Thank you for coming to this reception to celebrate the return of twenty-four of our twenty-six Mandela Washington Fellows! Two Fellows remain in the US on internships.
President Obama launched YALI in 2010 to support young African leaders as they spur growth and prosperity, strengthen democracy, and enhance peace and security across Africa. The Mandela Washington Fellowship began in 2014 and brought 500 young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa to the United States. This Fellowship has become the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative.
These Mandela Washington Fellows participated in six week academic and leadership programs hosted by top U.S. universities. Our Batswana Fellows were scattered across the U.S. at universities like the University of Minnesota, Drake University in Iowa, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the University of Wisconsin.
Fellows networked with leaders in the U.S. government, civil society, and private sector. Following the academic program, Fellows traveled to Washington D.C. for a three-day Summit hosted by President Obama. I am sure this was quite an experience!
These Fellows inspire us with their commitment to addressing issues critical to Botswana’s future development, including combating gender based violence, promoting conservation, eradicating HIV/AIDS, and more. We look forward to watching them mobilize other Batswana with the leadership skills that they honed through the Fellowship’s workshops in order to solve the issues that impassion them.
The U.S. government is committed to helping the Fellows accomplish what they strive to achieve. We work with businesses, Botswana’s government, and various NGOs to create professional opportunities and find resources to support these young leaders. By helping Fellows find internships, mentors, funding, and networks of interested and relevant stakeholders, we will ensure that they receive the support that they need. We hope that these opportunities will allow the Fellows to make significant inroads in bettering the lives of Batswana.
We at the U.S. Embassy feel privileged to be working with these twenty-six Fellows. We are inspired by their motivation, creativity, and vision for Botswana. Past YALI participants have already significantly impacted diverse groups of Batswana and we look forward to seeing what the Fellows will accomplish together in the future.