500 young African leaders are taking part in a US government program at American universities this summer. They would study Civic Leadership, Public Management and Business. Fauzia Abdikadir of Kenya is among the young people.
Ms. Abdikadir spoke to VOA about her goals and the goals of her group in Kenya — the Northern Organization for Social Empowerment. She says she wants to improve health care and development in the northeastern part of the country.
Ms. Abdikadir comes from a family of travelling animal herders in Garissa. Garissa has failed to develop as fast as the rest of the country. Ms. Abdikadir hopes the Northern Organization can change that.
"We are being taught how to transform the societies with what we have. They say what we have is the energy, the zeal, the enthusiasm and the brains of coming up with new ideas in order to save the society from poverty, illiteracy, gender-based violence and so many social vices," said Abdikadir.
The people of northeastern Kenya have depended for centuries on their animals. Families move from one place to another in search of water and places to feed the animals. This traditional life — always on the move limits education and health care. Most people walk more than 10 kilometers to reach schools, or a health center.
Ms. Abdikadir said she wants to make agriculture another way of life in her community. She believes settling permanently and planting crops would provide a better future for young people.
"Specifically, where I come from we are not so much into agriculture yet we have very fertile land, we have very good opportunities to practice agriculture. The other thing is the youth empowerment, we need to empower the youth," Abdikadir said.
Ms. Abdikadir said there are two kinds of young people — those from rural areas and those from cities. She said only the city people can make use of what limited resources that exist.
In the United States, Ms. Abdikadir said she and the other young people receive six weeks of training, they will also work for two months in the civil leadership field. The program seeks to guide Africa's educators, business people and activists of the future.
The Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders is part of President Obama's Young African Leaders Initiative. Those attending are between ages 25 and 35. They will receive money to support their plans and organizations after they complete the program.