Proving small initiatives can have great impact
Wanting to raise awareness about the unhealthy and unsanitary conditions in her home country, now 26-year-old Aminetou Bilal launched the “Selfie Mbalite” campaign in February 2017. She was inspired by the “Selfie Déchets” campaign run by blogger Fatoumata Cherif in Conakry, Guinea.
Bilal is the president of Selfie Mbalite, an NGO that focuses on awareness campaigns against unsanitary conditions and promotes ecological development in Mauritania. She is also part of the first class of 200 Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa programme.
Born and raised in Mauritania, Bilal completed her Bachelor’s degree in Geosciences and is currently busy with her Master’s degree in ‘Territorial management of the effects of climate change and environmental risks’ at Sup Management University in Nouakchott.
Bilal decided she wanted to make herself useful after completing her studies and integrated into the NOG ‘Rim Youth Climate Movement’ fighting climate change. Even though she is no longer a member, she is grateful for her learnings.
“When I launched Selfie Mbalite, I did not expect such quick reactions. Everyone was taking selfies near waste on the national territory and posted them on Facebook with the Hashtag #SelfieMbalite,” says Bilal. Thanks to this initiative, authorities in Mauritania have reduced the contracts of companies that manage waste and have started to review their strategies.
Bilal also went to be an AU-EU Youth Ambassador. “Being part of the AU-EU Youth Plug-In initiative is one of the most beautiful things that happened to me and is the result of my civic commitment,” says Bilal. This lead to her being chosen by the African Union Commission to represent and deliver the speech on behalf of the African Youth at the “Women in Power” Conference on the sidelines of the 31st African Union Summit.
On being chosen to be part of the Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa programme, Bilal said that it was more than a pride and honour. She added that “President Obama is an inspiration to the whole world.”
Bilal sees herself as a business leader in the environmental sector in the future. She’s made a promise after her pare in the Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa programme to pass on her knowledge and skills to the young people of her country through a mentorship program that she will launch shortly.