Esther Ajari is the founder of The TriHealthon, a .ORG that seeks to improve the health and wellbeing of vulnerable populations in Africa, particularly women and children, and our 2021 .ORG Impact Awards Rising Star Winner. As an unconventional medical researcher, she is changing the health, gender equality, and education narrative in Africa one project and policy at a time.

 

Why did you apply to the .ORG Impact Awards?

I almost did not apply. I saw the opportunity in 2020 and saw it was amazing, but I thought, what are the odds I am going to win. Then I saw it again the next year. I did research on Public Interest Registry (PIR) and the CEO, Jon Nevett, and how websites come together. PIR was inspiring—it is an organization that highlights your work and everything you do, so I told my team. They wanted to help me write it so at that point, I said “Let’s go for it.” Months later, I was screaming with joy after making the final stage!

 

What advice do you have for future Rising Stars?

There is no perfect time to start making a difference. Do not listen to the voice asking “But are you ready,” or wait to be in the right place. Every year will bring something else to worry about. If you have the passion and you keep being consistent with the work, others will join in. Furthermore, human resources are the best resources. You will never achieve as much without them.

 

How has your team supported your mission?

The team behind me wasn’t as successful at first. There were a lot of team members that wanted to be around me and didn’t want to disappoint me, but did not have the passion for the work. The work is very difficult and it’s largely unpaid. Therefore, if you don’t have the passion for it, you start getting burnt out. 

 

Now my team has four core members who started with me, and fifty eight committed volunteers. I value them so much, help build their capacity, and get them grounded in the work. Again, human resources are the best assets organizations can have. Everytime I get tired, I look at these people and their belief in me re-energizes me. They saw the spark in my eyes and I always want them to keep seeing the spark. My team is a big part of what I can do, and they deserve all the kudos. The TriHealthon would not be the same without them.

 

As a young changemaker, how do you balance your work?

Esther is currently in her seventh and final year of medical school.

I prioritize what I want to do. Nothing comes above my work with The TriHealthon, and I am rigid about keeping the time for it. Also, for me, I am blessed that maintaining good grades is a natural gift and I can do international work remotely. The organizations I work with—we don’t have to all be in the same place. I can review policy documents and study at the same time. I don’t have to physically be there which makes multitasking easier. But again, I always set aside time for The TriHealthon, and nothing is going to change that.

 

What keeps you motivated?

Before I started The TriHealthon, I volunteered with twenty five different organizations, and I was a small piece of the puzzle. I started to feel greedy in a way. When I saw the people whose lives were changing, I wanted to be the reason their faces lit up. Every waking moment I wanted to make their life a bit easier. Then when I started, young people saw me, another young person, doing something in the community despite my age and vulnerability and were inspired. Community work is a chain reaction. It just keeps going and it keeps me going. Today could be a difficult day, but a young girl or young boy in the field could see me and it could make a difference. That inspires me daily.

 

What has been the benefit of being the 2021 Rising Star?

This award is different from any other one I have received. The award is more than money. It is a continuous connection, it is a platform, and it provides opportunities to share your mission. You become part of the .ORG family!

 

Anything else you would like to share?

Anyone that decides to go into the sexual and reproductive health development field, I am here for guidance and to bounce ideas around with! Reach out!

 

 Learn more about her .ORG Story or visit the The TriHealthon website