Meeting the 2020 Viktor Frankl Awardees

WYA is a place of inspiration, determination, and friendship which one enters into in order to seek and defend a very crucial element of our world: the human person.” – Rebecca Bruch, 2020 Viktor Frankl Awardee for North America

 WYA is delighted to present the Viktor Frankl Award to exemplary members from the Philippines, Kenya, Spain, Mexico, Lebanon, and the United States of America.

Now on its fourth year, the Viktor Frankl Award is presented to outstanding members of the World Youth Alliance who have made vital contributions in upholding the mission of promoting human dignity in their communities. Read on and meet our awardees for this year:



WYA Africa Awardee: Hariet Wangeci Mwaniki (Kenya)

“The world is not perfect but through WYA, something is being done, something is being said to protect human dignity and that is a big drop of good in the world today,” shares Wangeci when asked about WYA.

Since becoming a member in 2017, Wangeci has engaged in as many WYA programs as she could. She has not only attended various WYA workshops and events but also volunteered as an emcee for events such as The Africa Arts Forum, Film and Photography Workshop, FEMM workshop, WYA Africa BBQs, Youth Summit, etc. A highlight of her active involvement was through the WYA high school clubs and Furaha camp a counselor for the last 3 years. “Every time young people are able to arrive at the truth about the concept of dignity and the truth about human beings and relate it to their day to day lives, I find my greatest joy.”

Aside from this, Wangeci also underwent the WYA Africa Internship. “The WYA internship was and still remains to be a great experience that as many young people as possible should go through.” Through all of her great experiences with WYA, Wangeci shares the biggest lesson that the organization has taught her: “Human beings are their own solution to a better world. Human beings are also their own biggest enemies to a better world. The difference of being on the side of Truth is in information translated into action.”

WYA Asia Pacific Awardee: Dave Mariano (the Philippines)

“You only become a “Legit” young person once in your lifetime. Might as well maximize that sweet spot and be radically idealistic in leaving a positive influence thus leading to a change in the world.” This personal message rings true in Dave’s experiences as a WYA member.

After joining the first Emerging Leaders Conference in WYA Asia Pacific (WYAAP), he then became a regional intern in 2012. He remained active with WYA since, from being one of the first members to pilot the Human Dignity Curriculum in the Philippines to being a speaker for WYAAP’s events.

When asked about his most memorable moment in WYA, Dave shares the time when he as an intern accompanied WYAAP’s former Regional Director to attend the last session voting of the controversial Reproductive Health (RH) bill at the congress. “The congress was full with people wearing purple for the Pro-RH while the other side of hall are wearing red for those who are against it. I think it was one of the unforgettable experiences of my advocacy experience being a representative of the youth.”

To summarize his WYA journey, Dave shares his perspective of what WYA does for the youth. “(WYA) is a beacon of hope for people who lack and who are looking for purpose in life. It’s an ideal platform for collaboration, innovation and creativity in which it opened up my eyes on the richness of interaction happening worldwide, learning different perspectives and lessons from different people from all walks of life.”

WYA Europe Awardee: Oscar Pau (Spain)

“With solidarity and respect for the other, we can achieve a better society. The truth exists, and the struggle to achieve it started a long time ago. We have a heritage of great people (like Viktor Frankl, Lewis, Gandhi etc.) who have left us the way prepared for us to continue defending it.” This was the great call to action Oscar imparted in talking about his journey with WYA.

He joined WYA in 2015 when he was the director of Areté, an institution who had just started a collaboration to conduct the Certified Training Program in Pamplona. When he gained a better understanding of what WYA was doing, he led the creation of a WYA Chapter in Pamplona, Spain. Today, Oscar also serves in the WYA Spain National Committee

“I have always been a simple student who likes philosophy and believes that there is a set of truths that must be respected. The only difference between me and a future WYA member is that this person, perhaps, has not yet decided to take the step. Many times, taking that step is not easy, because it gives the impression that one is alone or that one cannot bring about change. But there is the fallacy: no one is alone and no one can do it alone. When I joined WYA, I realized that it was full of people willing to help me. 

From WYA members like Antonie, Hrvoje and Anita who were always willing to help with whatever was necessary, even to travel to Pamplona and educate us. Like other people who saw WYA as the institution that defends what they have always thought and have never dared to say. Therefore, I would say two things to a person who wants to join WYA: The first is you are not alone, and the second is that change can be achieved through everyone’s collaboration.”

WYA Latin America Awardee: Sebastián Luna González (Mexico)

“WYA to me means more than just a non-profit organization. To me, WYA is my second family.” Sebastián’s first encounter with WYA was through his school teacher, Ana Huerta (a WYA alumni who was also a 2018 Viktor Frankl Awardee).

After learning about WYA’s mission, he knew that he wanted to work for the organization. Sebastián proceeded to complete the CTP training and represent the Latin America region in the 2016 International Solidarity Forum. He later on became a Headquarters Intern in the summer of 2019.

In sharing the best lesson he’s learned in WYA, Sebastián mentions the CTP to be the catalyst for helping him forgive the people who had abused him for so long. “For me, to study the CTP was a really rich experience. Not only was I progressing to be a member but I also learned about human dignity in a more deep and complete way in the process. I learned how all people should always be treated equally and how our human dignity cannot be erased, damaged, or modified. No one has the power and the right to treat you like you are less.

This was a meaningful lesson, it helped me to overcome a really difficult situation with bullying during middle school…I am very grateful to the people who supported me during those difficult years but also to WYA for opening my eyes and showing me the value I have as a person.” Today, Sebastián continues the mission by serving as the WYA Queretaro Co-Chapter Leader.

WYA Middle East Awardee: Omar Badr (Lebanon)

You can always find a way to defend human dignity, even in the worst of cases. If there’s a will, there’s a way.” This piece of wisdom resonates with how Omar encountered WYA: through a simple call on Facebook to sign up for the CTP.

That seemingly small act launched him to represent WYA Middle East in the Emerging Leaders Conference on Human Dignity and Bioethics held in Brussels, Belgium in 2017. After returning, Omar continued to represent and introduce WYA through public speaking events, in schools and universities around Lebanon in collaboration with the United Nations Information Center. He currently serves at the head of the Lebanese National Committee, having served as a member for more than 3 year. True enough, Omar advises his peers, “Never miss any opportunity. Always volunteer whenever you can, even if the opportunity seems boring, you never know what you might experience or who you might meet.”

When asked about his hopes for WYA, Omar shares, “I hope that message WYA can reach youth globally who have no access to the internet so that they can be more aware of human dignity and so that they can contribute their own voice and opinion.” 

WYA North America Awardee: Rebecca Bruch (USA)

“When working for something so noble and fundamental to our day-to-day experiences, that is defending and promoting the dignity of the human person in numerous distinct facets of our lives, one must not be discouraged if there is not substantial fruitfulness of the project. This does not mean that hard work has not happened. Nor does it mean that I myself am not enough to make our goals fruitful. It is a reminder that good things take time to mature and grow.” This nugget of wisdom is a great way to describe Rebecca’s valuable contribution as a WYA member.

 After attending the Emerging Leaders Conference (ELC) held in her university, a conversation with the WYA North America Regional Director and the Benedictine College WYA Chapter Leader led her to taking the CTP a week later and joining the club on campus that semester.

Soon, she was accepted as a summer intern for WYA. “My summer (2018) with WYA as an intern was hard-work, but also incredibly life giving! We had an incredible group of interns, who by the end of the summer felt like family! We lead the International Summer Program, and visited the UN a few times, along with lots of projects and training! I was also given the honor of being the new chapter President before the internship and worked on projects during the internship for the Chapter!”

In the fall, Rebecca was also involved in planning the ELC on Bioethics in her campus. She also connected her college’s nursing department with WYA sister’s organization (FEMM) and helped coordinate WYA Founder Anna Halpine’s visit in 2019.  “I have hope that the small ways I have worked for WYA and promoting the dignity of the human person, will bear much fruit somewhere down the line. I have peace in knowing that this work continues to be passed down and I will continue to promote WYA to all I encounter.”

This year’s awardees will be recognized on March 5 at the WYA Headquarters in New York City.

Once again, WYA warmly congratulates these amazing members for their stellar contribution as young people to WYA’s mission. Watch this page in the coming months as we release special features of how these members continue to bring WYA to their communities.