Meet the youngest president of a charitable organisation in Europe

When Léa Moukanas found she had been admitted to the London School of Economics and to Sciences Po, she chose to remain in France so she could continue her non-profit work here. We talked to Léa, the youngest president of a charitable organisation in Europe, about her commitment. This interview is the fourth in our 2017 #FirstYearsScPo series.

Léa Moukanas, you chose to stay in France because of your volunteer work. Can you tell us more about it?

I’m the president of a non-profit organisation. Two and a half years ago, my grandmother died of leukemia and I founded a cancer charity that bears her name: Aïda. Its goal is threefold: to support children and teenagers with cancer along with their families, with visits at home and in hospitals; to fund research on child cancer; and to educate young people about the disease. We are currently working with 200 children. That’s why I preferred to stay in France. I think that when you take on responsibilities, you have to see them through. There are children’s lives at stake; we owe it to them to be loyal in our support.

You founded your own charitable organisation at age 15?

Yes. To start with I got my classmates on board and later my cohort. At first when we went to hospitals it could be difficult; more than once we were told we were a bit young! But today we have nearly 300 volunteers in 30 high schools in France. One of the features of this charity is that it promotes young people’s involvement and the fact that they’re taking responsibility. In two years, Aida has raised more than 200,000 euros. And my little brother, who is in charge of the sports section, is responsible for a third of this sum.  He’s only 15. But this doesn’t mean we refuse to let adults join us! Our accountant is my old maths teacher from high school.

What will Sciences Po bring to your work to fight cancer?

Sciences Po can be a good way to continue doing what I do, but making it all more professional. In particular, there is a science and humanities course taught by Daniel Benamouzig that I can’t wait to take! It’s about the history of public health and of medicine, and I’m very interested in health economics. I realize that you can always do better in healthcare: treat more people and treat them better, with a better quality of life during treatment and with fewer after-effects.

And afterwards?

After my Bachelor’s, I’m thinking of doing the Master of Public Affairs at the Sciences Po School of Public Affairs. But I’m keeping in mind something I heard in the first few days of the semester: we were advised “not to know what we want to do”. I found that strange, but just three weeks since the semester started, I can see that I’ve already changed a lot in my thinking. When I started my courses, my overriding goal was the non-profit, and now I’m thinking I could have another job while I run it. And why not go on to a doctorate?

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