Facebook Pixel

2015 Fellows

Fellow Biographies


Monametsi Sokwe, Botswana
Monametsi Sokwe has spent more than eight years working at different levels of socio-economic development. His career started in monitoring and evaluation, which he crafted with studies in Botswana, Thailand and Mauritius, and he represented his country at the SADC Regional M&E Technical Working Group. We worked at Tebelopele Volunteering and Counselling Centre as the head of the M&E Unit, leading the country’s biggest VCT database. He is currently the executive director of Ngamiland Council Of NGOs (NCONGO), which is considered a model NGO in Botswana and the only district coalition in the country, leading in community-lead innovation. It has touched many lives through training, advocacy, and infrastructural development and has partnered with organizations in Croatia, Italy, Bulgaria, South Africa and others to implement projects. Sokwe also doubles as the managing director of African Van and Car Rental, a start up company specializing in top of the range vehicle rentals. Sokwe holds a BA in Economics and Public Administration from the University of Botswana.  He has received management training from University of Derby, England and recently has participated in trainings on governance, leadership and management.


Elsa Ouali, Burkina Faso
Elsa Ouali has worked in civic leadership for a year and represents Burkina Faso in the World Youth Parliament for Water, where she works on water and sanitation related issues through advocacy, sensitizing, communication, networking, and local projects. She is involved in REJEDD, a youth network for water, sanitation, environmental, and sustainable development, and works with the FLA organization for better access for girls’ to scientific studies, and women’s rights in general. Elsa has experience in team work and groups’ monitoring, the use of media and communication tools, project building, and management. Back home after the Fellowship, Elsa intends to continue her civic commitment and to create her own organization focused on water, sanitation, and renewable energy. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Water and Environment Engineering and a Master’s degree in Electrical and Renewable Energy (with a focus on thermal storage systems, for concentrating solar power plants).


Salim Ismael Sim, Comoros
Salim Ismael Sim founded the Yes We Can association, to promote the English language and conserve the environment in Comoros. He has successfully created chapters in different communities to help villages learn English for free in order to access work and study opportunities. He serves as the coordinator for American Corner which connects the University of Comoros and US Embassy, and organizes celebratory events for Nelson Mandela month in partnership with the South African Embassy. He successfully led a book donation project, Book For Africa designed by the Comorian students. Salim is skilled in community relations, outreach, environmental preservation, and public and private partnership, and upon completion of the fellowship plans to take his promotion of the English language and environment conservation to other islands. He holds a degree in Applied Foreign Languages from the University of Comoros, and received management training from the US Embassy, and in Ethiopia and Madagascar.


Hermella Wondimu, Ethiopia
Hermella Wondimu has spent five years working with rural communities in Ethiopia focused on the provision of clean water and promotion of hygiene and sanitation. She is currently the general manager of Drop Of Water, the NGO she co-founded as a university student, and believes it is the honor and moral obligation of all university students to stand for the betterment of their community. Demonstrating the power of grass root volunteerism, Drop Of Water has provided clean water access to tens of thousands of rural communities in Ethiopia. Through people working together, she believes the water crisis can be ended, and upon completion of the Fellowship plans to continue her work with volunteers with a focus on community leadership and fundraising. Hermella has a degree in civil engineering from Mekelle University, and has completed training certifications on emergency water and sanitation and water safety plans.


Manyima Bojang, Gambia
Manyima Bojang is legal manager for the Gambia Revenue Authority where she provides expert advice on revenue laws and court representation. She was a magistrate and chairperson of the children's court and is the assistant secretary for the Female Lawyers Association to advocate for rights of women and children. As president of her village youth association, she volunteers in advocacy, community and youth development. Her long-term goal is to set up a local NGO to advocate for the rights of women and children. Her short-term goal is to find a scholarship to do her Master's degree in the area of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she plans to continue advocating for human rights and to train youths in local skills. She holds a Bachelor in Law degree from the University of the Gambia and Barrister in Law from the Gambia Law School. 


Alfred Adjabeng, Ghana
Alfred Godwin Adjabeng is the founder and executive director of Reach Out to Future Leaders Movement (ROFLM), a youth-led community-based development organization that focuses on food security, education, and environmental sustainability. He serves as the coordinator of ROFLM’s flagship project, Ghana School Farms Project which is a sustainable initiative that recognizes the link between education and nutrition and is employing community-based solutions to improve access to both. The project partners with schools and local stakeholders to develop community-driven farms that offer experiential learning and technical training opportunities to youth, while also ensuring an available food supply to keep schools open and able to provide meals throughout the school year. Alfred hopes to meet a network of young leaders and change agents to seek collaboration, share ideas and seek helpful feedback to help him effectively impact more vulnerable communities in Ghana. Mr. Adjabeng has received youth media and advocacy training and is studying for a BS in Environmental Science from University of Cape Coast, Ghana.


Asha Shaaban, Kenya
Asha Shaaban is an environmentalist with over four years’ experience in environmental management and advocacy, community training and mobilization, policy tracking, and analysis. She is currently in charge of the Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) advocacy in a program that is being undertaken in Athi Basin, Kenya. She's built the capacity of over 10,000 community members to ensure social equity and environmental sustainability. She has also trained in Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM), gender and climate change, soil and water management, monitoring and evaluation, advocacy and environmental management from Wageningen University, Netherlands, Cap Net and University of Queensland, Australia. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Asha plans to advocate for democratic participation in environmental management for improved livelihoods. She holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree from the University of Nairobi and is a Master's student in Environmental Planning and Management, as well as being a registered Environmental Impact Assessment expert.


Waithera Jane Wairimu, Kenya
Jane Waithera Wairimu has over five years’ experience in various fields of the disability and leadership sector, particularly in Albinism advocacy. She is currently the co-founder for Positive Exposure, Kenya, an education and advocacy NGO where she focuses on advocacy and public awareness, economic empowerment, and education. She also runs a mentorship program, Pearls Project which is an educational tool that invites students to learn about their peers living with differences. She studied at the International Institute of Social Entrepreneurship in Trivandrum, India. Born with albinism herself, Waithera believes that people with special needs have leadership qualities that can be of great benefits to their countries. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Waithera plans to continue her work in disability-advocacy and focus more on the mentorship program through the Pearls Project. Waithera is currently enrolled at St. Paul’s University, Kenya, studying for a BA in Leadership and Management.


Ruth Engmann, Liberia
Ruth Cleopatra Engmann trained as a social worker and has over seven years’ working experience. She is currently serving as a United Nations volunteer supporting the UNV program office in Liberia. She supervises over 30 other volunteers working on the Ebola Project in various communities and previously served as an intern with Save the Children International, providing support to the district field supervisors. She aspires to advocate for marginalized women and girls who have experienced abuse at some time in their life and founded the Girl Mother Empowerment Network (GMEN), an organization that seeks to improve the wellbeing of females within society. Ruth has very good interpersonal communication skills as well as basic knowledge of Microsoft Office Suite. She holds a BSW in Social Work from Stella Maris Polytechnic and a BA degree in sociology from the University of Liberia.


Rally Tamba Fallah, Liberia
Mr. Rally T. Fallah is a visually impaired Junior Student at the United Methodist University studying Public Administration and Mass Communication in Liberia. He currently serves as a public relations officer for the Liberia chapter of the African Youth with Disabilities Network and is vice president of the youth wing for the Christian Association of the Blind in Liberia. Mr. Fallah is trained as a Youth Activist in organization recruitment, conflict resolution, effective communication and leadership sponsored by the African Union of the Blind head office in Nairobi Kenya.

Additionally, Mr. Fallah is a student at Inter Digital Computer School in Liberia and run his own local organization called the “Association for the Advancement of Youth with Disabilities” serving currently as an Executive Director.​ He holds a certificate in entrepreneurship from the U.S. Embassy in Liberia and certificate in HIV/AIDS awareness as a peer educator sponsored by the World Blind Union.


Hadèye Maiga, Mali
Hadeye Maiga has eight years’ experience in civil leadership and is the founder and CEO of Yellen Africa in Mali, an NGO which aims to create an exchange platform for youth from African countries on democracy, human rights education, and issues of global peace. She is also a founding member of CRI de Coeur, a group of Malian youths who carried the first humanitarian corridor in northern Mali after the occupation by jihadists in April 2012. In 2013 she was recognized as one of the 25 Most Outstanding Young Women’s Leaders in Africa. When back home, Hadeye wants to work to increase girls’ education and fight violence against women in Mali. Her driving sense is that education is a weapon for the empowerment of women. She is a graduate in computer networks and telecommunication from Hetec Bamko, Mali and holds an MS in Applied Mathematics from the University of Bamko, Mali.


Oumou Kane, Mauritania
Oumou Kane is the founder and president of the Association Multiculturelle pour un Avenir Meilleur (AMAM), an NGO established in 2011 and based in Mauritania, with headquarters in the capital city, Nouakchott. AMAM focuses on gender equality and women's empowerment, reproductive health and rights (including family planning, maternal and infant mortality), HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support, poverty alleviation, education, and cultural integration in Africa. To do this, AMAM promotes national and local ownership, leadership and capacity development, awareness campaigns for community mobilization and social change. Oumou was educated at the Institut Privé de Gestion in International Trade and Marketing, and also holds a BA in Project Study as well as a Master’s degree in Business Administration from IPG, Senegal.


Rick-Ernest Bonnier, Mauritus
Rick-Ernest Bonnier began his career in conservation working for the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation on monitoring endemic bird. Afterward, he had the opportunity to work on Round Island scientific reserve. Since November 2012, he work at the Mauritius Marine Conservation society, where he held many different positions, as assistant scientific coordinator, skipper, volunteer coordinator, and education officer. He is excited to have the chance to develop these skills through the civic leadership course and is looking forward to meeting other fellows who have the same passion for community leadership and sharing ideas. He also looks forward to sharing experience and knowledge gained with others upon his return to Mauritius. Mr. Bonnier has a school certificate in Economics from Imperial College, Mauritius and a Higher School Certificate in Economics from Curepipe College, Mauritius.



Chioma Achi, Nigeria
Chioma Achi has been actively involved in community service for the past eight years and has helped to empower rural women with income generating activities, showing much passion for youth development with an emphasis on health and education. She is currently a university lecturer at the Usmanu Danfodiyo University in Sokoto, Nigeria as well as the founder of the Street to School project aimed at pulling children and young persons off the streets and into formal education settings. Chioma has strong negotiation, interpersonal, and advocacy skills which she has been able to use in attracting a scholarship scheme for the young people in her community. She hopes that upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she will be able to apply the knowledge and skills gained into further strengthening her volunteering work in her local community with the hope that many young persons will appreciate and be involved in community service. She is currently studying for a PhD in Public Health at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Nigeria.

Abiola Odunaiya, Nigeria
Abiola Odunaiya has over five years’ experience in the community development sector with a particular focus on Information and Communication Technology (ICT) education. She is the program manager for Fedora Global Initiative, where she focuses on initiating, designing, and implementing ICT education and youth empowerment activities with a focus on girls in rural communities. In selected communities, she is responsible for training women on ICT skills that they can use to grow their businesses effectively. She also co-leads Purpose Group, a youth empowerment initiative that trains young people in the area of personal development, entrepreneurship, and leadership. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she plans to continue her work on educating young girls and women about sustainability, employability and leadership. Abiola has a BSc. in Psychology from Redeemer's University in Nigeria, and has received project management training in relation to her field of work.  

Williams Rashidi, Nigeria
Williams Rashidi is the organizational director of Queer Alliance Nigeria. Trained as a science laboratory technologist at Accra Polytechnic, he left the field science to pursue his passion for change regarding discriminatory laws and policies around sexual orientation and gender identity. His advocacy has seen him address challenge, and address government on the constitutionality of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act since 2008. Williams has participated in numerous professional trainings on leadership, project management and human rights. His lifelong objective is to work within the field of public policies, especially those that affect human rights of marginalized and vulnerable populations. ‎In the future, Williams has his eyes on an ambassadorial post. Mr. Rashidi received his post graduate diploma from the National Centere for Technology Management, Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria.


Ange Imanishimwe, Rwanda
Ange Imanishimwe has been committed to creating a good change in his community from a young age by integrating poverty reduction, food security, agriculture, ecotourism, community health, and biodiversity conservation and protection in Rwanda. He has over five years' experience in various fields in environmental management, biodiversity conservation, ecotourism, and community development. Named Top Young Innovator of Rwanda, 2012, he founded and serves as President of BIOCOOP, which has created more than 700 local jobs. Currently, Ange is working also as the Tourist Guide in Rwanda Development. His goal is to eradicate extreme poverty and malnutrition in Rwanda. Upon the completion of the Mandela Fellowship, Ange plans to continue his work of integrating biodiversity conservation, ecotourism, natural resources management, and sustainable development of Rwanda. He has earned the Bachelor of Science in Zoology and Conservation and he is completing his Master of Science in Biodiversity Conservation and Natural Resources Management.


Ibrahim Mollim Abdiraham
Ibrahim Moallim Abdiraham is currently the executive director at Aid and Education Development Initiative, a non-profit volunteer organization he founded to work towards community development in Somalia. As executive director, Ibrahim builds strategic partnerships with potential donors including international organizations, institutions, and local civil society organizations to promote community education and capacity-building, and involves volunteers to implement activities and work together for community development. Ibrahim has experience in community development, project development, and empowering volunteers through leadership. His plan is to empower volunteers to promote community education and capacity-building, and to keep building strategic partnership with various civil society organizations. Ibrahim has certificates in leadership development, community management, and micro business and is currently pursuing BA at KeMU as well as taking a certificate course in developing innovative ideas online with Coursera and the University of Maryland.


Awonke Tshefu, South Africa
Awonke Tshefu established a science center in his community to inspire youth to follow careers in science, and to sensitize the community to the benefits of science. His main objective is to help increase the mathematics and physics final year pass-rates for the schools in his region, and to encourage students to study further. He is the first Mandela Rhodes Scholar of the University of Fort Hare, an award given to top students in Africa, and represents the story of a young village boy who did not only beat the odds but broke through the chains of impossibility. Awonke holds a BSc from the University of Fort Hare and is the first member of his family to attend university, an achievement he attributes to his grandparents. Awonke continued his studies, receiving an honors degree in Chemistry, and is currently studying for a Master’s degree in Chemistry.


Fathelrhman Mohammed, Sudan
Fathelrhman Abdelrhman Mohammed has over eleven years’ experience in various fields of humanitarian work, community development, and peace building. He is currently head of programs for War Child Canada (WCC) in Sudan, where he provides oversight and leadership in the design, development, and implementation of their programs. He collaborates with Zalengie University’s Centre for Peace and Development, and volunteers in his local community to build capacity in the youth, helping them become agents of peace and community. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, he plans to continue his work in the humanitarian field and community development, with a focus on creating youth networks in which young people can work together towards peace and development in their community. Fathelrhman holds a PhD in Peace Studies from Sudan University for Science and Technology in Khartoum, Sudan, where his thesis was on the role of INGOs in promoting reconciliation between Darfur communities.


Senelile Khumalo, Swaziland
Senelile Khumalo is an exceptionally motivated and enthusiastic communications professional with five years’ experience in communications and public relations, and to some extent international humanitarian law. She is currently Public Relations and Communications Officer for Save the Children in Swaziland. Her responsibilities include advocacy for children’s rights, creating and overseeing the writing and publication of media releases, compiling annual reports and newsletters, and handling all media enquiries. She is experienced in both proactive campaign-driven releases, and responsive communications. She is a founding member, and member of the advisory board, for the Swaziland Young Women’s Network (SYWON), a feminist–led organization. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, she pledges to continue her advocacy role in creating a conducive environment for the enjoyment of human rights, particularly for children and women. She graduated with her law degree in 2008 at the University of Swaziland.


Evaline Munisi, Tanzania 
Evaline Munisi has over four years’ experience in the natural resources sector, particularly wildlife and forestry. She is currently an ecologist working in consultancy firm, COSEP Company Limited in Tanzania where she is involved in various environmental consultancy works to conduct biodiversity inventories in forest reserves and wildlife protected areas in preparation of biodiversity and habitat management plans for various protected areas. She is mostly engaged in research activities aiming to resolve human wildlife conflicts, protect threatened and endangered species and their habitat, preserve water catchment areas and forest reserves, and promote sustainable communities. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Evaline will continue her work promoting the conservation of natural resources, involving the community in conservation, as well as advocating for local communities adjacent to protected areas to be trained on various sustainable income generating activities to support their livelihood and reduce dependence and overexploitation of natural resources. Ms. Munisi holds a BS in Wildlife Management from Sokoine University of Agriculture, Tanzania.


Peace Musonge, Uganda
Peace Musonge has over five years’ expertise in research, finance, computer programming, environment, and rural development. As founder of Uganda Artemia Fish Farms Enterprise, she works with vulnerable fishing communities and researches on developing innovative green technologies to diversify aquaculture, and offers dietary advice to malnourished children and mothers. She is fluent in Dutch and French. On completion of the Fellowship, Peace will continue to engage with communities and utilize her leadership skills to contribute towards Uganda's socioeconomic and technological advancement, through private-public sector partnerships and the provision of evidence-based support for policy-making. Peace has a BS with honors in Food Science and Technology from Makerere University, a MS in Human Nutrition and Rural Development from Ghent University, and an advanced MS in Water Technology and Integrated Management from Antwerp University. She is currently a PhD student at Ghent University, developing a cost-effective water quality index.


Yvonne Jila, Zimbabwe
Yvonne Jila is a gender, media, and arts activist with over seven years’ experience. She is currently the director of the International Images Film Festival for Women, Zimbabwe where she advocates for women’s rights through film in both urban and rural areas. She also develops outreach and activism campaigns that support gender equality and social justice. She writes opinion articles on gender and arts, mentors young girls in her village and is a strong advocate for the 'new man' in fighting for gender equality. Yvonne has received training in conflict resolution, research and advocacy, monitoring and evaluation, feminist leadership, arts festival management, and public relations. Upon completion of the Fellowship, Yvonne will continue her advocacy work on women's rights issues. She holds a Bsc Honors Degree in Sociology and Gender Development Studies from Women’s University in Africa, Zimbabwe. She also studied Mass Communication at Harare Polytechnic College, Zimbabwe.


Promise Simwinde Muleya, Zimbabwe
Promise Simwinde Muleya has great passion for agriculture, climate change research, and community development. The first to get a university degree in his extended family, he co-founded Promise Foundation Austria (PFAU) with friends, to focus on affording disadvantaged children from Kariyangwe, Binga district - especially girls - to get access to primary education and clean water. Upon completion of the Fellowship, Promise hopes to build networks to accelerate his passion for developing communities through education, to mentor young people in his community, and to contribute to science and policy progress in Africa. He holds a BSc degree in Natural Resources Management and Agriculture (Agronomy) from MSU, Zimbabwe and a Master’s degree in Physical Land Resources (Soil Science) from Ghent University, Belgium through a Vliruos scholarship. He is also a PhD candidate at Farming Systems Ecology group, WUR in The Netherlands, in collaboration with UZ Soil Fertility Consortium of Southern African.


Campus Partners

The Center for African Studies

Martha Saavedra, Associate Director, Center for African Studies
Martha Saavedra has been with the Center for African Studies since 1993. Trained as a Political Scientist, she has taught atSt. Mary’s College of California, Ohio University, the Escuela de Estudios Universitarios Real Madrid and UC Berkeley, mostly recently in Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and theGraduate School of Journalism. She has published research on agrarian politics and ethnic conflict in the Nuba Mountains of Sudan, representations of Africa in Chinese popular culture, and various pieces on football, gender, and sport in Africa. At the Center, she oversees public programs and fellowships, and works closely with the African languages program among other things. She has been on the editorial boards of Soccer and Society; Sport in Society; and Impumelelo: The Interdisciplinary Journal of Sports in Africa. A veteran of Title IX battles, she has played soccer for most of her life and has coached for over 14 years.


Global Programs Summer Fellows

Mridu Markan

Mridu Markan, a graduate student pursuing Masters in Gender and Women Studies from University of Wisconsin – Madison, is trained as a social worker in India. Prior to joining UW-Madison, she was engaged with the National AIDS Control Organization, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, India for four years working towards prevention of HIV epidemic among vulnerable populations such as the female sex workers, men who have sex with men and Transgenders / Hijras, etc. Mridu believes that gender identity and roles are imperative determinants to dissemination of power, rights, and access to resources among various assemblages in a society. She is interested in understanding nuances of gender based violence, protecting human rights of sexual minorities, deconstructing patriarchal mindsets, improving access to quality health services and justice along with engaging in community mobilization and participatory research. As a Fulbright Scholar, she is keen to act as a bridge between U.S. and Indian academic institutions to facilitate dialogue and cross-learning in the field of gender equality and rights.

Dafna Bearson

Dafna Bearson is a sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley and is an assistant for the Global and Executive Programs. She is actively involved in the issue of violence prevention against women – especially teens and children – and volunteers extensively with 100 Strong (a mentoring program). In the summer of 2014, she traveled to India to work for the Tata Group on a corporate sustainability project related to the empowerment of rural, impoverished girls. Dafna’s academic interests include US-China relations; she has spent two summers volunteering in China and five years studying Mandarin.

Dafna is the recipient of the several awards—2013 University of California, Berkeley Regents’ and Chancellor’s Scholarship; 2013 Stamps Family Charitable Foundation Scholarship; 2013 Jewish Community Federation Gail Karp Orgell Scholarship; 2013 Robert Bates Scholarship.


Micheal Omeka
Hello Everyone!

My name is Micheal Omeka, a MasterCard Foundation Scholar from Niger-Delta region of Nigeria. I’m currently an undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley with a focus on Public Health as my major. I am particularly interested in social justice, health disparities in mega cities, global poverty, leadership, and volunteerism. My other interests are: table tennis, hiking, badminton, soccer, swimming, circuit training and core condition. I’m very thrilled to be interning with YALI program this summer and can’t wait to meet all our distinguished fellows. It’s a great honor to be working alongside the next generation of Africa’s innovative and transformative leaders; I’m enthused indeed!


Yael Platt
Yael Platt particularly interested in learning about and reforming institutions that silence and oppress those at the margins of gender, race and class. She is active in campus organizing as a board member of J Street, an organization that works toward a two-state solution in Israel and Palestine. Ms. Platt is currently pursuing a B.A. at Brandeis University in English and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies