Thursday, June 5, 2014

“Going to harvest in the US to plant in Cameroon"-YALI Fellows

Yaounde, Cameroon—After a pre-departure orientation meeting in Yaounde recently, Cameroon YALI (President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative) finalists have again converged on the nation’s capital to meet with semi-finalists, other unsuccessful applicants and the public at large.
The encounter will hold at the conference hall of the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Civic Education and will feature experience-sharing by finalists, presentation of other opportunities in the US and an exchange on salient issues affecting the Cameroonian youth.
Fellows Pose with Gregory Thome, US Embassy Chargé d’Affaires (C.I.N)
Four of the twelve fellows selected from Cameroon were today on the CRTV morning talk- show program, morning safari.
Talking on phone, Gladys Viban of the US embassy in Yaounde and YALI 2014  fellow said the initiative is to groom future African leaders at a time most African countries just celebrated 50th anniversary of independence.
In Cameroon, over 2000 youths applied to take part in the YALI program, 80 were shortlisted and 12 were eventually selected who to represent the country.
“We met a lot of many outstanding Cameroonians who would have qualified, but we could not take all. But those who applied will still form a network back home where there will be sharing ideas”, Yaah Viban said.
One of the fellows, community activist, founder and director of the Bamenda-based NGO; Hope for the Needy Association (HOFNA) Cameroon, Chongwain Christelle Bay said Cameroonian youths should shun questioning what Cameroon has done for them. She urged that youths should ask what they have done for Cameroon.
“In that way you will start doing something in your own way that will create great impact”, Chongwain advised.
According to her, youths have to stand up and start doing something.
“If you don’t say I am here, no one will know you are there, so they have to start doing something, even if it means just planting one pawpaw tree somewhere, don’t say it is small”, Chongwain said.
Questioned whether they will return to Cameroon after the six weeks stay in the US, HOFNA director explained that “when you have love for your country, brethren and humanity, you want to serve humanity and you’ve already been doing something like this, you wouldn’t want to go stay in America and let it go. You will want to come back to your base so that you make your impact properly felt”.
In the Northwest region that has two of the twelve YALI fellows, Chongwain Christelle and Hilda Bih have since their selection been organizing radio talks to sensitize the population on the YALI program and also meeting with other interested youths who applied but were not selected.
“We had to meet with them to start forming the YALI network, which is made up of other young people with whom we are going to be working when we come back”.
“We did a radio program with Hilda; ‘Women on the Move’ through which we sensitized women on the program”, Grace one of the fellows added.
Christelle and Hilda in a meeting with unsuccessful Applicants 

The twelve Fellows were selected for participation in one of three designated tracks: Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership, and Public Management.
The president of the Cameroon National Youth Council (CNYC), Jean Mark Afesy Mbafor said he is going to the US to benefit mainly capacity building.
 “I will be doing civic leadership, and America is far advanced in that domain. I know I will tap a lot that will that will be useful for me as the president of the Cameroon National Youth Council”, Mbafor said.
An entrepreneur, Mbafor says he chose the civic leadership not business oriented track because he needs to build his leadership capacities to lead Cameroon youths.
According to Gerald Afadani, another fellow from Tiko, upon return, they will mainly focus on dissemination of information from the YALI program and mentoring other youths.
During their stay in the USA, the fellow will have a three days summit with the US president, Barack Obama.
“We want to know what young Cameroonians would tell President Obama in 35 seconds, which is why we are inviting all of them to the town hall conference at the ministry of youth affairs this afternoon”, Christelle said.
Below is a list of  2014 YALI Fellows from Cameroon
1. Charlie Wandji, Business and Entrepreneurship, Yale University
2. Regina Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo, Civic Leadership, University of Delaware
3. Christelle Chongwain, Civic Leadership, Tulane University
4. Rose Marie Kouo, Public Management, Morgan State
5. Brice Stève Sime, Business and Entrepreneurship, Clark Atlanta University
6. Muluh Hilda Bih, Civic Leadership, UC Berkeley
7. Gerald Afadani, Public Management, Howard University
8. Kizita Forgwe, Civic Leadership, Arizona State University
9. Jean Marc Mbafor, Civic Leadership, University of Virginia
10. Violet Fokum, Public Management, University of Arkansas
11. Micheal Tchenga, Public Management, University of Arkansas
12. Roland Bonko, Business and Entrepreneurship, Northwestern University
By Ndi Eugene Ndi in Yaounde

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