My Inspirational Teacher: by model and advocate Liya Kebede

As part of our My Inspiration series we talk to Liya Kebede, Ethiopian-born model, maternal health advocate and founder of the Liya Kebede Foundation.

Who was the teacher, or person, who really mattered in your life?

So many people! From my family to teachers who made me want to learn all about the world, to mentors who helped me break into the fashion industry. And now, in my work toward improving maternal health, I am surrounded by a community of people who are making a real difference for women.

What did they say or do to make them so special?

What makes this group of important people in my life so special is really how they choose to live their lives, how they believe in charting their own course that they will stop at nothing to make a positive difference in other people’s lives.

What was the moment you realised this person was influential to you?

I’m always inspired by people who are passionate – no matter the field they are in – and who are absolutely committed to make what they believe happen. It refuels me when I see that and helps me keep believing in my own dreams.

Would you have been successful without this person’s encouragement?

For me the key to success is not underestimating what you can achieve… having the encouragement and support of people that inspire you helps you gain this belief.

Did you stay in touch with them?

Yes and no  – sometimes they are people I see once only and they leave an impression on me, sometimes it is people I have the chance to see again and again. I’m also constantly seeking out new ideas so this community of influential people in my life grows and grows.

Did you ever tell them what they meant to you?

When I have the opportunity I do, yes – it’s so important to show people how even the little things they do can spark a new idea.

Who in the world today would you describe as inspirational?

I was fortunate recently to spend a few days in Ethiopia with an incredible women who is working to make maternal mortality a thing of the past there. Dr Mulu Muleta is a world-renowned fistula surgeon with 20 years experience working with impoverished patients at the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital and now as the Senior Medical Advisor for the NGO WAHA International. Dr Muleta has been instrumental in developing maternal and neonatal training and treatment programmes that are making a difference for moms and their families.

Read more about Liya’s campaigning at the Liya Kebede Foundation website, its Twitter page or its Facebook page.