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2014 Fellows

Fellow Biographies

Photos of Fellows' Current Work

Mam-Pingdawende Francine Boro-Legma, Burkina Faso
Mam-Pingdawende Francine Boro-Legma currently serves as the IT Project Manager with ONATEL SA, a private telecommunication company where she has launched postpaid offers, 3G solutions, mobile payment platforms, and loyalty systems.  In 2009, she became the General Secretary of the Association of Women of Telecommunications in Burkina Faso. She has received extensive training on topic of internet governance and is increasingly concerned about the technological gap between Africa and developed countries, and more importantly the gap between women and men in their usage of new technologies in Africa.  As a response to this growing concern, Francine created AFT, an NGO that focuses on building the technology capacity of women and girls via trainings, seminars, and workshops. Francine has a master’s degree in International Commerce from Icoges in Paris, France and a bachelor’s of engineering degree in computer science from the Institute of Engineering in Computer Science in Limoges, France. Francine hopes her time in the Washington Fellowship will help her achieve her future goals of becoming the first woman leader in the IT sector in Burkina Faso.



Muluh Hilda Bih, Cameroon
Muluh Hilda Bih is a journalist with eight years of experience working with Cameroon’s national radio and television service. In this capacity, she uses her voice and personal experience as a disabled person to champion the cause of women and persons with disabilities. She also mentors young girls through the ESTHER Project, an initiative that she founded, by speaking in schools, churches, and conferences throughout Cameroon. Hilda holds a bachelor’s of science in Journalism and Mass Communications from the University of Buea. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, she plans to use the knowledge acquired to empower other young women and disabled persons through workshops and seminars and continue to use mass media more efficiently to effect change in Cameroon. To learn more about Muluh Hilda Bih, click here.



Simon Zerezghi Kiflay, Eritrea
Simon Kiflay has ten years of experience working in community and youth development. Currently, he is head of the Automation and Preservation section in the Research and Documentation Center of Eritrea. He co-founded the Eritrean National Reading Day, which aims to encourage youth and the larger community to have a stronger reading culture. He serves as an Executive Committee Member in the Library and Information Association of Eritrea (LIAE). In this role, he has established and strengthened libraries and information centers by introducing a records and information management system. Simon holds a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Asmara and he is currently studying for his master’s degree in Library and Information Science at the University of Nairobi. Upon completing the Washington Fellowship, Simon intends to establish stronger information centers, conduct trainings and workshops to increase awareness and understanding, and work to contribute towards a prosperous, democratic, peaceful, and developed Africa.



Dongui Zana Yacouba Ouattara, Cote d'Ivoire
Dongui Zana Ouattara has over six years of experience working in the field of community development. Currently, he is an EFL teacher and the co-director and lecturer of a non-violence league in the central part of the Ivory Coast. He arranges and performs campaigns of sensitization in secondary schools and neighboring war-stricken towns. Donqui previously led many youth leagues promoting literacy and development in his hometown. He holds a higher national diploma in Transports and Logistics and a master's degree in English Linguistics from the University of Abidjan Cocody. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, Donqui plans to continue promoting non-violence nationwide and work on the creation of a Professional Training Center to help abandoned and orphaned children in his home region.



Metta Kongira, Gambia
Metta Kongira has four years of experience in public service as a Public Health Officer in the Gambia. She is currently training to become a Laboratory Scientist at the Medical Research Council Unit. She volunteers with several nonprofit organizations providing assistance in caring for the elderly, teaching at summer school camps, providing peer health education, and mentoring children. Metta has a higher national diploma in Public and Environmental Health from the Gambia College and a Bachelor of Science in Biology and Public Health from the University of the Gambia. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, she intends to work on projects that focus on improving the health and well-being of the public to improve the living standards of her community.



Moses Nganwani Tia, Ghana
Moses Nganwani Tia has over six years of experience working in agricultural development throughout rural Ghana. He currently serves as the Executive Director of the Savannah Young Farmers Network (SavaNet) where he focuses on providing efficient organizational management, project design and implementation, and coalition building strategies. Moses holds a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Economics and Extension from the University for Development Studies (UDS) and a professional development certificate in Innovative Collaboration for Development from UNITAR. Upon his return from the Washington Fellowship, he plans on leading the implementation of a nationwide initiative focused on the empowerment of youth in agriculture that will support Ghanaian youth achieve a sustainable livelihood in agriculture.



Cadija Mané, Guinea-Bissau
Cadija Mané currently serves as the Coordinator for House of Rights. She previously served as a health researcher with the Ministry of Health and later with the National Institute of Health. She is also a volunteer working to create open forums to give citizens an opportunity to voice concerns regarding issues impacting their local community such as drug trafficking, human rights abuses, and political issues. Cadija received her degree in Sociology from the Universidade Lusofona de Humanidades e Tecnologias in Portugal. After completing the Washington Fellowship, she intends to continue to be active in the field of human rights and hopes to teach civic education to her community.



Walid Ahmed Ali, Kenya
Walid Ahmed Ali has over six years of experience working with community based organizations as a civic leader and as community resource person. Currently, he serves as Chairman and Social Scientist with Lamu Youth Alliance. His work focuses on respecting diversity and promoting human rights to ensure human suffering is reduced.  Walid is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Development Studies at the Technical University of Mombasa in Kenya. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, Walid plans to work with youth by empowering them with leadership skills, increasing their understanding of sustainable development, and promoting their rights with the goal of bringing positive change to Kenya.


Maurine Muthengi, Kenya
Maurine Muthengi has four years of experience working with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) providing services in information technology, project management, and database management. She is the founder of the Donate a Pad Initiative that was created in December 2012 and ensures girls in primary schools are provided with sanitary towels to prevent them from missing school during their menstrual cycle. Maurine holds a bachelor’s of science degree in Information Technology from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, she seeks to use her knowledge, skills, and networks to improve and grow Donate a Pad Initiative. She hopes to do so by empowering youth through mentorship programs, workshops and training. In addition, Maurine hopes to partner with other Kenyan fellows to disseminate what they learn during the fellowship to youth and to work on projects that will bring solutions to Kenya and Africa at large.


Samwel Mwangala Njagi, Kenya
Samwel Mwangala has over seven years of experience working in the community development sector. He currently serves as a volunteer President with the Of Kilifi County Youth Bunge Network, where he focuses on mobilizing Kilifi youth towards starting their own business, participating in key decision making processes, and implementing leadership and governance activities. He has also served as a coordinator for Vijana Pata Vitabulisho Chap! Chap!  He holds a diploma in Community Development from Pwani University in Africa. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, Samwel Mwangala plans to provide empowerment workshops for young people that promote production of alternative energy sources.



Khahliso Khama, Lesotho
Khahliso Khama is a journalist, TV producer, blogger, and social entrepreneur. As an advocate for quality education in Africa, she founded the Dream Lesotho Education Foundation, an initiative that supports and advocates for quality education and youth development in Lesotho. For her efforts and contribution in education, Khahliso has been recognized by the Moremi Initiative for Women’s Leadership in Africa as a MILEAD fellow and the SET Africa initiative as one of the 23 inaugural fellows from across Africa.  After completing the Washington Fellowship, she hopes to establish a youth support center in Lesotho to aid youth development initiatives.


Mantoa Moiloa, Lesotho 
Mantoa Moiloa has worked with the Lesotho Northern Parks for four years and currently serves as Park Manager at the Liphofung Cave cultural and historical site. She serves as an advisor to Community Conservation Forums (CCF) where she helps identify and approve restoration projects to improve the local infrastructure. Mantoa is active in many different activities in her community including working on ecotourism projects to help improve livelihoods, assisting with conservation awareness campaigns, partaking in law enforcement operations against illegal poachers in the parks, and working in alien plants removal and reintroducing indigenous plants operations. Mantoa has a Bachelor of Technology in Ecotourism Management from Tshwane University of Technology. Upon her return from the Washington Fellowship, she plans to dedicate her newly acquired skills in empowering local communities, especially women, in strengthening their ecotourism projects. She will also focus more on conservation awareness campaigns and environmental education.



Mohammed B Kamara, Liberia
Mohammed Kamara has over ten years of experience working with many international organizations including American Refugees Council (ARC), International Rescue Committee (IRC), Premere Urgence Aid Humanitarian International, and Right to Play with IBIS - Education for Development. He served as the Program Assistant with IBIS on their Support to Ivorian Refugees and Host Communities (SIRHC) program where he worked with refugees, host communities, youth, and students. He coordinated educational activities for refugees that focused on life skills, livelihood, and peace building. Mohammed is the founder of Peace Link Liberia, an organization seeking to build the capacity of youth as stakeholders to resolve disputes between and within their community of peers by using a non-violent approach to conflict resolution. Upon the completion of the Washington Fellowship program, he plans to continue to work with Peace Link Liberia to undertake peace building and youth empowerment Initiatives in Lofa County, Liberia. He hopes to combat tribal and religious violence and youth unemployment to build a peaceful and Inclusive community.



Sani Ayouba Abdou, Niger
Sani Ayouba Abdou is founder and Executive Director of the Young Volunteers for the Environment (JVE), an NGO that works for the protection and preservation of the environment by conducting climate advocacy and promoting clean energy. He travels frequently to rural areas in Niger to inform the public of environmental and sustainable development issues facing their community. Ayouba holds a master’s degree in Project Management. After completing the Washington Fellowship, he plans to increase youth involvement in the field of environment and encourage youth employment in the green economy.



Chundung Ashley Dauda, Nigeria
Chundung Ashley Dauda has five years of experience as a community development worker. She currently serves as the Program Officer with Women Without Walls Initiative (WOWWI) where she is responsible for coordinating peace building programs for communities living in conflict, including the city of Jos in northern Nigeria. She is also responsible for facilitating dialogue sessions for youth living in conflict and conducting training workshops in peacebuilding for women and peace education for students. Chundung holds a master’s degree in Conflict Management and Peace Studies from the University of Jos Nigeria with a focus on the use of inter religious dialogue as a tool for building peace in Jos. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, Chundung plans to work on sensitization workshops for youth in Jos, with a focus on empowering electorates on how to hold elected officials accountable to help mitigate corrupt practices in government.


Muhammad Usman, Nigeria 
Muhammad Usman has over four years of experience working in areas related to education for sustainability, climate change adaptation, and mitigation. He currently serves as the founder and Executive Director for the Centre for Renewable Energy and Action on Climate Change (CREACC-Nigeria). In this capacity, he works on designing a biogas generation system using 100% available local raw materials and implementing climate and renewable energy related activities that assist in bridging the poverty gap among his local community. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, Usman's ambitious plan is to forge ahead with his civic engagements on sustainability, renewable energy, climate action campaigns, green growth advocacy and continue to build capacity to develop his under-served and under-resourced communities.



 Jean Pierre Maro, Senegal
Jean Pierre Maro is as an English teacher and served as an interpreter for Gaston Berger University for visiting delegations from foreign universities. He has served as the Director of Mobility in the Bureau of Research and Cooperation. Jean Pierre founded Bridge Kids Senegal, which is based in Saint-Louis and provides formal school for underprivileged students attending Koranic schools. He has also launched a Clean Campus program, emphasizing the importance of individual stewardship of the environment. He has an academic background in media and communications. Upon his return from the Washington Fellowship, he plans to share his acquired skills and knowledge with his community to inspire change.



 Amukelani Mayimele, South Africa
Amukelani Mayimele has over three years of experience working in youth consultation, policy engagement, and capacity building.  She is currently the Executive Director of Zayrah Africa, a youth led development agency focusing on development of fragile states. Amukelani leads a team of dynamic and inspired young people from offices in South Africa, Benin and Tunisia and is responsible for the design and implementation of youth programs and bringing the voice of youth into policy making. She holds a bachelor’s of commerce degree in Accountancy. When she returns from the Washington Fellowship, she plans to engage government leaders in creating and implementing effective youth policies that will address youth issues, particularly youth unemployment.


Sbonelo N. Mkhize, South Africa
Sbonelo Mkhize is the Chairman of the uThukela Local House of Traditional Leaders, the governing body of the 5.5 million people living in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. He is the co-founder of the Amakhosi Rural and Local Economic Development Initiative, an organization that encourages traditional leaders to develop their regions through agricultural reforms. He is an Economic Analyst at MCM Capital where he is responsible for rural development issues and energy product procurement. Prior to joining MCM Capital, Mr Mkhize was an Investment Consultant  at Negotiated Benefits Consultant Holdings, South African. He has received several awards including the Rhodes Trust Fund Scholarship and the United World Colleges Scholarship. He holds Bachelor’s Degrees in Economics and Management from the University of KwaZulu-Natal with minors in Economic History and Investment Finance, and is currently completing a Master’s Degree in Commerce (Local Economic Development) at the same institution.



Paleki Ayang, South Sudan
Paleki Ayang is a lawyer who is passionate about women’s rights. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the South Sudan Women’s Empowerment Network (SSWEN), a national indigenous network that aims to empower South Sudanese women, promote human rights, and build peaceful societies in the Republic of South Sudan. Paleki serves in an Advisory Council to the Special Representative of United Nations Secretary General in South Sudan. She is also a Gender Advisor to the United States Institute for Peace – Peace Radio for Youth in South Sudan program. Paleki is also a member of the Taskforce for the Engagement of Women, supported by the Institute of Inclusive Security and representing a group of 20 peace-builders from Sudan and South Sudan who come together with an objective to increase the effectiveness of the nine cooperation agreements signed between both countries. She graduated from the University of Juba’s College of Law with a distinction in 2008. To learn more about Paleki Ayang and her work, visit Fellows in Focus



 Hashim Pondeza, Tanzania
Hashim Pondeza is a Zanzibari scholar with a regional focus on sub-Saharan African countries, with specific expertise in the politics of Zanzibar and Tanzania. He has previously worked with Save the Children International as a Child Labor Technical Advisor to the Child Labor Unit of the Zanzibar’s Ministry of Labor, Economic Empowerment and Cooperatives. He has also taught child protection courses at the Zanzibar University and previously worked as a Senior Research Officer for the Zanzibar Institute for Research and Public Policy. Currently Hashim is an Advisor for ILPI in Zanzibar, working across Tanzania with local governments, CSOs and other international development partners on efforts to strengthen democracy and good governance in Tanzania. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Public Administration with a focus in International Relations from the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania and a Master of Public Administration. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, Hashim plans to empower Zanzibar youth on matters related to good governance, democracy, life skills, social and economic entrepreneurship, and access to social services.



Cyrus Kawalya, Uganda
Cyrus Kawalya is a visual development strategist with a deep passion for the creative arts of film and photography. He has been a photographer for 10 years and has worked with clients such as African Woman magazine, Zenji magazine, British High Commission, GIZ, World Bank, and the European Union. He is currently the founder and Team Leader of Vision I, an organization that offers workshops to young people who are interested in pursuing a career in film or photography. He has conducted youth empowerment and development projects for youth from slum and urban communities to provide them a platform to tell their stories the way they want them heard. He created the Youth innovation Hub, a platform to help youth who have pioneered business ventures to earn a living. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship program, Cyrus will continue to offer workshops and trainings and will also create a new multimedia platform that will amplify and bring together many voices and stories.



Charles Chalwe Mwansa, Zambia
Charles Chalwe Mwansa has over three years of experience working with marginalized groups such as Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender and Inter-sex persons (LGBTI) and victims of HIV/AIDS. As the Advocacy and Policy Officer for a LGBTI rights advocacy community, Charles mobilizes and advocates for the promotion and protection of marginalized populations in his country. Additionally, he has been involved in volunteer work since 2010 as the Assistant Coordinator for A Home for Charity, whose main objective is to identify outstanding young vulnerable children of Ndola’s Chipulukusu compound, and provide financial aid in the form of primary school educational scholarships. He is a law graduate from the Zambia Open University. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, Charles will apply newly acquired skills in his professional work and continue to champion for the rights of LGBT persons in Zambia through consultative dialogue engagement with various stakeholders.



Norman Jabulani Mukwakwami, Zimbabwe
Norman Mukwakwami currently serves as a Research Coordinator for the Centre for Natural Resource Governance, where he focuses on initiating, designing and implementing research projects. He has worked as a trainee-mining engineer for Lafarge Cement Zimbabwe and RioZim Limited. Norman holds a bachelor's degree in Mining Engineering from the University of Zimbabwe and intends to begin his studies towards an LLM in Mineral Law and Policy in late 2014. Upon completion of the Washington Fellowship, Norman plans to carry out a project to reduce the use of mercury in artisanal mining in Zimbabwe. He also intends to continue campaigning for the formalization of artisanal mining, curbing of illicit financial flows, and affording equal opportunities for women in mining with a focus on ensuring transparency and accountability in Zimbabwe's extractive industry.


Tsungai Elaine Vera, Zimbabwe
Tsungai Elaine Vera has eight years of experience working to enhance the public participation of women, youth, and marginalized groups in Zimbabwe. She currently serves as a Projects Lawyer with the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum where she provides legal assistance for victims of organized violence and torture. She also trains traditional leaders and communities on the law and their role in providing rural communities with access to justice. Tsungai has extensive, hands-on program cycle management experience, is a keen and skilled trainer /facilitator in the areas of human rights, legal education, and voter rights, and a successful grant writer. Upon returning from the Washington Fellowship, Tsungai plans to conduct work focusing on the new Constitution including providing technical support in terms of justice for victims of political violence, ensuring a gender focus, and amplifying the voice of youth.