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Meet YALI Connect Camps Mentees Converging in Tanzania

by Hiller Kate

The Institute for International Journalism introduces and congratulates the first group of Mandela Washington Fellows alumni and their mentees for becoming the very first cohort to participate in YALI Connect Camps. YALI stands for the Young African Leaders Initiative. The first two week-long Connect Camps take place in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania from March 8th to 20th, 2015. The Connect Camps are funded through a U.S. Government grant from the Collaboratory, in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), at the United States Department of State. Partnering with the Collaboratory, Ohio Universitys Institute for International Journalism in the E. W. Scripps School of Journalism will implement eight camps in Eastern, Southern, Central and West Africa. Participants in the first two Camps are from Kenya, Mauritius, Seychelles, Tanzania and Uganda.

The overarching goal of this Connect Camp is to reconnect YALI alumni in their home regions with mentees, to bring into the conversation to engage in deliberative discussions and to work on a group-driven project. Just like their mentors, mentees are expected to share their experience at the Connect Camps. The mentees experience and professional occupations come in many forms. Here are some examples of the exceptional leadership of some of the mentees who have been selected to participate in the first two Connect Camps:

  • Joyce Shikuku, a professional counselor working with Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), is also the founder of Mentor Me, which is a program aimed at empowering the youth from different backgrounds, both HIV positive and negative, to become good leaders. As part of her work, she facilitates trainings to empower female sex workers (FSWs), and gays to discuss safe sexual practices with the aim of preventing HIV infection and reduce the prevalence rate in Kilifi County.

  • Allen Kimbelwa is Founder and Chairperson, Tanzania Young Leaders Empowering Vijana (TYLEV), an organization that advocates providing empowerment to local youths. The main goal of TYLEV is to ensure that critical youths issues including engagements in economic and social responsibilities are addressed. To achieve this goal, Allen works with disadvantaged youths including street children, school drop outs, unemployed youths, and the young people involved in drugs and alcohol by empowering them and providing training in areas including leadership, health, planning, social entrepreneurship and confidence so that young people understand their talents and potentials in furthering these areas.

  • Mural Nyangaga is an actress and a model with Amazon Theatrix Ensemble, where she has been taking part in community outreaches, creating awareness on issues of HIV/AIDS, substance abuse, health and governance. She also volunteers to train under privileged teenage girls on modeling skills, to develop their self-esteem, and to make them understand their bodies, and to help them get access to basic education and stay in school. Mural is currently working to develop Smart Siz project, a girls club under Young County Change Makers. This project will support more under privileged girls from informal settlements in Kisumu by empowering them on life skills, core business skills, entrepreneurship, behavior change and health.

  • Neema S. Gamasa is IT Director at RE/MAX and holds a computer science degree from the Institute of Finance Management in Dar es Salam. Neema developed a Student Information System for Eckenforde University Tanga ( and is currently finalizing the same system for the University of Bagamoyo. The system saves time, reduces cost and paper work since every important function is automated such as registration, examination and results provision. Neema also trains and supports the agents and the brokers (Realtors) using the platform developed (iConnect supported by Gryphtech company) for the Real Estate activities and manages the regions system and website ( for its daily performance. The amazing family and friends she is having motivate her to live life spontaneously and ride along the IT career path with confidence and self-ambitious towards the attitude she has with Information Technology.

  • Mustafa Sharif has been working on, organizing and leading various youth development programs and activities for more than five years. He has been a member of the organizing committee for Global Entrepreneurship Week since 2012, and has also worked as a focal person in the Centers for Youth Dialogue project. Mustafa has been working with various youth organizations on a voluntary basis to share his experiences and expertise on issues like entrepreneurship, youth participation and community development and in decision making processes.

  • Zion William has been a social activist since 2008 and has worked with several non-profit organizations that work to provide support to underprivileged individuals with Education Sponsorships, empower youth and advocate for children’s rights, especially for marginalized children. Zion has also volunteered with various organizations that send volunteers to Tanzania to work directly with local organizations such as hospitals, schools, orphanages, conservation areas and more. Currently, Zion is an assistant manager for Karibu Africa Tanzania Volunteer adventure. She is the co-founder of “Fahari ya Msichana” (A girls Pride), which works to provide sanitary pads to girls in public schools that cannot afford them. The girls would otherwise have to stay home during the menstruation period. She is also the founder of “Sewing Seeds of Change” project, which works to support local women in villages to setup sewing projects as a source of income to support their families.

  • Lydia Owomugisha works at Xclusive Cuttings (U) Ltd as the MPS Coordinator. Her main task is to ensure that daily farm activities are operated in such a way that encourages sustainable production. In this position, Lydia sensitizes workers on environmental and social aspects at the company and advocates for the improvement of workers lives. Earlier, she interned with Wagagai Limited that focused on developing horticultural enterprises that exposed her to and gave her an understanding of greenhouse production and management of horticultural crops.

  • Kakyo Sylivia has had multiple years experience working with personal development and womens empowerment. She is currently working on a program for defending women against domestic violence who are suffering in silence and educating the men to end violence in families.

  • Cressida Mwamboma is an artist and business woman. She creates art drawings advocating for various issues such as gender-based issues, and is currently working on a book that portrays gender-related issues in the workplace. She interned at the International Labour Organization (Dar es Salaam Country Office) where she had an opportunity to showcase her artwork for Orange Day, which is a day dedicated to end gender based violence.

  • Paul Benjamin John works at Tanzania Airports Authority (Julius Nyerere International Airport Station) as Senior Electrical Technician. He has worked in the electrical engineering field for seven years, and his responsibilities at TAA include maintenance of airport facilities such as transformers, generators, medium and high voltage switch gears, airfield ground lights, and remote control system of airfield ground lighting. He is working on installation of a TV satellite dish, laying high voltage underground cable installation and designing standalone solar panels.

  • Lillian Secelela is the current chapter head for Africa 2.0 in Tanzania, sits on the board for GEW Tanzania, is part of the community of Global Shapers for the Dar hub, and a member of Smart29er and #LetsReadTanzania. She also is a host of a popular weekly youth-business radio show. Lillian also finds time to hold various speaking engagements to youth organizations, schools, and universities in her spare time in order to show youths that they have to be the change they want to see.

posted in: iij, Ohio University, Scripps, YALI
March 2, 2015

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