Wagner College is proud to have been selected as a host institution for President Obama’s Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative. The Mandela Washington Fellowship aims to empower young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities, and support for activities in their communities. From June 19th through July 31, Wagner is hosting 25 competitively selected young Africans who will participate in a six-week academic institute on Civic Leadership, part of the larger group of 500 Mandela Washington Fellows being hosted across the United States this summer.
This 6-week Institute has been designed to mirror Wagner’s Port Richmond Partnership, where Fellows will focus each week on a different pillar that is important to civic life in many communities. After an introduction to Theories of Civic Leadership, Fellows will engage in classroom sessions, site visits, and community service activities focused on Economic Development, Healthcare, Education, and the Environment. During Week 6 of the Institute, Fellows will put their learning into practice, developing grant proposals for their own not-for-profit interests and beginning to develop the means to achieve their goals.
For more information about Wagner College's Mandela Washington Fellowship program, contact:
- Ruta Shah-Gordon, Vice President for Internationalization, Intercultural Affairs and Campus Life
- Jason C. Fitzgerald, Academic Coordinator and Assistant Professor of Education
Wagner College's 2015 cohort of the Mandela Washington Fellowship created this chapbook of inspirational poetry:
Read bios of our Mandela Washington Fellows:
Natha Bashir is a professionally trained HIV and AIDS counsellor from Wajir, Kenya. She is currently secretary of the North Eastern Deaf Persons Empowerment Group, and having released the ignorance and strong cultural beliefs of communities in the North Eastern region towards disability (especially the deaf) she is now focused on empowering young girls and women to realize their rights, as entrenched in the constitution and in the UN Convention. She has varied experience in working with different organizations as an advocate for the rights of deaf people in Kenya, including the Kenya National Association of Deaf (KNAD), and Handicap International (a non-government organization). She has seen an increase in awareness of the importance of sign language in her own community, and upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, will create more partnerships to strengthen advocacy and encourage lobby groups so that deaf people in Kenya can enjoy equal rights.
Fabrice Bizimana has four years’ community experience focusing on education, health care, and community advocacy and is organizing, instructing, and empowering youth through the Burundi Friends International Organization. He promotes education in Burundi and helps his country to be integrated with the world. To break language barriers, he organized 54 English clubs servicing over 2,500 youth and established six English libraries. Fabrice is also a project manager for Resilient Communities International where he promotes healthy communities by setting up community-based health training. He works with Community Health Workers (CHWs), Rotary clubs and the Ministry of Health to design countrywide training of 10,000 CHWs. He has a Bachelor of Science in Law from Hope Africa University. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Fabrice plans to continue empowering his communities and the Burundian youth to help them get their voices heard and to think more, do more, and become more.
Elzaan de Wee is a freelance actress, activist, and a member of ChiNamibia which is an arts organization for development where she is the media department coordinator. She facilitates various workshops in community-based theatre, a field where she has over two years’ experience. Elzaan is one of the founders of the Theatre Night initiative which raises awareness for social issues like alcohol and drug abuse, unemployment, and poverty. Elzaan is currently volunteering as an arts educator using art for children and youth education empowerment and advocacy. She graduated from the College of the Arts in Windhoek, Namibia with a three-year Diploma in African Performing Arts, majoring in Theatre. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she plans to continue her work in arts education by raising social and arts awareness in general.
Aissatou Diallo has over eight years’ experience in various fields in the community development sector, particularly in education. She is currently a sponsorship manager at Aide et Action where she focuses on initiating forms of sponsorship, and getting sponsors from abroad who support education for needy children so they can have a better future, become responsible community leaders, be self-confident, and contribute to the economic development of their villages. She also volunteers in her local community by braiding for poor little girls during the feasts. To contribute to fight against poverty and young girls’ mutilation in her country, she decided to work for NGOs that stand for the development of communities. Aissatou holds a Master’s degree in Translation Business from the University of Guinea and upon completion of the Fellowship, plans to continue her work against women and young girls’ mutilation with a focus on advocacy for women’s rights.
Divine Dube is a communication expert with five years’ experience in media. He is currently the programs officer for Plumtree Development Trust, whose flagship initiative is Getjenge Community Radio. Dube works to assist the communities of Plumtree, Mangwe and Bulilima to access and share community development information through community media tools such as podcasting, bulk SMS, WhatsApp and other social media platforms. His portfolio also comprises community mobilization, civic participation project designing and implementation, social accountability, and governance issues. Dube is also the coordinator for Kalanga Language and Cultural Development Association, where he focuses on community mobilization and designing advocacy campaigns around language and cultural rights issues. Upon completion of the Fellowship, he envisages scaling up community media and development projects in Zimbabwe to benefit marginalized communities who are in still finding it difficult to freely access and share information.
Dube has written or succeeded in placing several pieces in the Zimbabwean press chronicling his experience as a Mandela Washington Fellow:
- “YALI Profile: Community activist pushes for grassroots voice in development,” NewsDay, June 22, 2015
- “MCZ trainee In Mandela Washington Fellowship,” Mobile Community Zimbabwe, June 23, 2015
- “ ‘Does Africa have rights in the UN?’ asks journalist Divine Dube,” Harare Times, July 2, 2015
- “Tech innovation a strong tool for civic engagement,” Mobile Community Zimbabwe, July 17, 2015
Neema Beatrix has been a teacher for three years and works in a secondary school in a village of the Lushoto District of Tanga, Tanzania. She holds a Bachelor of Arts with Education in Languages (English and Swahili) and has found being a teacher in a village requires more than just teaching. Neema has faced a number of challenges, as people tend to seek her advice on a number of issues and regardless of her profession her desire is to serve to the best of her ability. Tanga is a coastal region and girl’s education in coastal regions in Tanzania is not a priority, so upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship she is planning to invest much in girl’s education in the community she is working in by helping them join a school and finish with good results.
Papa Aly Gueye is a rap artist and founding member of a crew called Pat Ghetto, based in the suburbs of Dakar, Senegal. Since adolescence and high school he has engaged in neighborhood associations to participate in the process developing of his community and is also a founding member of a great organization called Guediawaye Hip Hop (2010), a training and reintegration center for youth businesses in hip hop. He currently serves as general secretary and artistic director, animates street conferences, and leads a citizen caravan in the frame of a flagship project named FoireCivico-Hip Hop, which is establishing a new collective consciousness. He used to empower and educate people of the suburbs about ownership of common property and the consequences of juvenile delinquency. After the program he plans to go back home and make up a challenge in those fields. LISTEN TO HIS MUSIC.
Saleh Ali Houssein has almost 10 years’ experience in project management and public relations working on the ground with CSOs in his native town, Ali-Sabieh. He volunteers helping his community, working with US Army Civil Affairs Team to set up useful small projects for youth and women. Sahfyr, ‘the friend of Americans’ as Assajog people used to call him, has initiated as his chief project with Friends of Open Books, the renovation of the first local library for youth and students. He is an English teacher in Ali-Sabieh middle school and volunteers teaching English to youth through the English club with other English teachers. Currently, he also leads a consulting firm, Focus&Zoom+ where he serves as a consultant and assists rural communities to set up projects. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, he plans to continue his engagement in the development of his community by assisting youth and women.
Chinomnso Traffina Ibe is a nurse, midwife, and maternal and child health advocate with eight years’ experience working directly with pregnant mothers and children in poor rural communities, providing them with free maternal and child health services. She is the founder and executive director of Traffina Foundation For Community Health, a non-profit organization that produces and distributes free Clean Delivery and Newborn kits. She also works on capacity-building and training for health care workers, as her contribution to reduce the high maternal and child mortality rate in Nigeria, and has produced and distributed 7,500 free birth kits across Kaduna, Kebbi, FCT, Imo, and Abia states saving more than 16,000 lives of mothers and newborns. She has good communication, advocacy, computer and management skills and upon completion of the Fellowship, plans to set up regional offices in each zone in Nigeria to expand her work. READ HER BLOG.
Brian started out as president of the ANTI-AIDS Drug Club at Kabwe High School 12 years ago, where he volunteered to teach fellow pupils on HIV/AIDS and was head boy. Currently, he is an award-winning artist known for using music as a tool to denounce various social ills including gender based violence, and HIV/AIDS. He volunteers as chairperson of the HIV/AIDS and Social Commentary Committee of the Zambia Association of Musicians. Endorsed as a brand ambassador for the USAID funded-SHARe II and AIDS Health Care Foundation, Brian is also a radio presenter at Komboni radio for a program about women empowerment, sponsored by the Ministry of Gender. Brian has an advanced Diploma in Social science and upon completion of the Fellowship, wishes to continue HIV/AIDS and gender activism through music and radio, and establish a record label empowering musicians who are willing to sing against social ills. READ HIS BLOG.
Joyce Laykah Kilikpo has over seven years’ experience in the health sector in Liberia, particularly in community health. Joyce is currently the founder and executive director of Public Health Initiative Liberia, a local health organization which is empowering communities to save lives. At her institution, she is focused on expanding and enhancing partnerships towards achieving her institution’s vision and mission. She also volunteers in her community by mentoring the youth, as well as providing education on sexual and reproductive health issues affecting them. Joyce holds a Master’s degree in Public Health, with an emphasis in Community Health. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she plans to continue to work in community health with a focus on improving health outcomes for women, the youth, and children through research and advocacy.
Sefora Marcelle Kodjo is the president of Sephis, an association for sustainable development in Africa. For many years she has been working effectively to promote gender equality, women’s rights, and female leadership in Côte d’Ivoire where she holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration. Through Sephis, Sefora lectures meetings and conferences in different universities in order to explain to young girls the real challenges they should get involved in. One of the topics she regularly lectures on is women’s empowerment, which she considers an important issue in the development process. Upon completing the Washington Fellowship, she hopes to share her new knowledge with her community by implementing new projects to improve living conditions of women in Côte d’Ivoire for real change.
Amenuveve Kudzu is a graduate in English and Human Resources Management and works as an HR manager at Foundation Piscare, and volunteers for sickle cell care units in Lome hospitals. After setting up the American Corner Fan Club in 2008 at University of Lome, she committed to advocating for the respect of the rights of people suffering from sickle cell. In this regard, she founded United Against Sickle Cell in 2011, an association aiming to fight the stigma people suffering from sickle cell anemia, allow them to have access to effective and affordable treatment, and importantly to empower them to be independent and enjoy a full and decent life without being a burden to their communities. Amenuveve is also a mentor to hospitalized children. She visits and entertains them twice a week through reading. Upon completion of the Fellowship, Amenuveve will be totally dedicate to fighting sickle cell anemia.
Irvine Mangawa is a medical doctor at Howard Hospital in rural Chiweshe. He is the founder of Tariro Adolescents Centre, a visionary initiative that seeks to sensitize health care providers, communities, and policy makers to the psychological, health, social, and economic needs of adolescents living with HIV. At its climax, the center should be able to bridge the gap in the provision of opportunities between urban and rural adolescents through offering services such as a youth friendly clinic, life skills, support, internet, arts etc. Irvine graduated from the University of Zimbabwe with a Bachelor’s degree of Medicine and Surgery in 2012. He is a public health enthusiast, and an accomplished volunteer, having participated in several medical outreaches in partnership with University of Zimbabwe Salvation Army Student Fellowship and University of Zimbabwe Christian Medical Fellowship. Upon completion of the Fellowship, he plans to enhance community participation in building a healthy society. READ HIS BLOG.
Georgine Auma Obura has over three years’ experience in various fields, particularly in advocacy and education. Georgine is currently the director of studies at Ngala Secondary School for the Deaf. She runs an informal educational foundation that focuses on keeping girls in school and obtaining funding for needy but bright deaf girls and boys. She also volunteers in various schools for the deaf as a mentor, where she delivers talks on life-skills and health, and encourages deaf students to live up to their full potential with a focus on the transforming power of education. Georgine holds a Bachelor’s degree in Special Needs Education from Maseno University. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she plans to continue her mentoring program, advocate for better and quality education for deaf students, and establish a formal education foundation that will strive to ensure deaf girls are kept in school, mentored, and empowered. READ HER BLOG.
Olusola Owonikoko has over four years’ experience as a social change leader working to promote healthy and productive living among vulnerable populations (children, women, people with disabilities) and marginalized communities. As the programs manager of HACEY Health Initiative, he designs and leads implementation of community development programs related to health and economic empowerment. He is the co-founder and coordinator of Project Enable, an initiative that empowers young disabled people with vocational and entrepreneurial skills while advocating for an inclusive society. He contributes to leadership development at grass-roots level through platforms such as CAAVAC, LEAPAfrica, and LEARN. Olusola holds a Bachelors’ degree in Microbiology, University of Ilorin and a certificate in Civic Leadership from West Africa Civil Society Institute. Upon completion of the Fellowship, Olusola plans to continue his advocacy work while building a career in leadership and organizational development towards helping organizations in Africa manage change and develop in leadership. READ HIS BLOG.
Also read Olusola Owonikoko’s blog, “Reflections of a Mandela Washington Fellow,” on the Hacey Health Initiative website:
- Social Exclusion: An Expression of Inequalities
- Are Africans Making Africa Vulnerable?
- Does Africa Need an Education Reform?
Rukayya Nasir Sani has over three years’ experience in general medical practice. She is currently a research clinician cum medical officer with the CAPIBD Research Project (Community Acquired Pneumonia and Invasive Bacterial Diseases in Nigerian Children). In this capacity, she resuscitates, treats, and follows-up with patients while enrolling them in the study. She is part of a volunteer group called Project Pink Blue, which aims to phase out late diagnosis of breast and cervical cancer through awareness and screening. She recently joined the Kano Hub of Global Shapers Community and holds a medical degree from Bayero University Kano, where she was Best Graduating Medical Student. She aspires to be among the pioneers of interventional cardiology in Nigeria. Upon completing the fellowship, she will continue to champion programs aimed at stemming the growing tide of non-communicable diseases in Nigeria, and helping to make specialized medical care more accessible to the underprivileged.
Sibiri Sanou has over three years’ experience in the community development sector. He is currently a cooperation officer for the Malian Citizen Inter-Community Council, a non-profit platform of associations for community development especially in literacy and economic assistance where he focuses on looking for financial partners and cooperating with member organizations at the grass-roots level. He also volunteers in tutoring senior high school students in English in his community. Sibiri holds a diploma of ENSup in English from the EcoleNormaleSupérieure of Bamako, a Bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Bamako, and is pursuing a Master’s degree in Management of Projects and Organizations at TechnoLab-ISTA, Bamako. Upon completion of the Fellowship, Sibiri plans to continue bringing vulnerable communities together in order to help them become self-sufficient through providing literacy and economic assistance with a focus on youth and women.
Marta Tsehay Sewasew has six years’ experience and involvement in several developmental programs on girl’s education, women economic empowerment, youth leadership, adolescent and youth reproductive health, and orphan and vulnerable children support projects. Currently, Marta is working for the Development Fund of Norway in Ethiopia as a program coordinator on the Girls Education and Youth Participation program, where she focuses on program design and development, management, monitoring, and evaluation. Further, Marta initiated a program called Mobile for Students Reproductive Health (M4SRH) for University students, which uses mobile technology to convey reproductive health messages. She also played an important role in the preparation of a national life-skills manual for students in Ethiopia. Marta has a Master’s degree in Social Work with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. She plans to continue her effort on scaling up girl’s education and the M4SRH initiative on completion of the Fellowship.
Emmanuel Siaway Jr. has five years’ experience in working with youth in areas of peace-building and livelihood development. He had been providing psychosocial support to patients at a leprosy colony in rural Liberia, prior to taking on a new course of work. Emmanuel now serves as a project officer for the Special Emergency Activity to Restore Children’s Hope (SEARCH), a local non-governmental organization concerned with women and children. Managing multiple projects, Emmanuel coordinates the successful implementation of projects through providing strategic advice, ensuring effective reporting and coordinating donor relations with SEARCH, as well as monitoring and rendering backstop support to field staff. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in social work from the Mother Patern College of Health Sciences in Monrovia. After completing the Fellowship, he plans to continue his advocacy for people affected by leprosy and will also work to promote tolerance among young Liberians through mentorship.
Youfeina Stéphane has three years’ experience across several different fields and humanitarian organizations. He holds Master’s degrees in both Law and English letters and is currently in charge of an education program within an NGO in Kaga Bandoro, Save The Children. He rehabilitated and now coordinates education activities within 19 schools in Kaga Bandoro, and handles the distribution of school kits for students and teaching materials for teachers, as well as supervising courses. Stéphane gives a lot of support to educational authorities and plans to organize professional training for young people unemployed or in the armed groups. Upon completion of the Fellowship, he plans to work in the field of protection in order to promote and guarantee the rights of children and women in periods of armed conflict.
Joel Dungula Tchombasi has over ten years’ experience in non-profit organization activism, particularly in albinos’ empowerment and protection. Currently, Joel has founded Fraternidade Albinística, a non-governmental organization which strives to empower and equip young albinos with essential life-skills as well as protect them from society’s negative attitude, discrimination, and humiliation by overcoming barriers that hinder them from enjoying human rights. His main focus has been on imparting essential life-skills to young albinos, including problem-solving, communication, time management, learning , computer, English language, and creativity skills so that they can be successful in their personal life, as well as in their future careers. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Joel plans to continue his work in the empowerment and protection of albinos with a focus on essential life skills development and advocacy for albinos’ civic and human rights.
Tadala Thembakako has more than three years’ experience in peer mentoring and advocacy for girls’ rights and education, and is passionate about communication and innovation with a particular interest in and talent for community building activities. Currently studying towards a master’s degree in youth development, in January last year she started Girls with a Vision Association, a community-based project aimed at empowering young girls with skills in talent and management, to know their sexual and reproductive health rights, and to inspire them through giving them role models. Tadala is a volunteer at Young Women’s Christian Association where she serves as vice president and communications officer. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she plans to continue her work in gender equality with a focus on advocacy for girls’ rights, and to register her project as an NGO so she is able to reach out to more girls in Malawi.
Christian Espérant Tomarielson is the co-founder of a powerful organization, Youth First and the leader of its flagship Young Women Leadership Program. He is the coordinator of Youth First’s newly implemented global citizenship program which envisions a national community of young people who believe in their self worth and are motivated to be leaders and change-makers in their communities. To promote women’s empowerment and leadership he volunteered to train 352 young women aged 18 to 24 from seven Regions of Madagascar, who in turn trained 1,025 more young women over the following two years. He is skilled in strategic communication, advocacy, and the teaching of English for communication. The Fellowship will foster his competencies in leadership and social volunteering, fundraising, and project financial management, to take Youth First’s expertise to the next level so it can fulfill its mission to become the core partner of the State, and an international reference.
Luthando is a city and regional planner with over four years’ experience in the area of spatial and transport planning. Currently, he is employed as an assistant director for integrated government planning at the Department of Transport and Public Works. He is also involved with Educating Athletes, an NGO which assists prospective youth athletes with their academic and sporting development. His involvement includes tutoring the athletes taking the program and marketing the organization to source funding. Luthando holds a Bachelor’s degree in Town and Regional Planning from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, is very passionate about development and creating sustainable human settlements, and aspires towards working for a development bank. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Luthando intends to continue growing the organization by focusing on girls in sport, and starting to mentoring the athletes in developing their leadership capabilities, as part of their character development.