Our newest CALI Award winner is Moses Ariama – a passionate, committed, inspirational and creative leader with a regular supply of great ideas, all of which focus on his commitment to young people. Seeing a need to recognise and encourage the achievements of today’s youth, he created the Pride Awards Trust.
Q: Tell us about Pride Awards Trust
Moses: At the end of 2010 I created the Pride Awards Trust, and launched a successful award ceremony to celebrate young peoples success and achievement, in the Wellington Region. The Pride Awards Trust is a non-profit organisation composed of a board of 8 trustees and two youth advisors.
The Pride Awards ceremony is a cause for celebration as it acknowledges young people for their accomplishments, encouraging them to believe that they can create a glowing future. We aim to plant seeds of hope in the youth community to grow into happy, productive adults. Our mission is “Inspiring our society to celebrate and value young people”.
In the past 3 years, the annual Pride Awards ceremony has been attended by dignitaries such as the Mayor of Wellington, the children’s commissioner, members of parliament, city councillors, as well as finalists from all over the Wellington Region. We’ve even had VIP’s such as the Hurricanes, famous authors and the South African High Commissioner and his Deputy.
We hope to eventually make the awards a national event for young people from all walks of life, making it bigger, as well as more glamorous and exciting by the year 2020.
Q: What inspired you to set up Pride Awards Trust?
Moses: With over 17 years experience working for various child and youth organisations in Africa, Europe, Australia and here in New Zealand, I clearly understood the challenges young people face in this present world – a challenge brought upon by society itself.
I met a 14 year old boy in 2010, in Wellington, who believed life is not worth living, simply because he finds society selfish and unkind to young people. When I asked what he meant, he went on to say:
“All the bad things in this world were created by adults and even though we have the resources to stop them, we simply choose not to and cower in the fear of being judged. Where are the strong men and women I have read about? I am sick and tired of society’s promises to young people, of a better world, when good people simply choose to do nothing – not even to stand and fight for them as nature intended.”
I committed his words to memory because I have never heard a young person speak like that, especially to me. Because of this young man’s words, I promised him I would do something. Even though I somehow knew he did not believe me, I have.
I only wished I could one day find him and show him that there is one man who cared enough to do something to celebrate young people’s success and achievement. In the same year, I founded the annual Pride Awards Ceremony and Pride Awards Trust.
Q: How does it work?
Moses: Young people from the Wellington Region are nominated or can nominate themselves, coming from all walks of life and ethnicities. The Pride Awards Trust will then spend months to decide upon the finalists from the 10 Pride Awards Categories:
Academic Award: Is awarded to a young person who demonstrates consistent progress at school or Pre-employment training.
Health & Wellbeing Award: Is awarded to a young person who encourages healthy living and fitness.
Team Work Award: Is awarded to a young person who works well with others by demonstrating patience, good listening skills and respect.
Performing Arts/Creative Achievement Award: Is awarded to a young person who can demonstrate a creative expression and original ideas in the arts.
Community First Award: Is awarded to a young person who demonstrates an outstanding level of involvement in the local community.
Courage Award: Is awarded to a young person who demonstrates a clear attitude of being able to stand up for themselves, and for others.
Youth Leadership Award: Is awarded to a young person who shows consistent strong, positive leadership skills.
Overcoming Adversity Award: Is awarded to a young person who has tackled and conquered difficult situations.
Carers Award: Is awarded to a young person who goes out of their way help and take care of family members, and others.
Bright Spark Award: Is awarded to a young person who has innovative ideas.
Finalists are then interviewed and their success story projected on the big screen during the green carpet award ceremony. The chosen winners are awarded prizes, certificates and trophies by prominent Wellingtonian’s.
At Pride Awards Trust we believe that education and ambition can make any dream come true, and we designed the Pride Awards to be practical and playful, a place for young people to have fun and to see that hard work is rewarded. It’s a great way to acknowledge the success and achievement of our young people on a grand scale, much like the OSCARS.
Q: You also are involved with the migrant community – how does this overlap?
Moses: After recent reflection earlier this year, I realised there is another matter in our society that needs addressing, which is supporting migrant integration and this affects both migrants and refugees across the country.
In order to support refugees and their families to integrate successfully in the New Zealand community, and hopefully contribute to it, Pride Lands Childcare has offered 50% off its childcare services to new refugee families for a period of two years.
Such support I believe will give these families the opportunity to focus on suitable jobs to support their families and by doing this, minimise the chances of them requiring government support, making them self-sufficient.
To make the service FREE, we have asked individuals and businesses to contribute the other 50%, so that the children of refugees can enjoy the same good quality childcare service as other New Zealand children.
The support through this Pride Initiative will transform the lives of young refugees and give them a good start in New Zealand. This integration process will also allow their families to participate in the annual Pride Awards as well, giving their children and youth a better opportunity in New Zealand.
Q: What is something that you are really proud of?
Moses: In my 17 years of working with young people, I have come across so many success stories of all kinds. But the success story I am particularly proud of, is my own journey.
I grew up in a small village in West Africa where I learnt to hunt for my food, taught by my grandfather. At the age of 12 I went to the city for the first time, to stay with my birth parents, and taught myself English before I got into my first school at the age of 13.
When I was 14 I started my first initiative with young people in Ghana, where I taught homeless youths how to play soccer, in an attempt to get them off the streets and do something more productive with their time and lives.
When I turned 16, I put myself through college in the UK and worked in holiday camps across the UK as a way to support my academic studies and myself. In the year 2000, I moved to Australia and started a course in Bio-medical science, while continuing working with young people as a Senior Instructor in 15 different extreme sports.
. Subsequently, I came to New Zealand in 2004 where I continued my studies, and continued to work with young people between the ages of 5-17 years for different organisations.
In 2006 I decided to create my own childcare organisation called Pride Lands and from that created Pride Awards Trust. Now I am working on my new project, to support migrant and refugee integration and to provide free childcare for refugees. I have also recently become an inspirational speaker for migrant and refugee communities in Wellington Region.
In short, I have come from as far as a village from West Africa and into the Western World, making a difference I never imagined, even though many have told me I would never succeed.
Q: What drives you?
Moses: My philosophy: To do whatever I can, when I can, and while I can, with the life I have in order to help others in need. In this case, I have chosen to help young people and refugees.
I also live my life by this quote: “I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again”. By William Penn (1644 – 1718)
Q: Do you feel there is reward in your efforts?
Moses: Everyday. When I hear, read or know about a young person who has overcome some of societies challenges and has become a better person, it brings great pride to my heart. There is nothing more rewarding than my job.
Q: If you had your way, everyone in the world would spend 5 minutes a day…
Moses: To be content with who they are, what they are and what they have as human beings.
My advice to all young people out there is: Encourage your Hopes NOT your Fears.
Moses has recently begun to focus on the complementary issue of the integration of migrants and refugees into New Zealand society, and is developing a range of creative ideas which both respect migrants and refugees, as well as encouraging other New Zealanders to support all the initiatives developed by Pridelands/ Pride Awards.