By Taddeo Bwambale
KAMPALA - Nineteen Ugandan youth will next month travel to the US for a six-week fellowship under the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI).
The fellowship offers youth aged between 25 and 35 years the opportunity to gain skills at a US university and get professional development when they return to their home countries.
YALI was initiated by President Barack Obama in 2010 to empower young African leaders through academic training, leadership mentoring and networking.
The fellowship is for youth with demonstrated leadership in business and entrepreneurship, civil leadership institutes or public management institutes.
Fellows will participate in a six-week academic programme at a US university. Some fellows may choose to remain in the US for another eight weeks after their university programme to participate in internships in the US.
During a pre-departure reception held at his residence in Kampala, the US Ambassador, Scott DeLisi advised the fellows to become agents of change.
“I know that there are those who see youth as something to worry about; who murmur about Arab springs in dark tones and who see your numbers, your energy and your vision as a threat. I do not. I know that you seek to channel your energy constructively,” he said.
Ambassador Scott DeLisi mingles with YALI Fellows George Mugenyi (right), Rashid Raganyi, Jamilah Mayanja and Nulu Naluyombya (left) at the reception. PHOTO/Enock Kakande
The envoy urged the fellows to focus on creating a new model of service, engagement and leadership in Uganda, in spite of the challenges they face.
“I hope that you will stay focused, that you will rise above the constant temptation of corruption, that you will have the courage to take the risks necessary for success, and that you will use your talents to lead others in a way that lifts them up and encourages them to build their own future,” he advised.
He also advised the fellows use the experience and connections from the fellowship to intensify their efforts to improve Uganda.
Belinda Okumu Ringa, one of the fellows said she would use the opportunity to improve her project on free consultations with doctors and pharmacies through the mobile phone.
Among highly regarded fellows is Shukri Islow, who conducts cultural awareness classes to UPDF soldiers heading to Somalia to fight al-Shabaab. Martin Mugabi empowers Karimojong women by employing them to grow cassava and grains on 500 acres of land.
Irene Ikomu, another fellow monitors issues in Parliament and shares the information through various online platforms as a way to promote transparency and accountability.
The fellows will also have an opportunity to meet President Obama, leaders from the public, private, NGO sectors, as well as interact with one another.
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