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From climate justice to women's rights, these 'Goalkeepers' are moving humanity forward

Four extraordinary women have been honored with Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards.

goalkeepers awards gates foundation

Vanessa Nakate and Dr. Radhika Batra are two of the women honored with Goalkeepers awards.

We live in a world that is full of dedicated people doing incredible things, but unfortunately, we don't hear about most of them. Much of the work to solve global problems and move the human race forward isn't glamorous or exciting, and most of the people doing that work aren't in it for the limelight or fanfare.

So when changemakers are honored for their service to humanity, we have the opportunity to shift our focus away from headline and spotlight chasers and celebrate the people working diligently to make the world a better place.

The Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards has provided such an opportunity.


The awards, given by the Gates Foundation, honor global changemakers who are helping to move humanity closer to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals. In 2015, 193 world leaders committed to 17 Sustainable Development Goals (aka Global Goals or SDGs), a series of ambitious objectives and targets to end poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and fix climate change by 2030.

“While the world is far from being on track to reach the Global Goals by 2030, there is still cause for optimism," said Blessing Omakwu, head of Goalkeepers. "We’ve seen how human ingenuity and innovation can lead to game-changing breakthroughs and progress toward our shared goals, and that’s exactly what we see in this year’s Goalkeepers Global Goals Award winners."

Omakwu tells Upworthy that having women sweep the awards was not planned, but it's telling that that's how it turned out. "These women represent some of the best of humanity," she says. "Women are central to the future of progress."

Attended by global leaders and influencers, the awards ceremony included award presentations by Bill Gates and Melinda French Gates, Angelina Jolie, Malala Yousafzai and Lilly Singh.

Meet the honorees:

climate change uganda

Vanessa Nakate helps mobilize other young people to take action on climate change.

Jjumba Martin/Gates Foundation

2022 Campaign Award: Vanessa Nakate (Uganda)

The Campaign Award celebrates a campaign that has raised awareness or built a community by inspiring action and creating change.

Vanessa Nakate's work highlights the disproportionate impacts of climate change and the inequalities it exacerbates, especially for women and girls in Africa. Nakate founded the Rise Up Climate Movement, which amplifies activist voices from Africa and around the globe. She also founded the Green Schools Project, which addresses energy poverty in rural schools in Uganda using economical and sustainable solutions. One of those solutions is equipping 24,000 schools with solar panels and eco stoves, which Nakate says will both drive a transition to renewable energy and reduce the consumption of firewood, as most schools in Uganda use firewood to prepare food.

Nakate tells Upworthy that the initial inspiration for her work was Greta Thunberg's school strikes for climate change action. "But right now, I’m really inspired by the resilience of the different young people across the world that continue to mobilize and organize and demand climate justice," she adds.

She says this award will help her message of climate justice reach new audiences. "For me, this is an opportunity to use these new platforms to talk about the impacts of the climate crisis and the solutions that are already working, especially in our communities at the grassroots level," she says. "I believe in our fight for climate justice we need everyone involved, and it’s an opportunity to meet new people and tell them, 'This is happening, but you can do something about it as well.'"

afghanistan women journalism

Journalist Zahra Joya created a media company to amplify the voices of women in Afghanistan.

Vivek Vadoliya/Gates Foundation

2022 Changemaker Award: Zahra Joya (Afghanistan)

The Changemaker Award celebrates an individual who has inspired change using personal experience or from a position of leadership.

Zahra Joya is an Afghan journalist who is dedicated to ensuring women’s stories are told and shared with the wider public. Joya founded and self-funded Rukhshana Media, an online news agency focused exclusively on covering issues that affect the women of Afghanistan—the first national news organization of its kind.

Joya tells Upworthy she named her media company after an Afghan woman named Rukhshana, who was arrested, stoned and killed by the Taliban after fleeing a forced marriage in 2015. The name is a reminder of all the women who have lost their lives to traditionalist and extremist governments and Joya's goal is to defend the humanity of all women.

"For me, [winning this award] is huge," Joya says. “It’s my goal that one day Ruskhana Media can work as international media, not only in Afghanistan…and we can hire female journalists from across the world, and we can publish the stories and issues that affect women’s lives.”

India health

Dr. Radhika Batra helps provide health services to children and families in India.

Saumya Khandelwal/Gates Foundation

2022 Progress Award: Dr. Radhika Batra (India)

The Progress Award celebrates an individual who supports progress via a science, technology, digital, or business initiative.

Dr. Radhika Batra tackles health inequalities by providing healthcare solutions to disadvantaged children. While working as a resident doctor in a hospital in the slums of New Delhi in 2017, Batra founded Every Infant Matters. The organization has saved 74,173 children from blindness and given prenatal vitamins to more than 40,000 disadvantaged women. Every Infant Matters has also provided education to prevent gender inequality and to battle the stigma of TB, HIV/AIDS and blindness for more than 65,000 families.

European Union Ursula von der Leyen

European Union president Ursula von der Leyen played an integral role in global COVID-19 pandemic efforts.

European Parliament

2022 Global Goalkeeper Award Winner: Ursula von der Leyen (president of the European Union)

The Global Goalkeeper Award recognizes a leader who has driven progress toward achieving the SDGs on a global scale.

As a champion of global health and equitable access, von der Leyen helped created a global collaboration to get COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines into the hands of people around the world. She led the EU efforts to support lower-income nations in responding to and recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and announced a new European Commission’s contribution of €300 million to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

We can all take inspiration from these changemakers to make our own unique contribution to humanity's progress, however large or small. Omakwu reminds us that despite being recognized on a global stage, these women have done most of their work in isolation and against many odds.

"[These award winners] are not that different from us, but they've had passion and consistency and fearlessness,” Omakwu says. “Progress is possible if we do our part."

Learn more about the Goalkeepers Awards here.

True

The last thing children should have to worry about is where their next meal will come from. But the unfortunate reality is food insecurity is all too common in this country.

In an effort to help combat this pressing issue, KFC is teaming up with Blessings in a Backpack to provide nearly 70,000 meals to families in need and spread holiday cheer along the way.

The KFC Sharemobile, a holiday-edition charitable food truck, will be making stops at schools in Chicago, Orlando, and Houston in December to share KFC family meals and special gifts for a few select families to address specific needs identified by their respective schools.

These cities were chosen based on the high level of food insecurity present in their communities and hardships they’ve faced, such as a devastating hurricane season in Florida and an unprecedented winter storm in Houston. In 2021, five million children across the US lived in food-insecure households, according to the USDA.

“Sharing a meal with family or friends is a special part of the holidays,” said Nick Chavez, CMO of KFC U.S. “Alongside our franchisees, we wanted to make that possible for even more families this holiday season.”

KFC will also be making a donation to Blessings in a Backpack, a nonprofit that works to provide weekend meals to school-aged children across America who might otherwise go hungry.

“The generous donations from KFC could not have come at a better time, as these communities have been particularly hard-hit this year with rising food costs, inflation and various natural disasters,” Erin Kerr, the CEO of Blessings in a Backpack, told Upworthy. “Because of KFC’s support, we’re able to spread holiday cheer by donating meals for hunger-free weekends and meet each community’s needs,” Kerr said.

This isn’t the first time KFC has worked with Blessings in a Backpack. The fried chicken chain has partnered with the nonprofit for the last six years, donating nearly $1 million dollars. KFC employees also volunteer weekly to package and provide meals to students in Louisville, Kentucky who need food over the weekend.

KFC franchisees are also bringing the Sharemobile concept to life in markets across the country through local food donations and other holiday giveback moments. Ampex Brands, a KFC franchisee based in Dallas, recently held its annual Day of Giving event and donated 11,000 meals to school children in economically disadvantaged neighborhoods.

If you’d like to get involved, you can make a donation to help feed students in need at kfc.com/kfcsharemobile. Every bit helps, but a donation of $150 helps feed a student on the weekends for an entire 38-week school year, and a donation as low as $4 will feed a child for a whole weekend.

Celine Dion spoke directly to her fans on social media.

Celine Dion has shared the devastating news that she has been diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder called stiff person syndrome.

In an emotional video to her fans, the 54-year-old French-Canadian singer apologized for taking so long to reach out and explained that her health struggles have been difficult to talk about.

"As you know, I have always been an open book, and I wasn't ready to say anything before. But I'm ready now."

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Adam Sandler and Brendan Fraser for Variety's "Actors on Actors."

There are few actors in this world as universally loved as Brendan Fraser and Adam Sandler. So when the two sign on to interview one another, you can bet that people are going to be thrilled.

During one of Variety's “Actors on Actors” segments, the two swapped stories of being in the entertainment business—from the movie “Airheads," which they both starred in, to more recent projects like Sandler’s “Hustle” and Fraser’s “The Whale.”

It’s clear that these two respect and admire each other’s work. Sandler applauded Fraser’s career-long stride of making bold and interesting choices, and especially commended him for his starring role in Darren Aronofsky’s “The Whale,” which has been hailed as a major comeback for the “Mummy” franchise star.
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Tenacious D performs at the Rock in Pott festival.

The medley that closes out the second side of the Beatles’ “Abbey Road” album is one of the most impressive displays of musicianship in the band’s storied career. It also provided the perfect send-off before the band’s official breakup months later, ending with the lyrics, “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

In 1969, “Abbey Road” was the last record the group made together, although “Let it Be,” recorded earlier that year, was released in 1970.

At first, the medley was just a clever way for the band to use a handful of half-finished tunes, but when it came together it was a rousing, grandiose affair.

Arranged by Paul McCartney and producer George Martin, the medley weaves together five songs written by McCartney, "You Never Give Me Your Money," "She Came in Through the Bathroom Window," "Golden Slumbers," "Carry That Weight” and "The End," and three by John Lennon, “Sun King," "Mean Mr. Mustard" and "Polythene Pam."

Fifteen seconds after the medley and the album’s conclusion, there is a surprise treat, McCartney’s 22-second “Her Majesty,” which wound up on the record as an accident.

Jack Black and Kyle Gass, collectively known as Tenacious D, recently reimagined two of the songs in the medley, "You Never Give Me Your Money" and "The End," for acoustic guitars for a performance on SiriusXM's Octane Channel. Like everything with Tenacious D, it showed off the duo’s impressive musical chops as well as their fantastic sense of humor.

The truncated version of the medley was also a wonderful tribute to the incredible work the Beatles did 53 years ago.

Warning: This video contains NSFW language.

Joy

13 strangers became stranded at an airport, so they set off on a road trip together

The unlikely friends went viral online after documenting their 10+ hour journey.

@alanahsotry21/TikTok

From strangers to friends in one night.

Sometimes the greatest friendships are born out of the most unlikely circumstances.

Thanks to a canceled flight, 13 complete strangers found themselves stuck at Orlando International Airport on their way to Knoxville, Tennessee, with no way to get to their destination.

What started off as a disaster quickly turned around into an impromptu adventure, as the determined group banded together to rent a minivan and drive more than 500 miles from Orlando to Knoxville. Along the way they documented their travels, and the story was quickly picked up by news outlets like CNN, spreading like wholesome viral wildfire online.


The band of merry travelers hailed from different parts of the U.S. and Mexico, and didn’t all speak the same language. Plus each had their own reason for wanting to get to Knoxville. One college student was trying to make it back in time for her final. Another was hoping to tour her dream college with her mom and dad. A well-known farming influencer was set to deliver a keynote speech at a conference. A mother wanted to go fight for custody of her son, while another woman wanted to meet a friend to help her move. Others were just there to have fun.

Regardless of their differences, their road trip created unexpected community and a memory they won't soon forget.

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