katerina Kovacheva
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Katerina Kovacheva
Contribution to Children, World
Peace and/or Human Rights
Saori Kyouraiseki
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Saori Kyouraiseki
Cultural Achievement

Devina Lobine
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Devina Lobine
Academic Leadership
and/or Accomplishment
Nkosana Butholenkosi Masuku
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Nkosana Masuku
Business, Economic and/or
Entrepreneurial Accomplishments
Maher Maymoun
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Maher Maymoun
Moral and/or
Environmental Leadership
Anish Mohan
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Anish Mohan
Personal Improvement
and/or Accomplishment
Tomoya Onaka
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Tomoya Onaka
Humanitarian and/or
Voluntary Leadership
Stephanie Woollard
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Stephanie Woollard
Humanitarian and/or
Voluntary Leadership
Duygu Yılmaz
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Duygu Yılmaz
Business, Economic, and/or
Entrepreneurial Accomplishment
Malak Al Akiely
JCI Jordan
Business, Economic and/or Entrepreneurial Accomplishments

Malak Al Akiely experienced hardship at a very young age due family difficulties. While her brother lives with visual impairment, her mother suffered from severe multiple sclerosis causing her to be paralyzed, eventually leading to her death. As children, her mother taught Al Akiely and her siblings to better understand how people with different abilities felt and developed their empathy by imagining themselves in other people’s shoes.

Her unusual upbringing taught her to embrace humanitarian values and become an entrepreneur for change, ultimately earning her MBA Management from German-Jordanian University. She founded Golden Wheat for Grain Trading—a company that establishes food security by trading oil and grains, ensuring no one goes to bed hungry. Based out of Jordan, the company works to meet regional demand to grain-scarce countries in Jordan, Iraq, Egypt, Sudan and Saudi Arabia. Her company makes an effort to build a team of people who have ethical and moral values, establishing a tolerance between cultures. While Golden Wheat was established for trading strategic commodities, she is also a partner and co-founder for Golden Kayan that works in marketing and consulting for oil and energy companies, including work as a consultant to two of the biggest oil trading companies. As one of the only female business owners in her region and sector, she began the Women BeeBuzzers project which aims to introduce beekeeping as a primary or secondary source of income to empower women in rural areas. In addition to her enterprises, Dr. Al Akiely is a humanitarian and environmental activist who explored the Arctic with other brilliant people engaging in the most important discussions of our time, making her the first Jordanian to cross 80° at the North Pole.

Believing we must teach our children how to provide for our communities, Al Akiely has developed projects to protect humanity. She has successfully built a company despite working in an intensely competitive male-dominated sector. Al Akiely is not only a female businesswoman trading oil and grains, but also an activist working on unconventional solutions for building a sustainable future.
Jose Enrique Arias Chiu
JCI Mexico
Cultural Achievement

As an artist, Jose Enrique Arias Chiu sees art as self-expression and a universal way to communicate with different cultures. He is considered one of the outstanding young artists using murals to develop community morale in Mexico, Argentina, El Salvador, Peru, Spain, the Middle East and southern California.

Arias Chiu has participated in more than 500 exhibitions, 80 cultural festivals and is currently working on a mural that is gaining attention from the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest mural in the world. The Mural de la Hermandad (Mural of Brotherhood) was inspired by the current immigration issues taking place at the border of Mexico and the United States of America, transforming a boarder wall into a work of art.

Covering 18,000 square meters, this mural runs down the Pacific Ocean in Tijuana and been created with contributions from over 3700 people who share the same desire to unite two nations. On the Mexico side of this boarder mural, you can see messages of hope and peace. Arias Chiu is working to get permission from the United States to allow their citizens to share their same messages of everlasting world peace on the other side of this inspiring wall.

He has used his art for campaigns like Todos Somos Migrants (We Are Migrants) to support migrant communities by informing them of their rights and connecting them with organizations that provide food and shelter to new migrants. He paints community centers and hosts art workshops at the Museo El Trompo for children, benefitting more than 1000 children.

“People think the American dream can only be lived in the United States,” Arias Chia says, “…but on this side of the border, there are dreams too. On this side, you can also create. On this side, you can also change the world.”
Selçuk Yusuf Arslan
JCI Turkey
Humanitarian and/or Voluntary Leadership

During his 12 years as an Integrated Co-Teacher at the Ankara Ataturk Vocational and Technical High School, Selşuk Yusuf Arslan developed a view on teaching that differs from his peers. He believes that his students can personally grow by creating sustainable development projects locally for global issues.

In his teachings, Arslan works to transform his students not just into scholars, but also global citizens. He takes time to build professional relationships with his students by listening and observing to what global and local issues are most important to them, encouraging and mentoring students to create projects that align with these interests.

He has conducted multiple sustainable development projects for the benefit of humanity at the local level such as traffic safety and public transit advancements including parking for the disabled and a city bike path for cyclist. These local projects conducted by his students have led to meetings with parliamentarians and a partnership with the TEMA Foundation —the largest nongovernmental organization in Turkey.

One of the biggest accomplishments Arslan and his students carried out was a project focused on creating equal opportunities in education. They organized a two-day science camp providing disadvantaged students with educational workshops. The main purpose of this camp was to reduce the gender gap in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field, motivating attendees with the camp motto, “Get Sociable and Enjoy with STEM.” By coordinating this project, Arslan earned the 2019 STEM Discovery Week Award.

With his vision to make our world a better place through the passions and interests of young people, Arslan has made a huge impact on advancing the Global Goals for Sustainable Development one local project at a time.
Dr. Hala Asslan
JCI Syria
Academic Leadership and/or Accomplishment

Disheartened by the damage done to historical buildings and landmarks throughout Syria from years of war and violent conflict, Dr. Hala Asslan has made it her mission to rehabilitate her community. Just seven days after the Syrian Civil War began in 2011, she received her PhD in the Archaeology of Historical Buildings.

Shortly after, Dr. Asslan started organizing and participating in campaigns that advocate for the preservation of cultural heritage. She wrote articles, proposed solutions and urged young people to create the positive change community’s need in order to preserve history. Her peaceful community-building advocacy motivated her to take an assignment on the advisory delegation for the old city of Homs once it was declared a conflict-free zone. Dr. Asslan’s identified the status and needs of this historical city by documenting and providing recommendations on how to restore the damage done throughout Homs.

In 2015, Dr. Asslan became a consultant for the Aga Khan organization, which was focused on restoring the city of Aleppo. Her input on the plan for rehabilitating the of historical locations in Aleppo gives hope for this critical historical Syrian city that has been intensely damaged by the war. Due to her involvement with rebuilding these two historical cities, Dr. Asslan has worked to restore the history that has been destroyed by war and conflict in Palmyra, Salah el-Din Castle, Old Damascus and Jerusalem.

She has since continued to work in the rehabilitation field, using her personal experience and archaeology knowledge to study domed houses in the south of Aleppo, while encouraging women to play a role in rebuilding Northern Syria. She empowers rural women to preserve rural styles, traditional architecture and crafts historically associated with the landscape of the region.

Dr. Asslan builds beauty and peace back into neighborhoods by creating sustainable cities and communities that have faced years of darkness and animosity during war.
Dr. Malaeka Astafan
JCI Syria
Medical Innovation

Growing up, Dr. Malaeka Astafan admired her mother’s sewing skills. Combining the skills her mother passed along and interest in subjects like physics and chemistry, she took the textile engineering path in college.

After receiving her PhD, Dr. Astafan moved to Aleppo, Syria where she became a faculty member for the Mechanical Engineering Department of Textile and Technology. She began researching and teaching about the use of statistical quality methods to avoid major defects of annular spinning. In 2011, once the the Syrian Civil War had begun Dr. Astafan was determined to continue studying textiles and methods for spinning thread in an attempt to help during the conflict.

Medical care became very expensive during the war since most supplies had to be imported and were unavailable in the surrounding cities of Aleppo. She believed it was possible for Aleppo to manufacture their own medical equipment, especially the simple materials such as surgical threads, which were needed on a great scale. After extensive research and countless failed experiments, Dr. Astafan innovated a new unconventional surgical thread.

She faced hesitation from other professionals in her field and was denied approval to travel in and out of Aleppo due to the dangerous conditions of the war. Dr. Astafan remained determined and motivated to invent this surgical thread and finally received permission to travel for the necessary supplies to make this invention. She returned to Aleppo and invented a nonliquid electrical bath machine to create her unconventional surgical thread for the wounded soldiers.

While being a wife, mother of two, teacher and scientist, Dr. Astafan achieved her goal. She is an inspiring example of someone who wanted to make sustainable impact by rebuilding a better and healthy community for her the generation to come.
Valentina Denise Avetta
JCI Argentina
Medical Innovation

As a diabetic, Valentina Denise Avetta has been dependent on insulin since she was 12 years old. While on family vacation, she spent days suffering from high blood sugar levels despite taking insulin. She later discovered that her insulin had been above 30° Celsius, causing the injections to be defective. This experience drove her to research and develop a thermochromic compound sensor that indicates when insulin has become defective.

At just 15 years old, she was developing research and began experimenting with different prototypes for her insulin sensor. She presented her research at science fairs and achieved national attention from her studies, obtaining a bronze medal at the International Sustainable World (Engineering Energy Environment) Project (ISWEEEP)—an international science fair held in Houston, US. The following year, Avetta received a scholarship for the Balseiro Institute and won first place in the 2016 Solutions for the Future competition held by Samsung.

After two years of proposing hypotheses and refuting them with experimentation, she came up with a new way of developing her prototype using cholesteric liquid crystals. Unfortunately, these crystals’ reagents would be very expensive, which led Avetta to her current experimentation with thermosensitive gels, microfluidics devices and 3D printing. The hope with studying these avenues over the liquid crystals is to develop an insulin sensor that is affordable and economical friendly to all.

Avetta continues to experiment and develop this insulin sensor at the National University of Entre Ríos. Her dedication and determination to solve this issue for the diabetic community has inspired creative advances in medical world for the better.
Dr. Gözde Durmuş
JCI Turkey
Medical Innovation

As a child, Dr. Gözde Durmuç suffered from long-lasting resistant urinary tract infections that took three years of hospital visits, lab tests and antibiotic shots to overcome. This frustrating experience with slow speed and insufficient accuracy of the tests her doctors used to diagnose her condition paired with growing up in a family of teachers, engineers and doctors led Dr. Durmuç to developing an interest in biology and engineering from a young age.

During her PhD research at Brown University, she used her frustration to find solutions that would benefit both patients and their doctors. Dr. Durmuç worked to develop new tools and technologies to solve important medical problems, including the growing healthcare challenge of antibiotic resistance. She developed superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPION), showing her peers an alternative that could eradicate biofilms better than conventional antibiotics currently being used. Dr. Durmuç has showed it is possible to detect and monitor the behavior of many cell types under different physiological conditions. With this discovery, she has been able to reduce some test times from as much as three days to one hour.

Her innovative work has presented the medical world with numerous medical advances in cancer biology, diagnostics, drug screening, tissue engineering and bio-space research—promising to make great impact on the future of engineering and medical devices. Dr. Durmuç’s resilient fight against antibiotic-resistant infections has broad impact, advancing the medical industry for doctors and patients around the world.
Chris Hill
JCI United Kingdom
Personal Improvement and/or Accomplishment

Since a young age, Chris Hill has shown talent for performing musical instruments. By grade eight, he was able to sing and play the flute, piccolo, saxophone, harp, clarinet, oboe, piano, organ, drums and percussion instruments at a professional level.

Despite living with two learning disabilities, Dysgraphic—a learning disability that affects written expression—and Dyslexia, he has earned countless awards such as the diploma of the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music along with other diploma, associate and licentiate distinctions. By the age of 16, he was made a Leverhulme scholar and given the prestigious Gold Arts Award.

Hill faced being bullied at school and suffered physical scars from these encounters. Though he was succeeding as a musician nationally and internationally, he changed schools and left behind his friends part-way through his studies to attend an institution that better supported his well-being and journey to attend a university. The bullying experiences led him to become an anti-bullying advocate, helping others who endure similar experiences in school.

Today, Hill has reached the category auditions for the BBC’s Young Musician competition three times, performed in major venues at home and abroad as the principal or first flute with orchestras representing the United Kingdom, and has already been booked as a solo recitalist for the next two years at prestigious venues. Despite the challenges Hill has faced throughout his life, he has been driven to continue playing expressing himself through music while raising thousands of pounds with charity concerts, particularly benefiting mental health charities and anti-bullying campaigns.
Mitchell Horrocks
JCI Australia
Humanitarian and/or Voluntary Leadership

By attending a high school associated with the Watoto orphanage, Mitchell Horrocks had the opportunity of forming strong relationships with the children and caretakers in Uganda. His time spent at the orphanage made Uganda feel like a second home, where he began pursuing a life of active citizenship and thinking about the country’s development in a more sustainable way.

During his junior year of high school, Horrocks and 15 of his friends raised funds in Australia to build a house for one of the teachers at the Watoto orphanage. Following graduation, he took a gap year spent in Uganda, volunteering at the Watoto orphanage where he grew a deep connection to the children living there.

When he returned home, he wanted to continue giving back to the Watoto community that had given him so much experience and helped him grow as an active citizen. He held fundraising dinners and auctions to raise US $18,000 for cricket equipment for the orphanage. As a college student at the University of Technology in Sydney, Horrocks found himself traveling back to Uganda to research rural villages, learning about technological advances needed in his home away from home.

He witnessed great numbers of children who lost their lives to contaminated water that their mothers would walk miles to find. To provide a solution, he designed a steel product that boils water, killing the germs causing children to die. Horrocks spent 2017 developing and testing the product he now calls the OKUZI, as well as raising funds to distribute his product each weekend to new villages. By 2018, he had distributed 3770 products, giving over 20,000 people access to clean drinking water.

With his influence and technological developments, he ensures children and the citizens of Uganda have access to clean water and sanitation. Horrocks has spent majority of his lifetime ensuring children have the opportunity of a brighter future.
Samson Itodo
JCI Nigeria
Political, Legal and/or Governmental Affairs

Witnessing and experiencing the disconnect between young people and the African government, Samson Itodo made it his mission to build a community of active citizens who are engaged with legislation creating democratic governance.

In 2007, Itodo started a student organization at the University of Jos, Nigeria called YIAGA AFRICA. The purpose of this organization is to promote civic engagement, human rights and democratic governance. Since its launch, this organization has become a nonprofit civic hub of change makers focusing on crafting practical solutions, training and empowering citizens to lead change in their community. YIAGA AFRICA has leadership structures and members in all 36 Nigerian states and Itodo is now the Executive Director of this civic organization.

Inspired by seeing young people who want to engage with Nigerian politics, Itodo started the Not Too Young To Run campaign in 2016, which advocates to reduce the age limit for running for public office in the Nigerian constitution. This campaign gained attention from the Untied Nations, African Union and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), causing them to adopt Not Too Young To Run as a global campaign. Itodo facilitated the development of policy documents on electoral reform for constitution review and political inclusion. The bill was signed into law in March of 2018.

Wanting to expand outside of Nigeria to create global democratic governance, Itodo started the Watch The Vote initiative promoting electoral integrity using technology and data. He has led international election observation missions in Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone, South Africa and the United States. Itodo’s passion for good governance has made significant impact on African politics and humanity.
Kaspar Korjus
JCI Estonia
Business, Economic and/or Entrepreneurial Accomplishments

Fascinated with the way technology and digital innovation can be revolutionary, Kaspar Korjus was determined to change the way the world thinks about business.

In 2014, he began developing an idea that would become known as e-Residency, which is the first transnational digital identity platform in the world. E-residency allows business owners to register for an EU-based company online using digital signatures for documents and provides access to banking as well as online payments for worldwide transactions.

Korjus, as founding Managing Director of Estonian e-Residency (2014–2019) and CEO of Borderless Nation States (from 2019), helps governments worldwide to serve location independent entrepreneurs. His work globally is known for its unique leadership style: combining technology, entrepreneurial dare and public policy, the last of which is often known to be slow to innovate. He has led a growing team patiently, having the moral courage and vision to push against unnecessary limitations and disrupt the system from within. Such delicate balancing between competing priorities calls for not only a first-rate mind, but also a huge heart and leadership that inspires, energizes and galvanizes—all of which he possesses in abundance.

In 2017 and 2018, Korjus became the most quoted Estonian national in the world and was awarded the Order of Orange-Nassau by the King of the Netherlands, His Majesty Willem-Alexander, in recognition of his notable contributions for the betterment of societies worldwide. Korjus has empowered and inspired global citizens to accelerate digital innovation using an entrepreneurial mindset.
Katerina Kovacheva
JCI Bulgaria
Contribution to Children, World Peace and/or Human Rights

Each year in Bulgaria, approximately one thousand children given up for adoption, yet there are approximately 1500 families and single parents ready to adopt. Being a psychologist at the For Our Children Foundation, the leading organization in Bulgaria that provides professional social services to vulnerable children, Katerina Kovacheva wanted to provide support to vulnerable children and their parents.

Her goal was to reduce the number of abandoned children in Bulgaria by facilitating the adoption process. She leads trainings to educate prospective parents about the adoption process, preparing them with quality care knowledge for their future children. After a child is placed with their new foster parents, she hosts social activities for the families to build a trustworthy relationship establishing a good foundation. She also provides psychological counseling for foster parents, as well as for biological parents of children adopted by other families, helping all parties plan their next steps.

Kovacheva is passionate about breaking the stigmas around biological parents of adopted children, the children in the foster care system and people with reproductive problems. She has published articles that aim to educate the public about the adoption cycle and the difficult decision biological parents face when they put their child in foster care system. Kovacheva is a strong advocate for adopted children and believes that they are entitled to know the truth of their origins. She stands against the pressure posed by society to keep their background private. She brings awareness to the difficulties each participant of the adoption cycle faces every day.

Being one of the few specialists in Bulgaria who aspire to work with all participants in the adoption process, Kovacheva has inspired and influenced thousands of children and families in the adoption cycle.
Saori Kyouraiseki
JCI Japan
Cultural Achievement

Following her belief that films enrich our lives and give us meaning, Saori Kyoraiseki wanted to provide children who live in regions that can’t afford to see movies. While developing countries receive access to vaccines, food and education, access to the arts, such as film, is largely not a priority, limiting people in these communities from a full range of opportunities for development. In 2012, Kyoraiseki launched the World Theater Project, a traveling film theater that gives children a chance to see films that they couldn’t afford to see or have access to otherwise.

Together with the United People Corporation, she helps children from different villages and communities view films regardless of the environment or economy in which they were born. She has been showed 50,000 children films with the World Theater Project, giving children a chance to live in a world where they can dream and be exposed to the magic of cinema. Some of the children that have benefited from the World Theater Project have been able to experience new opportunities like attending school and earning an education.

Kyoraiseki aims to bring art and cinema to children who have not had access to this form of entertainment. By bringing different movies to children, she is bringing joy and the outside world so young people can see what else the world has to offer.
Dr. Devina Lobine
JCI Mauritius
Academic Leadership and/or Accomplishment

As a teenager, Dr. Devina Lobine struggled with health complications for four years and suffered from an atrial septal defect that made a long-term impact in her life. Despite her battles, the event that impacted her the most was the unexpected death of her friend. It was this death that guided her to become a scientist to improve the health industry and the lives of others.

Dr. Lobine began her educational journey studying Agricultural Biotechnology and later received her PhD in Natural Products. Her doctoral research focused on the traditional use of Mascarene Aloes species for managing diseases, while advocating for further investigation to develop novel applications. During her current post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Mauritius, Dr. Lobine is researching medicinal plants to identify lead compounds that can be used as therapeutics to manage Alzheimer’s disease. Her research outputs will help the national economy and people suffering from Alzheimer’s, as well as showing the importance of bio-entrepreneurship endeavors, specifically made by women.

Dr. Lobine is dedicated to improving science and medical research throughout Africa, contributing to the sustainable development of the world. Driven by her motto, “Failure is an option, but giving up is never an option,” Dr. Lobine represents women shattering the glass ceiling of gender bias in the medical field. As a NEPAD SANBio Youth Ambassador and Africa Science Leader, she contributes to numerous initiatives and projects that ensure more women and youth are empowered to become scientists who provide people with healthier and longer lifespans.
Nkosana Butholenkosi Masuku
JCI Zimbabwe
Business, Economic and/or Entrepreneurial Accomplishments

As a young teacher in Zimbabwe, Nkosana Butholenkosi Masuku discovered that 90% of students attending a rural school have never traveled to educational places on field trips. Having a firm belief that hands-on experiences expands students’ learning experiences, Masuku dedicated himself to find a low-cost way for students to have applied learning experiences.

In 2018, he founded Phenomenon Technologies, a startup that provides students with a low-cost way to take excursions in school using virtual reality. FundoVR, Masuku’s digital invention, allows students to experience sites such as Victoria Falls and learn scientific applications like engineering and astrophysics from within the classroom. This 360-video technology provides Zimbabwean students with an educational experience for a fraction of the cost of going on field trips.

5000 students have participated in these virtual field trips and over 200 schools have enrolled in the flight simulation program, launched in July 2019. His digital invention has been recognized for its innovation in tourism, as it allows students to experience the beauty of their own community and all that Zimbabwe has to offer. FundoVR has been recognized by the United Nations World Tourism Organization as one of the top five tourism startups in Africa.

Masuku strongly believes that virtual reality can change the way in which people interact with the world, making it easier for young people to make informed choices and better understand the world around them.
Maher Maymoun
JCI Jordan
Moral and/or Environmental Leadership

After participating in a design competition for eco-friendly houses, Maher Maymoun discovered his passion for innovation, renewable energies and sustainable building practices to design a more sustainable planet. Combining his passion with a background in energy engineering and several global certifications in environment and energy Maymoun created the best recipe to explore ideas to create efficient green innovations. His work proves to the world that young people have the innovative mindset and drive to make the world a better and more sustainable place.

After years of pursuing his master’s degree and working in the energy services sector in Chicago, Maymoun returned to Jordan to apply what he’d learned in the United States to his home community. He became intrigued by solar panels and how collection of dust can cause them to lose up to their half of their efficiency. Cleaning the dust can be doubly challenging in communities suffering from water scarcity. To provide a solution to these challenges, Maymoun invented a revolutionary self-cleaning technology that uses a thin transparent film installed on top of solar panels, and once activated vibrations from sound waves remove dust from the panels. With this invention, he founded Solar PiezoClean, a green high-tech startup that provides the world with state of the art, dry and self-cleanings solutions for PV projects. This discovery impressed the eco engineering community due to its huge impact on regions facing severe water scarcity.

Maymoun currently works as an Energy and Sustainability Consultant and has worked as a consultant for a national green buildings’ world bank project. Believing in the importance of sharing environmental and human values with young people working to make the planet sustainable by 2030, Maymoun mentors youth, is a motivational speaker on environmental causes, and is a certified Green Entrepreneurship Trainer for UNDP and the European Union. He believes that these two values will make businesses more sustainable and make the planet a greener place.
Anish Mohan
JCI India
Personal Improvement and/or Accomplishment

After a severe train accident in 2009, Anish Mohan lost his left leg and right hand, leaving him 65% orthopedically impaired. Prior to his accident, he was working in the technical field, but during his recovery, he felt motivated to begin a career in social work, assisting people who have suffered from similar situations.

Mohan works as the National Coordinator and Trainer for the Institute for Person Centered Approaches in India (IPCAI), which is an organization that aims to create a society that is more compassionate and inclusive, particularly working for persons with disabilities and those from lower socio-economic backgrounds. With the aim to foster relationship development between teenagers living with learning disabilities and their parents, Mohan runs a project called Teen IPCAI that provides motivational training, disability awareness and counseling to program participants.

Due to his involvement with the disabled community, Mohan was given the opportunity to serve as the District Ambassador of Systematic Voters Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP). SVEEP works to increase voter awareness and participation in the election. Mohan saw this as an opportunity to showcase his petition for the disabled: A Fight for Equal Rights for Differently Abled. The petition’s consistency caused the Kerala State Road Transport Commissioner to establish special parking areas for people with disabilities in all government and public institutions throughout India.

Mohan has turned tragedy into inspiration through motivational speeches to over 350,000 people, instilling hope and reminding people lift up one another, especially those with different abilities. His speeches and articles have given the disabled community a platform to voice their needs, showing his ongoing commitment to achieving social justice for all.
Tomoya Onaka
JCI Japan
Humanitarian and/or Voluntary Leadership

Born in a home with hearing impaired parents, Tomoya Onaka became aware of the challenges faced by the disabled community at an early age. He witnessed many obstacles his parents battled and was determined to innovate technology with the power to change and improve their experiences.

After years observing how his parents utilized nonverbal cues to effectively communicate, Onaka developed Silent Voice — an app that improves the lives of and opportunities for hearing impaired individuals, specifically in the workplace. Wanting to make even greater impact, Onaka developed a corporate training program called Denshin. This program teaches the meaning behind nonverbal cues, giving both those able to hear and those with hearing impairments the tools to effectively communicate through self-expression instead of words with one another. Both the app and training program have created a mutual understanding between the hearing and hearing impaired, while improving communication in the workplace.

Onaka has created employment opportunities for 3000 hearing impaired individuals who have participated in his trainings since in launch of Silent Voice three years ago. He also opened a tutoring school for children with hearing disabilities in Osaka, Japan, giving 70 children the chance to learn nonverbal cues not and to be better prepared for the workforce in the future.

Onaka believes in uniting people of all abilities and that when we foster mutual understanding, we transform people’s consciousness and create an inclusive society.
Stephanie Woollard
JCI Australia
Humanitarian and/or Voluntary Leadership

After visiting Nepal at 22, Stephanie Woollard was inspired by seven disabled women who were making small soaps and candles in a tin shed. She noticed that these women are failing to make a living from their activities.

Woollard used her last $200 to invest in handicraft skill trainers for these women and used her ability to create markets for them to be sold internationally. Together they built an international export manufacturing business, cooking school and guesthouse which generates profits while educating, training and employing over 5500 women. Currently, the products being sold by Seven Women include silk scarves, dressing gowns, knitted scarves, beanies, gloves, puppets and even children’s toys. The cooking school hosts international travelers on a daily basis who learn to cook from our seven women staff. The Seven Women Headquarters also provides tours to international guests who want to take these skills back to their own countries.

Woollard has also developed a travel company that helps young active citizens make a sustainable impact while traveling around the world. This concept challenges travelers to take a different perspective on the community they are exploring. With this program, travelers are given a more in depth experience of the local peoples, culture, and community. Woollard sees her travel company as a huge force for good that can enrich the lives of travelers and locals while encouraging them to develop grassroots change. She published From a Tin Shed to the United Nations: How Everyone of Us Can Make a Difference in 2017, documenting all that she’s learned from these impactful experiences. A documentary was also made about Seven Women and has had screenings all over the world.

Her vision was to economically and socially empower Nepal’s most vulnerable women through education, skill training and economic growth. Woollard is an example of creating a global network using positive change, a clear vision and determination.
Duygu Yılmaz
JCI Turkey
Business, Economic and/or Entrepreneurial Accomplishments

After seeing her father use olive seeds to improve his health, Duygu Yılmaz became curious about the benefits this fruit can have on sustainable development. She attended Istanbul Aydin University where she studied food engineering and the effect olive cores have on human health.

With plastic waste being one of the many issues creating negative impact on human health, Yılmaz researched a way to use olive cores as an eco-friendly substitute since they are similar in nature to plastics. This groundbreaking research was the first to note this similarity and led to Yılmaz discovering a biodegradable sustainable plastic alternative using olive seed waste. Her discovery created an environmentally safe and sustainable alternative to petroleum-based plastics. This bio-based material is a substitute for plastic applications in many industries from food packaging to automotive.

She founded Biolive, a company that develops the technology needed to produce this bioplastic material. This material substitute not only extends the shelf-life of food, but actually utilizes olive seeds as a waste product. This discovery is much healthier for humans than plastic and biodegrades after six months. Her company has received 20+ international awards including Mercedes-Benz and Chobani for its entrepreneurial and environmental contributions to society.

Yılmaz’s mission is to provide awareness on matters of good health and well-being through the protection of our environment. Her studies are making it possible to develop an alternative material that can lead to eliminating plastic waste and bettering our planet.
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