Kimmie Weeks '01
Kimmie Weeks '01 began his life's work as a child's rights activist when he was a 10-year-old experiencing the horrors of the Liberian civil war in the 1990s. Forced to flee his country at age 17 when former President Charles Taylor threatened to assassinate him for speaking out against the government's practice of using child soldiers in the war, Weeks sought asylum in the United States. He came to NMH, where he organized an all-school fundraising effort called Project Liberia, and subsequently graduated from Amherst College. He won a Golden BRICK award (called the "Oscar of youth service awards" by CNN) in 2007 for his work with Youth Action International, which he founded while at Amherst. The group works to help women and children and to rebuild communities in war-torn regions of Africa. More recently, the new Liberian president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, named Weeks a Knight Grand Commander, the country's highest honor. Weeks's work has gained attention from world leaders as well as the media: The BBC released the documentary "Kimmie Weeks: Back to the Front," and he is also featured in the new book Peace in Our Lifetime as an international peacemaker, along with Nelson Mandela, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Since he first gathered a group of children to clean up war debris in the streets of his Liberian hometown as a way to turn fear and hopelessness into action, Weeks has vowed to help make the world a better place for children.