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Educating the Future: Former Miss Africa USA’s Mission to Empower the Youth

Having an educated population is crucial for developing a country's economy which in turn, provides more opportunities for kids to positively impact their communities after they receive an education.

It is not uncommon for impoverished areas throughout Africa to experience educational disparity. Where there is immense poverty, focusing on how to survive is all people are conditioned to do and, unfortunately, that mentality gets passed on to the next generation. Nereida Lobo, former Miss Africa USA (2016-2017), stands as a beacon of change with her non-profit organization, Little Crowns.

With unwavering determination, a heart decorated with compassion, and a vision fueled by empathy and a commitment to change, she founded Little Crowns, an organization dedicated to transforming the lives of children in impoverished areas through education.

The Accra Times’ Truelove Arhin had a chat with Nereida to delve into the inspiring journey of Little Crowns, the story behind the mission, the challenges faced, and the countless lives touched by this remarkable initiative.

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This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

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You were born and raised in the beautiful Republic of Cape Verde, how was life growing up and how would you describe your country?

Growing up in Cape Verde, some of my favorite memories were playing games with my siblings, taking pleasure in the small things, and assisting my mother in the kitchen. playing in the village with my pals. I describe my country as one of Morabeza, Unity, and caring for each other.

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What made you decide to compete in Miss Africa USA?
The reason I was intrigued to participate in Miss Africa USA was that I viewed it as a chance to utilize the pageant as a platform to advocate for a subject that was important to me: children’s education. It was such an empowering and uplifting experience. It was an empowering and uplifting experience that helped to mold my life; I made a lot of new friends and realized how important networking and meeting people was.

Educating the Future: Former Miss Africa USA’s Mission to Empower the Youth
Nereida with school children in Ghana


Along with a few other countries, you recently visited Ghana, what made you want to visit Ghana and want to help in the country?

During my first trip to Ghana in 2017 as Miss Africa USA, I contributed to a town in Eastern Ghana. The smile on the kids’ faces and the atmosphere surrounding it made me realize that I was exactly where I should have been at that very time. I knew then and there what my mission was, and I can’t help but find myself returning. It’s the people and the culture. It’s an indescribable feeling and it seems as though I am being called to do something not just in Ghana but other parts of Africa.

Educating the Future: Former Miss Africa USA’s Mission to Empower the Youth
Nereida with school children in Ghana

What inspired you to start your NGO Little Crowns?
My early years were spent on the island of Brava, Cape Verde, and that served as my inspiration for creating Little Crowns non-profit. My parents lacked the funds to purchase basic school supplies. I carried a garbage bag as a backpack, and we shared books. I am aware of the hardships my parents faced, and I can only speculate about the number of children in Africa who share the same experiences. I therefore wanted to take every action I could to lessen that pressure. A quote from Nelson Mandela truly resonates with me, “Education is the most powerful weapon.”

Educating the Future: Former Miss Africa USA’s Mission to Empower the Youth

And how has that journey been like for you? What event or initiative has created a memory you’ll never forget?
The journey has been incredible thus far. I’ve had a lot of support for the cause and I’m always working to increase its influence. In addition to delivering educational supplies, we launched “Toys for A Smile” in 2018 with the goal of providing toys to children in Africa for the holidays in December. Since many kids don’t get to enjoy toys over the holidays, the intention is to make these children happy and joyful. This all makes the journey worth it.

What was your initial goal for the organization and do you think you’re achieving it?

Providing educational resources to children in impoverished areas has always been Little Crown’s goal. With a great deal of help, we were able to and are continuing to accomplish it. However, we still have a long way to go, our goals include building new schools, repairing existing ones, and providing financial aid for children’s education.  Currently Little Crowns is renovating two classrooms in Osiabura, Ghana.

What has been the most challenging part of this journey? 

Difficulties and barriers exist in everything in life but raising awareness and securing funds have been our main challenges.

And what has been the most fulfilling part?

Witnessing happiness is the most gratifying feeling.

What are some practical ways people can help positively impact the next generation?

There are numerous ways to impact the future generation for the better. Education, in my opinion, is one of the most important factors in influencing the generation of the future. People have a better chance at living better lives when poverty and hunger are eradicated through education. Having an educated population is crucial for developing a country’s economy which in turn, provides more opportunities for kids to positively impact their communities after they receive an education. Many kids say they would like to work as physicians, attorneys, or government officials when asked, which shows the desire for knowledge. We consider it to be a useful instrument for encouraging children’s, families’, and communities’ sustainable growth.

How can we support Little Crowns?

You can help us with our causes and make a difference in the lives of these kids in a lot of ways. One can contribute to school renovations or sponsor a child’s education, as well as donating school items. You can follow us on Instagram at @little_crowns_org to get in touch with us and learn more. Our website is currently under maintenance.

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