United States Consul General in Lagos F. John Bray has tasked the Mandela Washington Fellows to use the knowledge acquired from the United States for the development of their communities.
Speaking at the 2018 Mandela Washington Fellowship reunion conference in Lagos, Bray disclosed that the initiative,
launched by former President Barack Obama in 2014, has empowered about 3,700 entrepreneurial and young Africans, to foster greater collaboration.
“Since 2014, nearly 3,700 young Africans have traveled to the U.S. for an exchange designed to empower them and enhance the great work they are already doing. Among those who have participated in the program were 360 Nigerians. Now that you have returned to Nigeria, you will enter the next phase of this exchange. The purpose for bringing you all together immediately after your fellowship experience is first and foremost to compare notes on your experiences and explore ways for all of you and the U.S. government to collaborate going forward.
“Secondly, we hope to help you expand and increase the sustainable impact of the Mandela Washington Fellowship in your communities and nation-wide, forging new networks to magnify the positive changes that you are already making. We will do this through the grants and assistance that we provide Mandela Washington alumni each year. We also encourage you to reach out to the alumni of other U.S. exchange programs and to engage with the thousands of young people who have joined the YALI Network in Nigeria.”
Speaking further, Bray said, “We have made a considerable investment in you and I am sure you will prove that it was a worthwhile investment in the future of your country and in the future of Africa. As Consul General, I have been interacting with MWF alumni for years, always impressed and captivated by your achievements.
“This year, 2017 Mandela Washington Fellow, Uchenna Onwuamaegibu Ugwu mentored five school girls from Onitsha helping them develop an app titled, FD- Detector, which helps to identify fake pharmaceuticals. Noting the importance of their work, she entered the group as competitors in the junior category of the 2018 Technovation Challenge in the U.S. Last month the young girls won first prize.”
On his part, Public Affairs Officer, US Consulate General Lagos, Russell Brooks urged the fellows to also use the knowledge acquired for the development of the Sustainable Development Goals ( SDGs).
Speaking on behalf of the participants,, Temitayo Etomi, 2014 Mandela Washington Fellow urged members to collaborate and work as partners in the Nigeria project.
“We must regard the experience as an opportunity to contribute to the development of our country. Don’t keep to yourself. You must give back to the community. You must consider your experience as a privilege. You must also remember that this is a call to action and service.
Over 11,000 applications were received for the 2018 edition and only 60 applicants were shortlisted.