WAFA Story


Honouring the World’s Silent Heroes
“It is our collective and individual responsibility to preserve and
tend to the world in which we all live.”

– Dalai Lama

WAFA (Water Air Food Awards), founded in 2008 and headquartered in Copenhagen,
is a forward-thinking, grassroots NGO committed to giving recognition to people who
ensure healthy water, air, food, and climate in their communities. We do this in the
simplest way possible – by identifying what’s already working towards that end and
shining a light on it. Simply put, we present the Humanitarian Grassroots Awards. We
identify, acknowledge, and celebrate people whose heroic efforts are ensuring that life
sustains in their communities. Our name for these environmental warriors? “Silent
heroes” – the unrecognized, unheralded, and unsung pioneers around the world
whose low tech, high impact solutions are making a profound difference – one village,
one community, one town at a time.

Just like the Oscars are awarded to extraordinary people in specific categories of
accomplishment, so are the WAFA Awards – four, to be more precise: water, air, food,
and climate action. Why these four? Because they are the environmental DNA of the
planet. Without access to healthy air, water, and food, and without a climate that
supports healthy air, water, and food our planet and millions of people will continue
suffering and dying before their time.

More About the People We Serve: There are two kinds of heroes in the world:
fictional and real. Most fictional heroes – like Superman, Wonder Woman, and
Batman – are well-known. Most real heroes are not. Unlike their classical Greek
counterparts, they are not half-God, half-human. They are 100% human – ordinary
people, against all odds, accomplishing extraordinary results. Invisible as they are to
most of humanity, WAFA is doing everything possible to shine a light on them. Busy
as they are with saving planet, we have gotten busy taking up their cause – calling
attention to their ingenuity, courage, and commitment. Our hope? That what these
amazing people are doing and how they are doing it will ignite everyday heroism in
every village, town, and city around the world. “Think global, act local” is also our
motto. Waiting around for governments and corporations to fix the world’s problems
has not worked yet, and, if the latest pandemic is any indication, is unlikely to work any
time soon. What’s needed is bottom up, grassroots solutions – environmental,

community-based breakthroughs that scale and replicate. That’s what WAFA’s work is
all about.

Mission: Participate in supporting and promoting silent heroes who successfully
provide access to healthy water, air and food for their communities.
Vision: Find successful community-based sustainable, scalable and replicable
initiatives in remote areas and tell their stories on a global awards platform.

Our Award Winners: Since 2010, WAFA has given 14 Awards to silent heroes
from ten different countries: Jordan, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, South Africa, Nicaragua,
China, Nepal, Haiti, India, and Canada. Award-winners have been chosen from 33
finalists from a group of 74 pre-selected candidates among 401 applicants from 82
countries. In 2023 we have received another 198 applications and selected 12
finalists. The awards and recognition of our award winners have received have
enabled many of them to attract grants, government support, corporate support,
donations, volunteers, and the kind of good will that has enabled them to continue
scaling and replicating their efforts.
Media coverage: Stories of WAFA’s Silent Heroes enjoy global reach. 84 million
people have had the opportunity to learn about the good news. Especially national
media in Silent Heroes’ home countries have been thrilled to feature their stories.  
What Award Winners Say:
Nicaragua: “On behalf of our project’s beneficiaries, the Fuprosomunic team, and
the entire country of Nicaragua, we wish to express our deepest gratitude for the work
WAFA is doing around the world, discovering and recognizing the work of
organizations like ours. Despite our modest resources, we provide simple and
practical solutions for families to better their home life and adapt to the new
challenges posed by global warming. Our work is not easy, but we move forward with
courage and determination. The worldwide recognition that WAFA offers us makes
our work visible to other nations. It also infuses us with enthusiasm, strength and
empowerment to continue doing what we do with joy and hope for a better world for
all of us. Thank you again for your noble work and wish you great success in your
South Africa: “Ebomvini Primary School saved 150,000 litres of water, organized a
water festival to educate our community, and obtained 75 water conservation
pledges. Recognized as South Africa’s top Water Explorer team by an expert
sustainability panel, our school appeared on South African television and radio before
an audience of millions. EPS representatives went on to represent South Africa at the

International Water Explorer event in London, networked with many other schools, and
won the Innovation and Student’s Choice Award. Since we won the WAFA award in
2018, we have travelled to London where our networking efforts with other school
helped us develop our project further. Millions of South Africans have been positively
impacted since our appearance on national television. Our project has subsequently
been duplicated by other schools. Local area contacts have also benefitted from us
receiving the WAFA Award. Our local Municipality, acknowledged the WAFA award to
be one of the greatest achievements by a school under their management.
Nigeria: In 2011, a poor, pregnant, traumatized young school girl approached her
22-year-old school teacher, Chukwudi Anyanaso, and asked for his support so she
could start a fish farm – the only way she could think to earn the money she needed
to support her unborn child.  Chukwudi, sensing the moment, was able to provide just
enough funding for the mother-to-be to turn her idea into a reality. And so began the
People and Planet Life Foundation, a grassroots organization with one goal in mind –
to eliminate rural poverty and hunger among the women farmers of Nigeria. Today,
eight years later, sparked by the vision by one silent hero and the team he created, 749
women, in Nigeria have established their own fish farms. PPLF’s goal? 43,000 fish
farms and women-lead enterprises by 2035. Explained Mr. Anyanaso, “The WAFA prize
money we received allowed us to scale up our community fish farm and add 800
fishes. It also enabled our women farmers to extend their knowledge to 120 other
poor, rural women in the area. Additionally, we’ve been able to fund the creation of a
10,000-capacity catfish farm for 200 women in a nearby community. Our plan, going
forward, is to inform other like-minded people, in our country, how they can also create
a positive impact in their own communities. Wow! Thank you a million times WAFA!”

WAFA’s Relationship with Award Winners: WAFA’s mission is to provide
the world’s silent heroes with the recognition needed to attract support to their
sustainability initiatives. Our efforts significantly increase the odds of award winners
receiving support from governments, corporations, research centres, philanthropists,
and grant giving organizations. Our business model, like the Oscars, is simple –
recognize greatness. That’s it. Simply put, we create the platform upon which the
Earth’s silent heroes can take their stand.

Our Patrons: To date, WAFA has secured the support of four very well-connected
movers and shakers – highly respected visionaries who have a deep commitment to
the healing of mother Earth, both physically and metaphysically.

• His Highness Tengku Amir Shah Ibni Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah Al-Haj,
Raja Muda: Crown Prince of Selangor State, Malaysia: “I congratulate WAFA for
seeking out exceptional sustainability pioneers in Malaysia. It is my fervent
hope and dream that many of Malaysia’s corporations will come forward to
form partnerships to scale the outstanding initiatives of WAFA’s silent heroes.”  

  • Her Royal Highness Princess Basma bint Ali of Jordan: “Even one small person
    can make a change, and I have seen this in all the WAFA finalists. The work you
    are doing is a huge inspiration to me – work that is not just limited to your own
    geographical location, but is happening all over the world. Thank you.”
  • Prem Rawat: Founder of the Peace Education Program, Food for People, and
    The Prem Rawat Foundation. “There is something phenomenal about WAFA’s
    efforts to reach out and recognize the world’s silent heroes – exceptional
    pioneers committed to restoring their communities and making a lasting
    difference in the world.”
    • Dr. Virginia Li: Research professor at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.
    Visiting professor at Kunming Medical University. Honorary professor of
    Guangdong Medical University. “WAFA’s commitment to the improvement of
    water, air and food around the world is so impressive, giving hope and joy to
    future generations. Right on!”
    Our Team: WAFA’s team of 24 volunteers hail from eleven different countries:
    Chile, Denmark, India, Italy, Malaysia, Nigeria, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, South Africa,
    Thailand, and United States. And while the cultural heritage of our volunteers varies
    widely, they all share one thing in common – a heartfelt sense of urgency to make the
    world a better, healthier place for everyone.

“Earth is what we all have in common.” – Wendell Berry

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