By Kadijah Bundu (YES 2017-2018, Sierra Leone, hosted by AYUSA in Prosper, TX)
This has been one of the best and an unforgettable days in my life: the YES Alumni Annual workshop on February 18th, 2019. Spending one year in the U.S. on the YES program and returning home to Sierra Leone was an eye opener. This year YES alumni held a very successful workshop to discuss and address matters that will enforce the continued progress of our lovely YES Alumni Association. Although I had previously gathered with YES alumni for our welcome home event (where I met the U.S. Ambassador and the Ministry of Youth Affairs!), it was my first ever annual workshop.
23 alumni from across the country were able to meet at the iEARN office to elect the new Alumni Association leadership for the next two years, discuss our yearly budget, and plan on how our funds will be utilized in individual and group projects. Ayesha B. Munu (YES 2013-2014, hosted by American Councils PO in Baxter, IA,) Alieu C. Moiwa (YES 2013-2014, hosted by AFS in Enterprise, OR), and iEARN Sierra Leone YES Staff (Massah Mary Kanu, Mary Peters, and Christian M.Gbassa) assisted with the workshop.
This workshop is important for both new and veteran YES alumni as it reinforces the benefits of being a YES alumni; reminds us of our roles and responsibilities; and teaches us about our budget, project planning and implementation, and how to use the YES website. It also provides us with time to develop our projects and project ideas. Older alumni shared stories that served as a source of motivation for the newer, more recent alumni.
I thought going on the program was the best part of the YES program, but returning home and becoming an alumni feels even better because I saw the older alumni share their projects which have been changing lives and making a positive impact in our communities. This makes me very proud and thankful to the U.S. Department of State for offering me this huge opportunity that has changed my life forever.
Amongst the numerous projects done over the years by our Alumni Association, we are very proud of implementing programs that are self-sustainable and will continue to serve our communities for years. For example, Amadu G. Kabia (YES 2010-2011, hosted by AYUSA in Harper, TX) won the YES Alumni Grant and organized the Tree Plantation Dam project to bring water to a community of over 2,000 by building them a community dam. Joseph J. Kebbie (YES 2015-2016, hosted by ACES in Oregon, OH) and Hawa Dominica Yokie (YES 2015-2016, hosted by PAX in Hutchinson, KS) were awarded a grant from the U.S. Embassy to improve girls' education and leadership opportunities in Sierra Leone. Alieu C. Moiwa and Joseph Brima Samba (YES 2015-2016, hosted by AYUSA in Macon, GA) provided high school students with math and science supplies. Tamba Abdulai (YES 2013-2014, hosted by Ayusa in Greeley, CO) created the Tamba Abdulai Foundation to empower girls through education.
In every action taken there must be a vision and a goal. One of our goals this year is to have our team implement more sustainable protects that will contribute to community development.