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Mandela Washington Fellows Planning to Transform Many Lives

President Barack Obama addressing Mandela Washington fellows in Washington DC.

President Barack Obama addressing Mandela Washington fellows in Washington DC.

The 2016 Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, a brainchild of U.s President Barack Obama, wrapped up a few days ago with some fellows getting grants for kicking off and boosting various projects.

It was a time for the fellows, including most Zimbabweans, to go back to their respective nations with a few remaining in the U.S for six-week internships in some companies.

The fellows last Thursday hugged, cried together and bid each other farewell hoping to use all the knowledge acquired in America to develop their nations through engaging in formidable projects.

One of the fellows, Kudzai Sakajena who is a success coach and works with universities and colleges in Zimbabwe, was very happy about getting a USADF grant.

She is planning to start a creative innovation hub for girls and women to become more tech savvy.

''I will go to high schools and maybe government schools and teach them opportunities and enterprise."

Another Mandela Washington fellow, Tafadzwa Mukondo, who has a distributing company for her parenting magazine, said she was encouraged by President Barack Obama’s remarks to do well in life.

Rape and Gender Based Violence human rights lawyer, TariroTandi, added that she is committed in making some positive change in her community following the completion of the YALI program and after being inspired by Mr. Obama.

"One of the greatest lessons learnt is when President Barack Obama said, ‘it’s not what you are going to be but what you are going to do that matters in life’. That came at the right time in my life where I was reflecting and saying ‘do I still have a life and career with what is going on in Zimbabwe’."

Patrick Miller, who was placed at Kansas State University for the six-week program which ensures that fellows are imparted with relevant tertiary education skills, said he is determined to fully utilize arts as a tool to transform the lives of many people in Zimbabwe.

"I am going stay in my field to be able to do the civic engagement from what I got here, which I think it’s really relevant for my context in Zimbabwe and that is to create artists who are not only entertainers but artists who are leaders, artists who have opinions, artists who want to give back to their communities not just be on stage and make people have a good time.”

He agreed with President Obama’s remarks that people have solutions to their problems.