Global recognition for Orygen youth leader, Ahmad Nisar

Global recognition for Orygen youth leader, Ahmad Nisar

2 April 2024

Orygen’s Ahmad Nisar has received a prestigious Global Citizen Youth Leaders Award for his work supporting youth mental health in Afghanistan and Orygen’s international fellowship program.

Nisar is Fellowship Facilitator for Orygen Global and established Changemaker – a youth-led initiative that provides mental health counselling online and free of cost to vulnerable young people, particularly women in Afghanistan.

Orygen Global Director Craig Hodges said Nisar’s experience of resettling in Australia from Afghanistan last year gave him unique insights into youth mental health.

“As an initial participant in our global fellowship program, and now as its facilitator, Ahmad has been able to utilise his own experience to support other fellows on their advocacy journey,” Hodges said.

“Ahmad's advocacy background in humanitarian settings and a global context enriches his perspective and awareness of the needs of priority populations through an intersectional lens.

“He is particularly passionate about empowering young people to make a difference and to advocate for change in their own countries and communities.”

Another former Orygen Global youth mental health advocacy fellow, Phatsaline Vongsaly, was also among the 32 young innovators and advocates to receive the award from Global Citizen – an international education and advocacy organisation dedicated to ending extreme poverty, headquartered in New York.

Nisar, now aged 19, started advocating for youth mental health when he was just 15.

He said the award and $5000 funding from Global Citizen would help him expand his work at Changemaker.

“At Changemaker we advocate for equality in terms of access to opportunities and services. There’s such a huge gap between the global north and the global south in terms of access to mental healthcare and resources. Westernised concepts of mental health are not always applicable,” Nisar said.

“We want to bridge that gap – to produce resources that are contextualised for people in low-income countries in different parts of the world, to reflect on real-life experiences and stories of resilience that are locally-driven.

“This award is particularly critical at a time when human rights are being violated everywhere, especially in Afghanistan. Let this be a demonstration that we will never stop advocating for social justice.”

In addition to providing mental health counselling, Changemaker’s programs include promoting gender equality through storytelling and comic books, lobbying and public awareness. In the past, programs have included educating under-resourced students in Afghanistan with literacy skills.

Global Citizen provides each awardee with funding towards their organisation, and ongoing collaboration with Global Citizen and established change makers.