She’s only 11 but education activist Zuriel is a World Cup winner

The World Cup in Brazil seems like the perfect place for Zuriel Oduwole to spread her message about education.

The 11-year-old activist lives in Los Angeles. Her mother is from Mauritius and her father from Nigeria. And she has travelled extensively throughout Africa and interviewed nine presidents and prime ministers.

So mingling with football fans from Iran and Nigeria and police from Brazil before yesterday’s World Cup game in Curitiba was no big deal for a girl who has spoken to more than 3000 children in Africa on the importance of going to school. It was fitting she was there on the Day of the African Child and the suppporters were happy to listen to her talk about her cause.

Zuriel says hello to supporters of Nigeria, her father’s home country

Zuriel, who moved on to Rio de Janeiro today, is in South America to launch her latest campaign – Follow The Ball for Education, in which she is taking two footballs to six countries on three continents.

After starting in the United States and travelling to Brazil, she will go to Nigeria, Ethiopia, Mauritius and South Africa to gather support and signatures from players, fans, government officials and ordinary people as she brings attention to the need for safe education for girls across Africa.

As she says on her website: “I am concerned that not every girl has the right to an education or a chance to accomplish her dreams like me.”

Brazilian police officers are happy to pose with Zuriel

Zuriel started her Dream Up, Speak Up, Stand Up project in 2013. She interviews African leaders, asks for their help and commitment in advancing girls’ education and makes documentary videos to get across her message. She has spoken to schoolchildren in Nigeria, Malawi, Tanazania and Mauritius about aiming as high as possible in life.

She said: “As a girl, I am concerned that not every girl has a right to get an education or a chance to accomplish  her dreams like me.

“I hope I can inspire the children of Africa, especially the girls, to get an education.”

Don’t miss news, views and pictures from Day of the African Child and Youth Action Month.