I stumbled upon a link through the American Embassy Kampala page in 2013 which was encouraging young emerging leaders in Business, Civil society and Public management to apply for the Mandela Washington Fellowship for young African Leaders https://youngafricanleaders.state.gov/washington-fellowship/apply/ I was a little skeptical about my chances which I guess contributed to why I did not grab the chance then. I bookmarked the page only to get back to it a little too late. Well I subscribed knowing that the following year could be another chance. I had always dreamed of chances where I could meet up with people who sacrifice on a daily basis with limited resources yet with big dreams. I considered it a better chance that would give Africa a new face as opposed to the failed strategy of pouring out endless aid that contributes to a mindset of expectation and self entitlement. This beautiful, iconic and diverse continent is awash with potential waiting to be empowered to manage the unquestionable amounts of resources it possesses.
Turns out, I wasn't wrong, this year I was privileged to be apart of an amazing group of young emerging leaders whose achievements in community regardless of which track is unbelievable. It was a moment where iron was sharpening iron. It was a moment to be alive and evaluate the many options regarding resources, knowledge and networks.
If you feel like those dreams you always share are far fetched based on the circumstances, that you cannot possibly achieve the vision that burns so clearly in your heart.It is time to consider applying for this program. It is the best and most fulfilling time out I have ever got in my life. I had come to a point in my life where I couldn't confidently talk about what I want to achieve regarding my Vision. Now am equipped with an experience that has breathed life and hope into what am born to do.
I learned the value of team work and collaboration, and how Americans take seriously the spirit of volunteerism. Yes I learned so much from the leadership sessions, site visits companies like King Author still in existence after hundreds of years,Timberland the iconic shoe company to mention but a few. The biggest lesson though was out of class at the Dartmouth College Campus. Most times I was about to walk into the library, Cafeteria or any main building at the college campus, and there was a student or administrator about to walk in before me, they would ensure I walk in first by opening the door and waiting till i did so. At first i thought it was only reserved for the fellows in town as we were referred to. But it was a culture that was clearly existing at this prestigious IV League establishment. A habit that is essential for the development of our communities.We have to give a chance to emerging generations by leaving that door open for growth and opportunity. Am doing exactly that, the door is open walk in and become a 2016 Mandela Washington Fellow for young African Leaders.
I call upon you all that are sacrificing your time and resources for the benefit of community. Innovators with big dreams to change lives. Social entrepreneurs. Follow this link https://youngafricanleaders.state.gov/washington-fellowship/apply/