The humanitarian fighting for a forgotten people

For four decades the Sahrawi people of Western Sahara have fought for the independence of their country against Moroccan occupation. Described by humanitarian Catherine Constantinides as Africa’s last remaining colony, the territory is coveted for its rich reserves of phosphates and the potential for oil exploration. In this saga the sad global history of land-struggles plays out again, as demand for resources outweighs the wellbeing of people in the minds of the powerful. But not for Constantinides. Never.

Constantinides is a social entrepreneur and human rights and climate activist. She focuses on solving climate and social justice issues. In visiting Sahrawi refugee camps across the border in Algeria, she is drawing attention to the plight of these forgotten people, who survive on sparse aid from outside while leaders bicker. The battle needs to be won in the political sector, but support from people like Constantinides shows those on the ground that they are seen. A former Miss Earth, her drive to inspire a better world extends from fostering the happiness of people to advocating for the protection of our planet and its treasures. As the founder of Generation Earth, she engages students and learners in discussions about environmental and climate issues, driving solutions that will make a difference in South Africa and across the continent.

Constantinides has collected a host of accolades for her lifelong activism, including being chosen as an Archbishop Tutu Leadership Fellow and Mandela Washington Fellow. Constantinides also featured in season three of 21 Icons as part of an ensemble dubbed the next generation of South African leaders. But our future will not be about individuals. It will be about us. Together.