Noma is a rapidly progressive and poly microbial  infection of the mouth.

The disease is mainly caused by malnutrition or dehydration, poor hygiene, unsafe drinking water, proximity to unkempt livestock, recent illness, and immunodeficiency diseases.

Kidist who has a bachelors in law and a Masters in Gender and Development from the University of Addis Ababa is passionate about helping victims of the deadly disease. She is also a YALI RLC alumna.

People call it the disease of poverty. It is extremely dangerous and can kill within three to six months or leave you with serious facial deformity.

I work for a medical charity, Facing Africa Ethiopia where we give free facial reconstructive surgery. Unfortunately, 90% of the victims die upon infection because they do not seek medical attention. This is mainly because of ignorance, shame or stigmatization.

We put in a lot of hours in to awareness, lobbying, training and sensitization in the communities.

And because it mostly affects people from disadvantaged backgrounds, it makes our work hard as most  of them believe it’s a curse and go in to hiding if they contract it. 

I however, can not describe to you the amount of joy I have when we get to treat our patients. Majority of our patients are children aged two to six years.

Kidist also puts in a lot of her free time in to tracing Noma patients and especially the ones who have not reached the deformity level. That is how passionate she is about her work.

We are a charitable organization and our major challenge is sustainability for the project. My plea is for organizations within and without Ethiopia who are interested in eradicating this monster to join us in this fight.

Kidist believes that opportunities are everywhere for young African leaders.  Her advice to fellow young Africans is to start looking at challenges in a different way. Whenever there’s a complaint, therein lies a huge opportunity.


Kidist (in blue) with her cohort mates @YALI

To unwind, the lionhearted young leader loves hanging out at social events. We wish you the very best young fearless leader.