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UD Washington Mandela Fellows
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Meet the fellows

Infographic by Jeffrey Chase

Institute for Global Studies announces 2017 class of UD Mandela Washington Fellows

The 2017 UD Mandela Washington Fellows will arrive in the United States one week from today.

The 25 young leaders hail from 20 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, including Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Selected from tens of thousands of applicants, UD’s fellows are among just 1,000 chosen to attend institutes across the U.S., joining a prestigious network of young African leaders who are at the forefront of change and innovation in their respective sectors.

The Mandela Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative and is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State with support from IREX. Founded in 2014, the fellowship invests in the next generation of African leaders, provides them with skills to take their work to the next level, and deepens connections between the U.S. and Africa.

The University of Delaware has hosted fellows each summer since the program’s inception in 2014.

Already established leaders in their respective fields, UD’s fellows have years of experience solving their home community’s most pressing challenges.

Some, like James Kaggwa from Uganda, have dedicated their professional career to securing access to quality health care for those living in rural areas. As a Global Health Corps Fellow, Kaggwa worked with Spark MicroGrants to establish five primary care clinics serving a population of more than 3,000 people.

“Financial sustainability is a big challenge faced by these health centers and to solve this, my team and I came up with a novel idea of a small-scale community health insurance plan and agricultural-based financing,” he said. “This works through community members forming small savings groups attached to health centers. A small percentage of their savings is contributed to the health center and used to purchase essential drugs while the rest benefits community members to access small loans.”

Others, like Gifty Mensah and Brighton Kaoma from Ghana and Zambia, respectively, have leveraged the power of radio to spread awareness for their causes.

Mensah broadcasts regularly from community radio stations, urging parents, guardians and local leaders to abolish child marriage and allow young girls at least basic education. “This has been a traditional practice spanning decades so the initial engagement with parents and community leadership was hostile, but as I introduced the stories of some of these girls through the media channels, it carried a clearer message of some of the dangers associated with child marriage,” she said, adding, “This won their attention.”

Kaoma grew up in the “heavily polluted town of Kitwe, Zambia, and faced the brunt of the consequences of pollution,” he said. Now, the 23-year-old runs a youth radio and leadership organization devoted to the issue. “Using radio and other low-cost communication technologies, we build local capacity to create and sustain community-based youth initiatives,” he wrote. “Training young people to report on pressing issues, share their struggles and find solutions… are among the things we do.” Kaoma is also a Global Youth Ambassador for the Children's Radio Foundation.

Rita Siaw, an educator from Ghana, has transformed the classroom experience for her students and others in the surrounding districts by introducing a new reading and writing curriculum. “It is about using picture stories, role play and dramatization to teach reading and writing effectively. I guided my pupils to write out creative stories from pictures I draw into four scenes which forms a four-paragraph story,” she said.

Among the cohort are specialists in a range of areas, including community development, democracy building, disability rights advocacy, human rights law, reproductive health, LGBTQI rights, media independence and accountability, mental health, and youth empowerment.

The fellows will arrive at UD on Friday, June 16, to begin six weeks of intensive civic leadership training, including sessions by University experts, meetings with local government officials, a peer collaborator program and site visits and volunteer work with Delaware organizations.

According to Wini Farag, from Sudan, the fellowship will help her better understand her local challenges within a global context. “The exchange of ideas and experiences with different participants and the institutions themselves will inspire me in a way that may create a different perspective, opening my eyes to the other effective approaches to transform my community positively,” she said.

In August, the program will come to a close in Washington, D.C., as fellows from across the United States convene for the annual summit. Select fellows will spend an additional six weeks in professional development training with U.S. non-governmental organizations, private companies and government agencies.

Follow along

This summer, fellows will share their experiences on the official UD Mandela Washington Fellowship blog. Those interested are also invited to follow @UDGlobal on Instagram and Twitter and engage using the hashtags #UDMWF and #YALI2017.

A special social media campaign, #UDGlobalSummer, allows those with interest to meet the participants in all four U.S. Department of State programs hosted by UD and facilitated by the Institute for Global Studies this summer.

To learn more about the UD Mandela Washington Fellowship, visit the IGS website and contact Kim Bothi, community engagement director, or Gretchen Bauer, academic director.

About the Institute for Global Studies

The Institute for Global Studies (IGS) was created in 2009 to enhance the international dimensions of teaching, research and outreach at the University of Delaware. IGS provides leadership and support for programs and experiences that contribute to the education of informed, skilled, open-minded citizens of the world.

Best known for coordinating the University’s study abroad program, IGS also awards scholarships and grants to faculty and students, administers State Department-sponsored programs such as the UD Fulbright Initiative, Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) Student Leaders Institute and the Study of the U.S. Institutes for Student Leaders on Women’s Leadership (SUSI-WL) program, and sponsors globally-focused events throughout the year.

IGS collaborates with campus partners, including the Office for International Students and Scholars, the Confucius Institute and the Center for Global and Area Studies. In addition, IGS partners with Enrollment Management to coordinate the UD World Scholars Program.

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