A Deserving Nomination

A man sitting smiling calmly on the ground in front of a yellow wall. We're so excited to see one of Africa's great community leaders nominated for The Guardian's International Development Achievement Award this year. Mulugeta Gebru is a long-time partner to Firelight Foundation. He leads a community based organization in Ethiopia that has turned institutional care for children on it's head, choosing instead to keep children with family where they have the best chance to succeed. The award aims to celebrate one individual for their contribution to the lives of some of the world's poorest people. Mulugeta is a wonderful example.

His nomination tells the story of his important work...

Closing down his orphanages must have been one of hardest decisions of Mulugeta Gebru's life. The Jerusalem Children and Community Development Organisation (JeCCDO) he ran had homes across Ethiopia for orphaned and vulnerable children. There were over a thousand children in Mulugeta's care. But by 1996, he had decided that the children would thrive better back within communities.

This idea wasn't immediately popular. But Mulugeta persevered and found that placing a child back into the care of a community could raise the standard of life for everyone. He transformed the orphanages into resource centres. Part of his model was practical; helping adopting families to set up small businesses or low-cost food production schemes. But Mulugeta's greatest legacy has been the community groups he has fostered, which have triggered fundamental shifts in attitudes and customs around health, rights and child protection.

Please read the rest of Mulugeta's nomination and vote for him to win the award on The Guardian website.

It only takes a moment to vote and we hope you will. It's not everyday we see community leaders receive the international recognition they deserve.