YALI 2017 participants donate to children’s shelter

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Staff Reporter

Windhoek-The Mammadu Shelter in Katutura’s Otjomuise residential area in Windhoek today receives a donation from participants of the 2017 Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF), also known as the Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI).

The participants are making the donation to launch the #YALIServes campaign before they depart for their six-week training programme in the United States.  The campaign champions the importance of volunteerism, community service and servant leadership development.

The main goal of this campaign is to organise a continent-wide YALI community service day in celebration of Mandela Day on July 18.

The fellows will kick-start the campaign by donating collected items to a children’s home in Namibia.  In addition, they will be planting a tree as part of their efforts to promote and encourage tree planting throughout the country. As part of the U.S. Embassy’s reading programme, fellows will be donating books to the charity.

Launched in 2014, MWF is the flagship programme of President Barack Obama’s Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI), which brings together 1,000 young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa to the United States and empowers them through leadership training, academic coursework, and networking.

The young leaders will spend six weeks at top U.S. colleges or universities that will take them through an intensive programme in one of three tracks: Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, and Public Management.  The fellowship also provides support for professional development and mentoring after participants return home.

At the same occasion, the U.S. Embassy hosted a pre-departure orientation for all participants. The orientation presented an overview of the YALI program, answered participant questions and offered insight into the available opportunities for future engagement.

The Mammadu Shelter hosts children who otherwise live in a situation of abandonment and deprivation and children of destitute parents who may also be HIV patients or have issue with alcohol abuse.  It provides a welcoming place where children receive food, can study and play safely – sheltered from outside dangers.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services uses facilities at the shelter for the administration of vaccines to the local community and other welfare activities.  The children they support live in Otjomuise, where there are slums made of tiny sheet-metal constructions with no running water, toilets and electricity.

Their accommodations are extremely hot in summer and cold in winter.  Because of poverty and social exclusion these children are at high risk of abandonment and may end up in orphanages.

Due to the fact that the U.S. Embassy provides them daily with water, meals, educational assistance, and protected areas for play and sport, they can keep living with their families.

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