Rolex presents THE YOUNG LAUREATES: Bruktawit Tigabu

Bruktawit Tigabu

Almost 400,000 children die in Ethiopia a year, mostly from preventable causes like malaria, diarrhea and measles. Growing up surrounded by poverty and then working as a primary school teacher in Addis Ababa, Bruktawit Tigabu saw it all for herself. She decided early on to make a change by educating children on health and social matters. Working from their living room, Tigabu and her husband produced Tsehai Loves Learning, an educational program about a young female giraffe who tackles crucial issues such as health, nutrition, and life skills.

In less than five years, using hand drawings, sock puppets and songs and stories, the once humble project in Amharic, Ethiopia’s principal language, has been seen by millions of Ethiopian children and shown in theaters and community health centers to rural audiences without access to televisions. A radio version of the program has been recently developed for a potential audience of more than 40 million listeners. With dozens of episodes in circulation and more on the way, a growing production team, and dubbed across the wider region into languages including Somali, Tigrinya and Sudanese Arabic, Tsehai Loves Learning is expanding its reach, thanks partly to the Rolex Young Laureates Programme, which funds the enterprises of visionary young men and women whose projects take on major issues of our time. “I have an absolute need to help my country emerge from poverty,” Tigabu says. “I think rescuing children from preventable disease, educating children, and teaching them to be problem-solvers is the best hope for our future.” She is also developing new programs reaching out to teenagers as well, to help improve life for many thousands of young people throughout her country.

It’s not the incredible and expanding success of Tsehai Loves Learning that makes Bruktiwat Tigabu proudest. When asked what it is, she does not even hesitate. “I’m proud of being a mom,” she says.

Sundance Channel is proud to partner with Rolex Awards for Enterprise in their support of visionary young men and women tackling the world’s most pressing issues in five areas: science and health, applied technology, exploration, the environment and cultural preservation. Stay tuned for the announcement of the next Awards for Enterprise winner soon.
See the rest of the Rolex Young Laureates here.