In honor of Black History Month, and in coordination with our excellent MAG colleagues working all over the world, we have chosen to spotlight some of the incredible Black women and men who inspired them within the three decades MAG has been in operation.
From a strong matriarch to a courageous political trailblazer to one of the most remarkable heads of state in history, these people have made an enormous impression on us and we hope that their incredible stories also resonate with you.
Halima Ibrahim, as chosen by Elimam Hassan
For Elimam Hassan, a Community Liaison Manager working with MAG in Iraq, his inspiration is Halima Ibrahim — his mother.
"I feel proud to be a Black African — I grew up in a small village in western Sudan where education had no place and encouragement.
"But I am proud of my mother, who encouraged me and made every possible effort to complete my education.
"I am now the first and only Sudanese person who has worked and is still working in MAG and the only Black person in the Iraq program.
"Such a high position could not have been achieved for Black people like me if not for my mother's struggle to support my education, and the equality of employment and the diversity of people working in MAG."
Shirley Chisholm, as chosen by Delia Maphosa
Delia Maphosa, MAG's diversity and inclusion manager, has been inspired by the first-ever Black candidate to run for a major party's nomination of President of the United States — Shirley Chisholm.
"My inspiration was the first African American woman elected to Congress.
"Beset by racism and sexist opposition, Shirley Chisholm not only became the first female to run for Presidency, but she also advocated for people's rights, especially those in underserved communities — under the banner 'I am and always will be a catalyst for change.’
"She made me realize that it is OK to be a strong woman with a strong mind and an equally strong personality and that I shouldn’t be afraid to stand out and stand up for what I believe in and to do it unapologetically.
"She made me realize I am not defined by gender imagery, the color of my skin or my age. Her famous slogan 'UNBOUGHT and UNBOSSED' is a strong and fierce declaration that has given me courage and boldness to continue being authentic to me and what I stand for."
Nelson Mandela, as chosen by Philip Mwatsera
Philip Mwatsera, MAG Zimbabwe's Deputy Community Liaison Team Leader, has been inspired and driven by Nelson Mandela and his ability to use his experience of oppression to build a positive future for his country.
"There are many people who inspire me from various walks of life. Some are famous people who have changed the world for the better. I feel that it was the vision and determination of Nelson Mandela that became the epitome of the fight against the unjust and tyrannical apartheid system of South Africa.
"For the cause of creating an equal and fairer society, Nelson Mandela paid with an interminably long jail sentence. Yet, despite the injustice of going to jail for trying to overthrow apartheid, Nelson Mandela did not become embittered and vengeful.
"Nelson Mandela has many good qualities, but, undoubtedly, his quality of forgiveness rates very highly…Mandela sought to maintain a dignified stance, forgiving those who had so unjustly incarcerated him.
"His life and vision inspired me to work hard in my education to achieve BSc and MSc degree in Sociology and Social Anthropology and work hard in fighting poverty and inequality — above all, working hard to achieve a fairer society."
We are delighted to honor just a handful of the amazing people who continue to inspire MAG staff around the world.