The two learners from Emang Mmogo Comprehensive School in Kimberley who this week represented South Africa in the Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition have been praised for flying the Northern Cape and the country’s flags high at the international event.
STOCKHOLM, Sweden – The two learners from Emang Mmogo Comprehensive School in Kimberley who this week represented South Africa in the Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition have been praised for flying the Northern Cape and the country’s flags high at the international event.
The two 14-year-olds, Keolebogile Abrahams and Mahlohonolo Mosia, were among the youngest participants in the competition.
While the pair were not among the final winners named at an awards ceremony at the Stockholm Waterfront Congress Centre earlier this week, they were still lauded as “champs” for making it to the final stage of the prestigious competition.
Keolebogile and Mahlohonolo were the national winners of the South African Youth Water Prize competition, hosted by the Department of Water and Sanitation (DWS) earlier this year, and went on to represent South Africa in the Stockholm Junior Water Prize competition this week.
The competition formed part of the World Water Week 2023 conference that was hosted by the Stockholm International Water Institute this week.
The winners of the Junior Water Prize competition were named on Tuesday night at a ceremony that was graced by the presence of Princess Victoria of Sweden, who presented two of the awards.
The competition saw 31 young learners from different countries compete after having emerged as champions in their respective countries.
The participants were learners between the ages of 15 and 20, who presented solutions to major water challenges being experienced around the globe.
Established in 1997, the competition has over the years been partnered by Xylem, a leader in developing innovative water solutions through smart technology, as a founding partner.
The ceremony saw three awards being presented – the People’s Choice, the Diploma of Excellence and the Stockholm Junior Water Prize – for innovative water-related concepts.
The Junior Water Prize award was scooped by Naomi Park from the USA for her project on the removal of carbon dioxide and oil products from the ocean.
The People’s Choice award went to Fernando de Silva Hernández and Carlos Erquizio from Mexico, while the Diploma of Excellence was awarded to Ayse Pelin Dedeler from Türkiye for her study on how to capture microplastics with magnetic nano-absorbents and remove them from the water using strong magnets.
The rest of the participants, including Kelebogile and Mahlohonolo, were awarded certificates of participation.
The acting executive director of the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), Karin Gardes, said the Stockholm Junior Water Prize is a tribute to “an entire generation of motivated young people, eager to tackle the greatest challenges of our time”.
“Their passion, ingenuity and determination to be part of a better future is truly inspiring. It is also a stark reminder that we must all do our part, and we must do it now,” said Gardes.
All the participating learners were congratulated and applauded for being “remarkable” and for starting at such a young age to solve some of the world’s most pressing water-related issues.
“What you are doing is exactly what the theme of 2023 is, ‘Innovation’. Innovation is not only about you re-thinking how to do things, but also about why you do things and for who you do things. What you are doing is remarkable, and the essence of innovation,” said one of the speakers.
Another speaker highlighted that a lot could be learnt from the Junior Water Prize finalists and the thousands of learners that participated at the national level.
“What is really shining through the finalists is the tremendous amount of determination that they have demonstrated. They want to solve real-world problems that can change lives, not just for themselves, but for their communities and ultimately for the world.
“We need those ideas. So I would really like to wholeheartedly thank you for your hard work and dedication. It is incredibly inspiring.”
After the awards ceremony, Kelebogile and Mahlohonolo’s mentor from Emang Mmogo Comprehensive School, Selina Molaiwa, praised the pair and said it was evident that the competition was very tough.
“What I admire about them is that they were brave and confident throughout and gave it their best shot,” said Molaiwa.
“My champs are not losers and are still very young. In fact, they were the youngest among the rest of the participants.
“The fact that they came here is an indication that they are winners.
“They still have a lot to learn and this competition has opened up a lot more opportunities for them. They will use the lessons learned here to motivate their peers never to sell themselves short because of their background.
“What I can assure you, is that they are proud of themselves and they flew their country’s flag high.”