2018 Mandela Washington Fellows

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HU Center for African Studies welcomes the 2018 Mandela Washington Fellows!

See photos of the 2018 Mandela Washington Fellows!

Meet the 2018 Mandela Washington Fellows:

Anita Benson

Country of Origin: Nigeria

Anita Oghenekome Benson has nine years’ experience as a medical doctor and currently works as a senior dermatology resident in the public sector. Skin lightening is a problem in her community, as women are encouraged to bleach their skin to fit within society’s ideals. She has personally been a victim of the prejudice associated with darker skin tones. 77% of Nigerians have been reported to engage in skin lightening practices, and most are unaware that these practices can predispose them to serious health conditions. Anita is changing public perception about dark skin while offering health education on the adverse effects of skin lightening and free dermatological services to those affected. She has been able to reach hundreds of people from various socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, raising awareness and halting the use of skin lightening agents. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she plans to encourage a bill that places restrictions on the over-the-counter sale of harmful skin lightening agents through advocacy and media campaigns. She also hopes to set up a skin rehabilitation clinic.

Arlene Amy Nea-Dey Barou

Country of Origin: Côte d’Ivoire

Amy Arlene Barou has over five years of experience in the agricultural sector. Currently, Amy is an agro-economist in charge of seeds research and development at the National Office for Rice Development, focusing on rice self-sufficiency in Côte d'Ivoire. She is also the national coordinator of an FAO-initiated rice farmers' empowerment project, and the ''gender focal point'' in the rice development sector where she advocates for gender equity. Amy holds a master’s degree in Agricultural Economics from the National Polytechnic Institute. She is driven by her commitment to rural development to empower rural communities. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she plans to improve her work in local agriculture promotion with a focus on women and youth.

Azeb Asaminew Alemu

Country of Origin: Ethiopia

Azeb Asaminew Alemu is a psychiatrist who has more than four years of experience treating patients with mental illness and teaching medical students. Currently, she works as an assistant professor of Psychiatry at Debre Markos University, where she teaches medical students and medical interns with the aim of bridging the mental health service gap in her country. As the only psychiatrist, she leads the psychiatry inpatient and outpatient units of Debre Markos Referral Hospital, which serves 3.5 million people. She monitors the quality of care provided in her unit by mentoring her team of nurses and has increased the number of staff, beds, and outpatient clinics. At a local radio station, she raises awareness about mental health in the community. She is committed to increasing the accessibility and quality of mental health care to disadvantaged populations in rural areas, with a focus on women and children. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Azeb plans to expand her service by building the capacity of local mental health workers and increasing the involvement of rural community leaders, social workers, psychologists, and legal aid providers. She also plans to conduct mental health research that can have a positive impact on the community.

Beza Emanuel

Country of Origin: Angola

Beza Emanuel is an Angolan Lawyer with over four years of experience in the legal field. Currently, he works as a senior officer at the legal department of the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Angola. He is responsible for providing legal advice to the ministry on public finances and administration, as well as contributing to the creation of laws and policies that promote efficient and sustainable public resources management. He is also the fire starter of Luanda chapter of The Hookup Dinner, an African community of entrepreneurs engaged in connecting with startup investors. Beza is completing a Master of Law in Oil and Gas at the Agostinho Neto University, where he is focusing on the new regulatory framework for the oil industry. Beza is committed to helping the government establish a new economic and financial paradigm that will allow for the development of a robust private sector capable of speeding national economic growth. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Beza plans to continue to serve the Ministry of Finance in leading a new public management paradigm in Angola.

Gabriella Gabriel Rwakibarila

Country of Origin: United Republic of Tanzania

Gabriella Rwakibarila is a professional in human resources management and project management with over six years’ working experience. She spent two of those years in the banking industry as a banker and occupation health and safety champion. Currently, Gabriella is an investigator for the Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau in Tanzania. She is in the Directorate of Community Education offering education to Tanzanian youth and employees in the public sector on their rights and obligations in fighting corruption in the country. Her long-term aspiration is to become a project manager and offer civic education to Tanzanian youth to instill self-reliance and a recognition that corrupt activities hinder development. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Gabriella plans to continue working to engage and motivate Tanzanian citizens to actively fight against corruption.

Gloire Mbaka

Country of Origin: Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

Gloire Mbaka Onya has over five years of experience in laboratory settings. The first two years of work experience were in a pharmaceutical laboratory, and he has spent the last two years working in a cement plant. In addition, he has had various internships and educational experiences. Currently, Gloire is a vice president for A.S. Nouvelle Vision, a youth soccer team catering to 58 boys in his area. Gloire holds a Bachelor of Science in Biomedicine from the Midrand Graduate Institute in South Africa, where he majored in Analytical and Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmacology, and other advanced medical subjects. In addition, he holds a professional certificate of competence in Project Management and MS projects from the Institut National de Préparation Professionnelle in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Gloire is driven by his commitment to fighting juvenile delinquency by focusing on youth mentorship. One day, he hopes to witness development and transformation in his nation led by youth. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Gloire plans to continue curbing juvenile delinquency and preventing HIV/AIDS by working on youth development activities and mentorship with his youth soccer team.

Harold Arthur Ulysse Podanho

Country of Origin: Benin

Harold Podanho has over ten years of experience in public management, especially in public finance and accounting. Currently, Harold is the head of the administration and finance departments of the High Court of Justice. The High Court is concerned with judicial matters related to the President of the Republic and members of the government, such as high treason, contempt towards the National Assembly, attack on honor and probity, conspiracy against state security, and offenses committed during the exercise of government functions. Harold holds a master’s degree in Public Finance and Accounting. He is driven by his commitment to serve his community and his country. Harold aspires to become an expert in public affairs management, especially public accounting, to contribute to the development of his country. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Harold is planning to write a comparative memo on public management in the United States of America and Benin, proposing efficient and effective practices for ongoing reforms in Benin.

Imelda Livia Suzie Mbock

Country of Origin: Cameroon

Imelda Mbock has over two years of experience as a general practitioner focusing on children and women's health and education. Currently, Imelda is head of the family planning unit of the government hospital where she works. Her job comprises designing, initiating, and implementing activities related to women and child health in her locality. Imelda is a medical adviser to the NGO, ONG CASA, which cares for orphans, street children, and the elderly. Imelda holds a medical degree from the University of Buea in Cameroon and is currently pursuing a master's degree in International Relations at the International Relations Institute of Cameroon. Imelda is committed to improving the health in her community and hopes to improve health care availability to women and children. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Imelda plans to help shape the health sector of her country and shine a positive light on her country, which has untapped potential.

Isaac Rutagwenda Rugamba

Country of Origin: Rwanda

Isaac Rugamba is a Rwandan civil servant with a keen interest in international development. For the past two years, Isaac has worked on donor coordination in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning’s External Finance Division. Isaac sees his role as looking for innovative ways to finance Rwanda's development agenda, steering Rwanda away from foreign aid and towards self-sustainability. Isaac is also a global shaper with the Kigali Hub, a community that is championing the Visa Free Africa campaign, which aligns with his Pan-African values. Isaac holds a bachelor’s degree in Social Work, with majors in Public Policy and International Relations, from the University of Cape Town.

Jaleela Hassennally

Country of Origin: Mauritius

Jaleela Hassennally is a journalist and radio presenter. As a member of several NGOs, she is an active social worker and involved with various social issues such as bullying, corruption, amphibian and rhinoceros preservation, cancer awareness, and community building. She is also an ambassador of the Special Olympics in Mauritius, advocating for youth athletes and athletes living with intellectual disabilities. Jaleela holds a bachelor’s degree with honors in Computer Applications and Higher National Diploma in Business. She is a former boxing champion and beauty pageant titleholder. In 2017, she was recognized as a role model for youth by the mayor of her hometown. She was also chosen as one of the 100 Most Influential Women in Mauritius.

James Awenati Amugsi

Country of Origin: Ghana

James Awenati Amugsi is an award-winning senior staff nurse at the Builsa District Hospital. He has over five years’ experience in nursing, youth mentorship, and community volunteering. He focuses on patient education, unit management, staff supervision, and nurse prescriber duties. He also volunteers as a diabetes educator and a weekly radio panelist on You and Your Health, a health program that he and his colleagues founded in 2011. James is self-motivated and committed to personal and professional development. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, he plans to continue working on health education campaigns, expand specialist health care to rural populations, provide youth career guidance, train graduates on skills acquisition, and encourage and support equal access to higher education through mentorship and scholarship packages.

Jayne Chelsea Bango

Country of Origin: Republic of Congo

Jayne Chelsea Bango is a medical doctor who graduated in 2016 from Chongqing Medical University in China. Born in the Republic of Congo, Chelsea has been volunteering as a general doctor in both public and private sectors, assisting in hospitals in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo, and Accra, Ghana. By practicing medicine, she was exposed to the problems facing youth in her community. She realized that youth were not future conscious and were losing hope for a better tomorrow. This reality became her core motivation as she applied her knowledge of diagnostics to investigate the root cause, tackle the problem, and create solutions. Chelsea has gone out of her comfort zone, reaching out to young people of different backgrounds, getting involved in their lives, and helping in any way she can. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she aims to establish a structure that would focus on solving problems and issues facing youth in her community to prepare them for a better future.

Jessie Nicolas Kada

Country of Origin: Central African Republic

Jesse Nicolas Kada is currently working with the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) as a translator. He also volunteers as the secretary-general in charge of gender and human rights for PARETO, an NGO. PARETO uses media and community approaches to improve the lives of vulnerable populations. Jesse is part of a team that successfully implemented a community-based protection program, which trained and mentored community reporters to work with vulnerable populations, including girls, to support their dreams of one day going to school. He aims to work with PARETO to reduce gender-based violence and increase the enrollment of girls in the school in the Central African Republic.

Joël Roamba

Country of Origin: Burkina Faso

Joël Roamba is a rural engineering professional with over three years of experiences in water and sanitation. He holds a master’s degree in Water and Environmental Engineering from 2IE. Since 2017, he has worked for civil service at the Eastern Region Water and Sanitation Department. He is an activist for the promotion of good behaviors in Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for people in rural regions. He is strongly engaged in sustainable land management and environment and is actively supporting his native village by reforesting the land in the community each year. Currently, Joël is the Water and Sanitation Provincial Director of Gnagna, one of the five Provinces of Eastern Region. Joël has actively advocated for water and sanitation for all and he is one of the youngest Provincial Directors of his ministry. Soon he plans to implement a project which aims to manage solid household waste in Burkina Faso’s secondary cities.

Kou Dut Kou Dut Kou

Country of Origin: South Sudan

Kou Dut Kou Dut Kou is an educator with over three years of experience in education and public service. Currently, Kou is a teaching assistant at Dr. John Garang University, where he also supervises research projects. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Kenya Methodist University. Since he can remember, Kou has battled challenging circumstances with great success. Based on his experiences with struggle, he sees education as a weapon of change. Education can change a country in the same way it can change an individual. With education, Kou is positively changing the hearts and minds of cattle-keepers, orphans, street children, criminals, beggars, unknown gunmen, and the poor in South Sudan. He is inspiring people to learn, not to fight; to hold pens, not guns; to embrace peace, unity, and development. Kou is also improving the capacity of public officials in the areas of accountability, financial management, law-enforcement, and conflict-resolution. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Kou plans to continue providing access to education by building more schools. He also hopes to develop initiatives that will spearhead the political, economic, and social transformation of South Sudan and Africa.

Luthando Jama

Country of Origin: South Africa

Luthando Jama is a dentist and studied dentistry at the University of Pretoria. In 2018, Luthando took a sabbatical from full-time employment to pursue her studies. She is currently pursuing a Master of Business Administration at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), the top-ranked South African and African business school by South African Financial Mail. She holds a post-graduate diploma in Business Administration from GBIS. Studying business will allow her to fulfill her dreams of making oral health accessible in rural communities via mobile dental clinics. This dream was sparked by her experience in a rural public hospital in the Free State. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Luthando will apply her acquired skills, knowledge, and network to reflect on how to improve the public health sector in South Africa.

Ndeye Coumba Diouf

Country of Origin: Senegal

Ndeye Coumba Diouf has over three years’ experience in gender empowerment through education and information technology (IT) development projects. Ndeye works as a business analyst at a Senegalese IT company that focuses on making administrative procedures paperless. She conducts studies on the digitalization of administrative procedures, coordinating and monitoring the quality of deliverables until the solution is implemented. She volunteers as a training lead for Jigeen Tech, a Senegalese IT hub committed to training and mentoring girls and women in IT tools and encouraging STEM fields careers. She holds a Master of Business Administration in Project Management and an engineering degree in Telecommunications and Technical Sales, in addition to certificates in Gender Equality, Procurement, and Project Management. She is committed to improving public management through efficiency and integrating gender. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Ndeye will continue to strengthen women’s education and autonomy through IT and leadership within her association. She also aspires to improve the delivery of public services in Senegal.

Ndeye Seynabou Sarr

Country of Origin: Senegal

Ndeye Seynabou Sarr is a statistician with five years of experience in social, demographic, and economic statistics. She is currently a statistician at the National Agency of Statistics and Demography of Senegal. In 2013, she was part of the team of young statisticians selected by the United Nations Population Fund to observe the Senegalese population census and develop a methodological report on data collection using information communication technology for other African countries. For the last four years, she has also been a fashion entrepreneur, creating clothes and exporting them across the sub-region under the brand, Madiouf. She has an engineering degree from ENSAE Senegal. Seynabou strongly believes in the importance of children’s education. As such, she volunteers with ASCOTAL, an association providing education to vulnerable children and working to better the quality of education in schools located in poor neighborhoods.

Robson Maamba

Country of Origin: Zambia

Robson Maamba Jr. has six years’ experience in the education sector, specifically in information management. He is an assistant librarian at Rusangu University, where he is responsible for information gathering, processing, preservation, and dissemination. He is also responsible for ensuring that faculty, staff, and students have access to enriching information. During his spare time, Robson is engaged in community volunteer activities, especially concerning underprivileged children, youth, and women, in an attempt to achieve his long-term goal of bridging the information gap between the urban and rural communities. He strongly believes that a community with access to valuable information can make well-informed decisions to spur economic growth. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Robson hopes to increase his mentoring efforts and continue improving access to social, economic, health, civic and human rights, governance, and community development information, particularly in rural communities. He also aspires to run for public office as executive mayor and establish an information literacy center to empower children, youth, and women.

Roland S. Kamara

Country of Origin: Liberia

Technical College (formerly known as the NetLib Vocational Training Institute), a partner institution of Roc Van Twente, a Dutch-based training college. NetLib College has empowered over one thousand young people through technical education. Roland is responsible for the overall institutional management, personnel development, management, and supervision, and the day-to-day operations of the institution. He is a student of public policy, holding advanced diplomas in Peace and Conflict Resolution and Journalism. He gained a wealth of experience working as a National United Nations Volunteer (UNV). As a UNV, he helped to formulate the Liberia Volunteer Coordinating Committee for Development (LVCC4D), a policy document aimed at structuring, strengthening and facilitating all volunteer organizations in the country. He is committed to seeing a society of empowered youth. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Roland intends to decentralize and expand his program to other parts of the country, reaching at-risk youth. By doing so, Roland intends to empower more youth through technical skills training, encouraging sustainable livelihoods and national economic growth.

Sabelo Comfort Mlangeni

Country of Origin: Swaziland

Sabelo Mlangeni has over five years of experience as an educator and leader. Currently, Sabelo is a teacher at St. John Bosco High School, where he focuses on technical skills and life skills development for students pursuing technical careers. Sabelo acts as the union representative in his school. He also volunteers at the Zakhele church of the Nazarene, where he is a teacher and coordinator of youth leadership and bible sessions for the community members. Sabelo holds a diploma in Education from the University of Swaziland. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, he plans to advance his teaching career and volunteer work by training leaders in different areas of his country, empowering more women in the process.

Salma Khair

Country of Origin: Country

Salma Khair has over five years’ experience in information technology. Currently, Salma is an enterprise application operation team leader at Zain Sudan. Salma holds a master’s degree in Computer Science. She is committed to addressing and finding solutions to the knowledge management issue in Sudan. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Salma plans to use her acquired skills to continue working on knowledge management issues and finding solutions.

Theesan Ananda Vedan

Country of Origin: South Africa

Theesan Vedan qualified as a dentist at the University of the Western Cape in 2012. He went on to graduate from the South African Field Epidemiology Training Programme in 2017. Theesan has with private practices, the military, universities, and the Department of Health. He has a keen interest in supporting the public health sector in South Africa. During the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Theesan hopes to further his knowledge on strategies to strengthen his capacity in public management.

Tlotliso Bernard Makoetlane

Country of Origin: Lesotho

Tlotliso Bernard Makoetlane has eight years’ experience in elected offices. He was the interim minister of finance and the minister of sport for the student representative committee at the National University of Lesotho. Tlotliso was also elected as the president of the Constituency Youth League of the Lesotho Congress for Democracy and Democratic Congress. He served as secretary general for the Public Administration and Political Science Association at his university. Additionally, Tlotliso has worked at Tsenolo FM, the local radio station, as a political analyst on the Fika-le-mohala radio program. Tlotliso has a degree in Public Administration and Political Science from the National University of Lesotho. Tlotliso is currently working as an assistant administrative officer at the Semonkong Urban Council in the rural area of Maseru. He actively collaborates with NGOs, like JAPIEGO, to fight against HIV/AIDS. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, he aims to further his studies and pursue a position of influence in decision-making.

Tshinde Isabel Matos

Country of Origin: Mozambique

Tshinde Isabel Matos has one year of experience in the community development sector. In 2017, she worked with NGOs on promoting sustainable nutrition through a large-scale food security project in Mozambique. Currently, Tshinde Matos is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa, where she also works in data collection and laboratory analysis to support research on the development and deployment of alternative water sources for urban and rural communities. Tshinde is driven by her strong commitment to promoting sustainable development in Mozambique and is passionate about translating science into innovative new opportunities for society. She also strives to empower young individuals, especially women, by elevating educational standards in rural areas, enriching communities and creating a bright social, political, and economic future through science and entrepreneurship.