Celebrated Synergists – 2020

Many congratulations to all the 2020 Honorary Fellows of the Centre for Big Synergy


On 25th of October 2020, the second International Day for Synergy was celebrated by CBS to recognise the accomplishments of these outstanding synergists from across the world.

The tireless initiatives of these celebrated synergists have positively impacted hundreds and thousands of lives, and directly and indirectly have affected us and the planet. They are inspirations to millions; synergists of CBS as well as others who are following in their footsteps.

CBS is delighted to recognise the contributions of these stalwarts and is excited to find out more about their future accomplishments.

Chris Hena (Liberia)

Chris Hena is a medical missionary who spent decades implementing successful community-based healthcare programmes. Dr. Chris is constantly working to reform the Liberian healthcare system through an initiative called “Healthy Women, Healthy Liberia.” She developed the framework for the Liberian health education initiative which is being executed by organising communities to identify and implement preventative care programs unique to each community, with a specific focus on improving maternal and infant healthcare, improving the nutritional status of women and children, restoring and maintaining community water and sanitation, and reducing the incidence of non-communicable diseases.      

Find out more about Healthy Women, Healthy Liberia and see how you can support her mission.

Malizole Banks Gwaxula (South Africa)

Malizole “Banks” Gwaxula is a teacher and community leader in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. He is the co-founder and Senior Advisor of Ubuntu Pathways, a non-profit organisation that provides an integrated support system of health, education and social support in the townships of Port Elizabeth. What makes Ubuntu innovative is that it redefined mainstream development models by focusing on the depth rather than breadth i.e. rather than expanding geographically, Ubuntu drew a perimeter around a community of 400,000 people and ensured that a vulnerable child’s life could fundamentally change by providing him/her the chance to succeed in the worlds of education and employment.
The Ubuntu Model has become a blueprint for organisations around the world that strive for culturally appropriate, community-based development.

Find out more about Ubuntu Pathways and see how you can support his mission.

Beatrice Savadye (Zimbabwe)

Beatrice Savadye is a human rights activist who has been working in the field of sexual and reproductive rights for women and young people at both national and international level.

Along with advocating for a dignified future for girls and young women through her collaboration with different organisations since 2012, Beatrice is the current director for Real Open Opportunities for Transformation Support (ROOTS), which has the goal of promoting social and economic justice for young people in Zimbabwe. This organisation is running the “Not Ripe for Marriage” Campaign on ending child marriages in Zimbabwe, which has contributed to the ban of child marriage through a ruling by the Constitutional Court since January 2016.

Coming from a poor background, Beatrice experienced herself the adversities that marginalised young people have to face daily and especially young women, who have troubles in finding affordable sanitary wear. She did not want to remain indifferent to this situation: not only did she start a campaign to promote readily accessible and affordable sanitary towels for girls in Zimbabwe, but she also encouraged the Government to remove a 15% tax charged on feminine hygiene sanitary wear.

Find out more about ROOTS and see how you can support her mission.

Judith Kitinga (Tanzania)

As a gender activist, Judith Kitinga has the mission to change the difficult conditions of girls and women in Tanzania. More specifically she makes efforts to end the issues of gender-based violence and all kinds of inequalities existing in communities between men and women. Locally to her, she has been involved in many projects, such as the Restless Development Tanzania where she was a Youth Accountability Advocate volunteer for the Tutimize Ahadi Project, a programme that addresses gender-based violence and violence against children, and which embodies the commitments by governments, the UN and other bodies to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.  At the international level, Judith brought her advocacy to the United Nations High Level Political Forum (UNHLPF) 2018, in New York.

Find out more about the Tutimize Ahadi Project and see how you can support her mission.

Hermella Wondimu (Ethiopia)        

Hermella Wondimu is the President and co-founder of Drop of Water, an organisation which seeks to provide clean, safe water to people in rural communities of Ethiopia. Hermella founded Drop of Water while she was studying Civil Engineering at Mekele University, where she came to learn that – due to lack of clean water supply – many children die before reaching the age of five and women toil in hardship fetching water from long distances in rural parts of Ethiopia. After obtaining her degree, she dedicated her life in finding solutions to provide clean water to those in need. One of her many projects with Drop of Water involved the construction of five water wells in Northern Ethiopia, ultimately providing safe water to over 6,000 people. In 2014, a further 20 water wells were built.

Find out more about Drop of Water and see how you can support Harmella’s mission.

Kriti Bharti (India)    

After working with vulnerable children and women, Kriti Bharti realised that there are many issues in society needing a grass root level intervention and a direct operation. Inspired by this, in 2011 she founded Saarthi Trust to fight against child marriage in India. The organisation helps to put an end to child marriages and provides counselling to children and families, as well as rehabilitation to these children. Thanks to her efforts, Kriti has managed to annul more than 29 child marriages and stop over 850 more. She has also rehabilitated more than 6,000 children and 5,500 women.

Find out more about Saarthi Trust and see how you can support Kirti’s mission.

Asseny Muro (Tanzania)

Asseny Muro has always campaigned for gender equality and women rights in Tanzania. In 1993, Asseny co-founded Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP), an organisation built on transformative feminism, which aims at eliminating all forms of discrimination against women and other marginalised groups, whether due to class, sex, gender, age, ethnicity, disability, geographical or nationality. As the current Chairperson of TGNP, Asseny and her organisation contributed to raising awareness about gender equality in Tanzania, which is now seen as a development issue recognised by the laws, policies, structures and national programmes. Thanks to TGNP work, women representation in Tanzania improved considerably.

Find out more about Tanzania Gender Networking Programme and see how you can support Assney’s mission.

Kel Sheppey (Zimbabwe)

Kel Sheppey is a Zimbabwean who grew up in southern Africa where, through first-hand experience, he realised that people in the rural parts of Africa have little access to almost everything. Developing a deep empathy for the needs of rural African communities, he decided to leave a successful corporate career in San Francisco to focus his efforts full-time on establishing Wild4life (founded in 2008). 

Wild4Life is a non-profit organisation that has the goal of delivering HIV prevention and treatments for other diseases (e.g. pneumonia) to people living in Zimbabwe (and other Sub-Saharan African rural areas), including children and pregnant women who need early pre-natal care. Thanks to the help of W4L and by working closely with the government, the gaps in local health systems are efficiently identified and filled. Over the years, the number of people receiving treatments in rural areas have increased considerably, from the point of view of access to care, quality of care and array of services.

Find out more about Wild4life and see how you can support this mission.

Andrew Youn (Rwanda)

Andrew Youn has lived in rural Africa for the past 11 years, learning from the largest group of underprivileged people in the world: smallholder farmers. When he first visited Kenya in 2006, Andrew was an MBA student who knew very little about farming. During that first trip, he met two farm families. One family was harvesting two tons of food on a single acre of land and thriving; the other was going hungry. He decided to found One Acre Fund with the goal of providing environmentally responsible seed and fertilizer delivery and financial and agricultural training.

The organisation serves one million farm families each year, providing them with the financing and agricultural training they need to increase their yields and climb out of poverty. On average, farmers in One Acre Fund’s program increase their income by about 50 percent. Youn is also the cofounder of D-Prize, an organisation that funds early-stage startups that are innovating better ways to distribute proven life-enhancing technologies.

Find out more about One Acre Fund and see how you can support it.

Chizoba Barbara Wonodi (Nigeria)

Chizoba Barbara Wonodi is a public health physician and vaccine advocate who is making efforts to improve primary health care systems in Nigeria. In 2011, she founded the Women Advocates for Vaccine Access (WAVA), a coalition of women-focused civil society organisations in Nigeria advocating for increased routine immunisation and sustainable vaccine financing.  She is also the principal investigator for a Gates Foundation project to increase immunisation uptake by sending SMS messages to educate and remind caregivers of their child’s vaccinations. With over 27 years of experience with projects in Africa, Asia, and America, Dr. Wonodi is making great strides in achieving fairness and equity in global health.

Find out more about the Women Advocates for Vaccine Access and how it can improve the lives of all of us.

Michelle Desilets (UK)

Michelle Desilets has been working alongside Lone Droscher Nielsen in orangutan conservation for over 15 years. In 1994, Michelle took her first trip to Borneo, as a volunteer-tourist at the Tanjung Puting National Park. In the years that followed, she continued to visit Borneo as a volunteer for as long as 4 months at a time. The Orangutan Land Trust is a UK charity with the objective of providing sustainable solutions for the long-term survival of the orangutan in the wild by ensuring safe areas of forest for their continued existence. A major objective of Orangutan Land Trust is to secure the river island known as Salat Island in Central Kalimantan to provide habitat in which orangutans undergoing the rehabilitation process can refine their skills before being released in the wild. Additionally, a part of this island can serve as permanent sanctuary for those rescued orangutans who can never be released, such as those with chronic disease or disabilities.

Find out more about the Orangutan Land Trust and see how you can support their mission.

Bina Rani (India) 

Bina Rani is the Founder and current Chief Executive of iPartner India. iPartner India is a non-profit organisation that is at the forefront of a new kind of philanthropy. They provide a platform for donors, who are committed to making a difference, discover and connect with a wide range of inspiring and high-impact grassroots level projects in India. iPartner India offers the Asian diaspora in the UK a chance to get involved and contribute to creating a more just and equal society in India. Since 2009, iPartner India has worked closely with both partners and donors to create some of the most effective and beneficial partnerships bringing positive change to local communities. Currently, they have a network of 110 partner grassroots NGOs across 20 states in India. Throughout her career, Bina Rani has been committed to both the people in the field and to those who wish to have a more genuine link with the projects they donate to.           

Find out more about iPartner India and see how you can support its mission.

Peter Horn (UK)

Peter Horn directs The Pew Charitable Trust work on ending illegal fishing, bringing together policy, technology, and enforcement initiatives to legislate against this practice and prevent or stop it at sea. Peter joined Pew in 2015 after serving for more than 30 years in the British Royal Navy, where he reached the rank of commander. He served in the Fishery Protection Squadron as well as strategic planning and intelligence. He also commanded HMS Middleton and led deployments throughout the Atlantic, Middle East, and parts of Asia. He was invested as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1998.  

Find out more about the The Pew Charitable Trust and see how you can support Peter’s mission.

Emiko Ito (Japan)

Emiko is the director of the National Parents Network to Protect Children from Radiation. The Children’s Nationwide Internet is based on the transmission of various information necessary to protect children from radioactivity, based on the exchange of information between individuals and groups inside and outside the network, study sessions to expand connections, and with other groups. The Children’s Nationwide Network will continue to engage in ongoing activities while gathering and learning from domestic and overseas knowledge while connecting with groups and individuals working nationwide to protect children from the effects of radioactivity, which will continue for a long time.

Find out more about the National Parents Network to Protect Children from Radiation.and see how you can support its mission.

Veronika Cejpkova (UK)

Veronika Cejpkova founded Whisper in 2009 after travelling to eight African countries and witnessing how these vulnerable people live. She noticed the risk and care coming with doctor visits to children, and realised the vulnerability they are succumbed to. Whisper is a charity that helps save lives of the most vulnerable children in Uganda. They opened a rehabilitation home with nursery classes for malnourished, abused children and new-born orphaned babies in May 2010.  In 2018, the hospital moved to its current 47 bed premises and opened a maternity ward.

Find out more about Whisper and see how you can support it.

Brisa De Angulo (Bolivia)              

Brisa De Angulo began her career as an activist and advocate for social justice at a very young age. Growing up in Cochabamba, Bolivia, she realized how badly children were treated in the public schools and told her parents that she wanted to create a better alternative.Since the coronavirus lockdown began in Bolivia, Brisa De Angulo’s charity (A Breeze of Hope) for sexually abused children has received hundreds of telephone calls from girls trapped in homes with their abusers. The lockdown in Bolivia, like other quarantines imposed across Latin America, has raised issues of incest and child sexual abuse in a region already ravaged by high rates of sexual violence and teenage pregnancies caused by rape. In Peru, more than one girl a day was raped during the first 17 days of quarantine, government figures showed. For the last 15 years, Brisa has worked with healthy childhood development, and for the last 12 years she has worked to prevent sexual violence against children and adolescents. She is a recognized expert in South America on the topic of child and adolescent sexual abuse and regularly works with attorneys, prosecutors, judges, psychologists, social workers, and police to improve their case management systems. Brisa is also a well-known public speaker, having given workshops and conferences at several universities and non-profit organizations, both in the United States and abroad. Her public speaking focuses on the dynamics of sexual violence and the many traumatic consequences that result from it for the individual, the family, and society as a whole. Brisa is the author of a landmark study on sexual violence in Bolivia and co-author of several books on sexual violence, human rights, and early childhood development. Her academic work on sexual violence against female adolescents in Bolivia provided the framework for a thematic hearing presented to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2012.

Find out more about the A Breeze of Hope and see how you can support its mission.

Bernadette Adeyilek-Tracz (UK)

Bernadette Adeyilek-Tracz has been working in the pharmacy/diabetes sphere for over 10 years. She founded the Diabetes Africa foundation at the start of 2019. Diabetes Africa is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) with a vision of eradicating diabetes and diabetes-related diseases in people living in Africa, and in people of African origin, globally. It operates as a network linking professionals and decision-makers from governments, international organisations, donor agencies, non-profit, business and academic institutions at the regional and international level. The work of Diabetes Africa is articulated around three core topics: policy, research and access to medicines. Diabetes Africa seeks to identify and promote innovation and innovators by leveraging a network of professionals and experts active around the world. Their fast-growing membership includes 400+ healthcare professionals and business executives.

Find out more about Diabetes Africa and and see how you can support their mission.

Gülsüm Kav (Turkey)

Gülsüm Kav is a Turkish doctor and activist who co-founded We Will Stop Femicides, a grassroots platform where female volunteers fight against gender-based violence and impunity. More than 2,600 women have been killed in Turkey in the past decade. We Will Stop Femicide Platform works to eliminate violence against women and femicide in Turkey. The platform collects and shares monthly data on murders of women in Turkey, which has been increasing every year. In addition, they monitor court cases on femicide, violence against women and sexual abuse of women and organise public awareness campaigns on these cases. According to the Platform, records show that the number of women murdered in Turkey has doubled since 2012. Turkey was the first country to sign the 2011 Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, or the Istanbul Convention.

Find out more about the We Will Stop Femicides and see how you can support its mission.

Lee Todd (UK)

Lee Todd has over 30 years’ experience in the footwear industry, starting as a sales assistant for the British Shoe Corporation before becoming the youngest manager in British Shoe History at only 17. Since its foundation in 2010, Shoe Aid has been distributing close to 1.4 million shoes worldwide and has been working with some of the largest organisations in the UK to reduce shoe poverty and reduce footwear waste and its impact on the environment. Shoe Aid was approached by Keep Britain Tidy & Eco Schools to educate children on the importance of recycling and re-using old and unwanted footwear. Having begun with a sample of 100 schools, they have been asked to go into 17,800 Eco schools across the UK.

Find out more about the Shoe Aid and see how you can support its mission.

Joseph Gitler (Israel)           

Leket Israel – a unique food organisation in Israel that rescues healthy, surplus food and delivers it to those in need through partnerships with non-profit organisations. Leket Israel was born in 2003 when Joseph Gitler started rescuing meals from catering halls and corporate cafeterias out of his Subaru car. The meals were stored in refrigerators lining his driveway before delivery to local non-profit organisations serving the needy.

After years, Joseph’s organisation has made a positive impact on preventing food waste, and today it is Israel’s largest food distribution network. The food rescued by Leket Israel is distributed to 200 non-profit organisations, including homeless shelters, soup kitchens, elderly centres, battered women’s centres, community help organisations, and schools for at-risk youth. These non-profit partners serve the food to approximately 175,000 Israelis in need every week, regardless of age, gender, religion, or ethnic background.

Find out more about Leket Israel and see how you can support the mission.

Michael Glendinning (UK)

Michael Glendinning is the founder and Director of Connect: North Korea. Before starting the organisation, he was the co-founder and Director of the European Alliance for Human Rights in North Korea. He is also the founder and Director of the Korea Future Initiative, a London-based not-for-profit focused on documentation of human rights abuses. Michael has been involved in North Korean human rights since 2009. Connect: North Korea facilitates specific support initiatives for North Korean refugees in the UK. The organisation is an independent, non-religious, and non-political registered charity founded in 2017 and based in New Malden, London – home to the largest exile community outside of Asia. A few hundred North Koreans live in the UK, but most have no family, no support system, no homes, no jobs and no prospects when they arrive there, having fled an extremely dangerous country, where they had little knowledge or access to the outside world. Connect: North Korea raises funds to meet their needs through facilitating support services to help these political refugees to integrate into British society and reach their potential.

Find out more about the Connect: North Korea. and see how you can support its mission.