YES Programs



YES Alumni Grant: She Stands

Some Of The Participants Making Medium Sized Fashion Bags Muhammad Saleem Ibrahim

By Muhammad Saleem Ibrahim (YES 2014-2015, Nigeria, placed by FLAG in Zanesville, IN)

My name is Muhammad Saleem Ibrahim, and I hail from Katsina State in Northern Nigeria. Seven years ago, I had the privilege to go to the United States through the YES program. The experience that I had was life-changing. At first, it seemed like a dream. The chance to go to the U.S. at the young age of 15 is not something that happens to most people, so it was very special for me and my family. I was placed in the small town of Zanesville, near Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

One Of The Participants Making Pillow Cases Muhammad Saleem Ibrahim

My time in the U.S. had a tremendous effect on my life. At first, it was hard to adapt, but I became used to the environment, made new friends, and got into a routine at school. I began to develop new skills and better understand my capabilities. Most importantly, the YES program helped me understand that youth are the driving force of every society and how important it is for young people to identify problems in their communities and find solutions.

The YES program is one of a kind because its impact doesn’t stop after a YES student has returned home. I personally believe that being an alum is the best part of the program. Growing up in a small Muslim community in Katsina State, I have always had a zeal for finding new ways to help develop and give back to my community, but not knowing where to start was the biggest challenge.

One thing that continuously baffles me is that, even though the community does its best to support widows and underprivileged families, the number of people in need keeps increasing to the extent that charity donations aren’t sufficient enough to serve all the underprivileged families in the community. 

A Complete Bedsheet Set Cantaining The Pillow Casessweet Shaped Heart Shaped And Square Shaped Throw Pillows Made By The Particpants

This was the driving force that made me start thinking about how I could design a project that does not focus on charity and will have a long-lasting impact on the community. After several discussions with other YES alumni, we came up with a skill acquisition and entrepreneurship project. We believe that the best way to help people and families in need is to give them skills they can use to become financially independent and start their own businesses. Our hope for this YES Alumni Grant project was that our beneficiaries would not only be able to meet their daily needs, but also to train others in the community.

My grant project, She Stands, empowered 30 widows and women from underprivileged families through entrepreneurship and skill acquisition training. The project included a two-day entrepreneurship training, followed by a six-day skill training in handbag and bedsheet making. We collaborated with the NGO Entrepreneurship Development Foundation (EdeFound) to secure a venue and the required equipment, as well as worked with two expert trainers.

The participants showed such dedication, hard work, and determination in learning these skills. At the end of the project, the participants expressed their sincere appreciation to the project leaders for such an impactful experience, and they felt confident in their ability to put what they learned into practice by teaching others and possibly working together to market their goods.

One Of The Participants Recieiving Her Certificate And A Startup Kit Contaning All The Bag Making Materials Muhammad Saleem Ibrahim

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs for sponsoring this project. To the YES program and my placement organization, FLAG — I am only able to accomplish this today because my exchange experience shaped me into the person I am now. I am so glad that I got the chance to participate in this life-changing experience. To EdeFound, my project team, my parents, and every other person that helped in bringing this project to life, I would like to give a big thank you. All of this wouldn’t have been possible without your assistance and incredible support.