Washington, D.C. – Bread for the World is pleased to host Fouzia Dahir from northern Kenya, who is participating in the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, the new flagship program of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Obama launched YALI in 2010 to support young African leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democratic governance, and enhance peace and security across Africa.
“With nearly one-third of the population between the ages of 10 and 24, and about 60 percent under the age of 35, Africa is the youngest continent,” said Faustine Wabwire, senior foreign assistance policy analyst at Bread for the World Institute. “YALI is a great opportunity to engage the next generation of leaders on global issues, including feeding a growing global population amid shrinking resources such as water and agricultural land.”
For the first time this summer, the fellowship brought 500 young African professionals, ages 25 to 35, to the United States for academic study, leadership training, and last week’s historic U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit in Washington. From now through September, 100 of these fellows—a diverse group specially selected from the 49 sub-Saharan African nations—will complete eight-week follow-on internships. Dahir is one of these interns.
With over nine years of experience in social and community development, Dahir’s work in Kenya focuses on providing alternatives to economic livelihood and the rights of women and children in her community. She is the founder and executive director of Northern Organization of Social Empowerment. She is also pursuing a Master of Business Administration degree at University of Wales Institute, Cardiff. After completing the Washington Fellowship, she hopes to use the knowledge and contacts gained to advance her organization’s community-development programs. She said she hopes to transform her community from a nomadic-dependent culture to a more diversified culture.
“Being from a marginalized and arid area, poverty was a theme I grew up with,” Dahir said. “A key part of my vision is to help eradicate…poverty levels in northern Kenya.”
“The time is ripe for this type of investment on the continent of Africa,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “We are pleased with the initiative the president is taking to support development and partnership with the African nations—especially as we work to end hunger for good by 2030.”
The Mandela Washington Fellowship is a program of the U.S. government and is supported in its implementation by IREX, an international nonprofit with more than 45 years’ experience delivering exceptional education and training programs.