International Youth Day 2017: Mandela Washington Fellow encourage youth to adopt community development

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Young leader speaks on community development as instrument of peace

1.8 billion young people aged 10 – 24 currently make up the entire population of the world. This is the largest youth population ever recorded according to the United Nations. With a population of 200 million aged between 15 and 24, Africa has the youngest population in the world.

It is therefore a very important time to celebrate young people and the roles they are playing in driving economic development, harnessing demographic dividends and changing narratives across various climes.

To mark this year’s International Youth Day, the 2017 cohort of Nelson Mandela Washington fellows across Nigeria organized events in various locations to network, mentor, share experience and knowledge from their recently completed fellowship in the United States.

The international youth day is marked on 8th of August every year by the United Nations to promote national action and international support to improve the situation of young people. The theme for this year was “Youth Building Peace”.

Mr. Chibuike Alagboso, one of the fellows spoke to over 90 participants at the Federal Polytechnic, Nekede on the need for adopting volunteerism and other community development activities to promote peace in communities and the country at large.

According to him, involving in community development efforts helps to co-create indigenous solutions to local problems which in turn makes participants stakeholders in their communities. As stakeholders, they are motivated to encourage peaceful co-existence for sustainance of their efforts and legacies.

He also shared how his community development efforts provided him with platforms to access more capacity development opportunities including the Nelson Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

“My community development and volunteer activities provided me compelling stories to share during my application and it gave me this opportunity to further develop my capacity as a leader”, he said.

He shared some major takeaways from the experience during the mentoring and coaching session. According to him, a strong sense of community, volunteering, and patriotism were some of the characteristics that stood out among people he interacted with during the fellowship. A strong commitment to service, excellence, humility and proactiveness was constantly exhibited by the staff of his host institution and members of the community.

In his remarks, the convener of the event and founder of Noble Achievers Foundation, Mr. Zack Uche said it is important to improve the quantity and quality of opportunities available to young people for full, effective and constructive participation in society.

The Nelson Mandela Washington Fellowship is one of the programs of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). An initiative of former US president, Barak Obama, it started in 2014 with the goal of strengthening ties between the United States and Africa by bringing young leaders from sub Saharan Africa to the US for a six weeks intensive academic training on leadership with focus on three tracks viz – Business and Entrepreneurship, Civic Leadership and Public Management.

On completion of the fellowship, the young leaders return to their countries and continue their work to impact their communities.

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