One of Zimbabwe’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) fellows, Abbigail Muleya, says she is happy that U.S President Barack Obama on Monday mentioned her name when he addressed 300 fellows attending a summit in Washington DC, who are participating in a six-week program, meant to empower emerging leaders.
Mr. Obama told the fellows on Monday that Abbigal travelled thousands of kilometers for an interview in Harare to be considered for the YALI fellowship.
Abbigail, who works for a non-governmental organization, ZUBO Trust, in the country’s remote Binga district, Matabeleland North province, says she was very excited when Obama noted that she is among aspiring young leaders, who are determined to transform their societies.
Abbigail says it is rare to be mentioned in any forum by a leader of Obama’s caliber and as a result, she believes that the American president has inspired her to do more work of empowering women in the district, who find it difficult to access basic necessities like sanitary pads, food and water.
The young African woman says she will work harder to transform the lives of Zimbabweans when she gets back to home.
She was among 1,000 Zimbabweans, who contested for 30 national YALI slots. At the same time, another fellow, Zandile Lambu, a computer scientist and banker, was praised by U.S Secretary of State, John Kerry, for her work in mobile technology and empowering young women.
Lambu, who currently works for the privately-owned mobile phone network, Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, as a mobile money app developer and other overlays, says she was also elated to be mentioned by one of president Obama’s top cabinet members. She says she is working to technologically empower young people and women.
Kerry said Zandile was a prime example of young people pushing for economic prosperity in their communities.
Lambu spent her time at an Ivy League institution, Yale University, during her 6-week fellowship, taking business and entrepreneurship courses.
Other YALI members include Emmanuel Ndlovu of the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association, who says the Obama magic will help him to rebuild Zimbabwe.
Another Zimbabwean YALI fellow, Sibusisiwe Bhebhe, believes that the sky is the limit for all YALI fellows and other young people worldwide.
The initiative is the brain child of President Obama. He has since renamed it the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.