2018 means a lot to me and the African community. Here's why?

Stanley Ndambakuwa posts an image on the Inaugural Obama Scholars story board in Chicago while attending a storytelling workshop during the Obama Foundation Scholars orientation week in August 2018. Photo by The Obama Foundation

On August 22, 2018, I moved to start a new life in the South Side of Chicago, the future home of the Obama Presidential Center, and a place where President Barack Obama began his leadership journey as a community organizer. A community where his story is rooted. I was inspired by every little detail and every little story I leant about the South Side. Starting a year, in the place that inspired Barack Obama to become the first African-American President in the history of the United States of America. There is more to write about my experiences, but I believe I am working so hard to collect every information I can share with you in the future.

When President Obama left office he told the world, 'I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change - but in yours.' On August 28, he spoke to us and said, 'When I left office, I decided that the next thing I would do is to develop the next generation of leaders.' When I met the young leaders from other countries, I was encouraged by their stories, and we are working together as a family to bring solutions to the most pressing challenges in our communities. And when I met President Obama, the experience was a lifetime opportunity.

Today, I only wanted you to know that being an Obama Scholar as one of the 25 young leaders from around the world at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy has been a life changing experience. It came with that unique opportunity to meet the 44th President of the United States Barack Obama, to learn from him, and to grow following his footsteps. My long time mentor, Christopher Che once told me that 'anything that gives an opportunity to learn, is worth your time.' This is the reason why I am here, and spending a year learning the skills and getting the tools from inside and outside the classroom that are needed to take my work to the next level when I return home. From here, I am going change the world. So far, I have met great people, who have shared their stories, and provided a new path and further support as we reshape our work.

ACFE Group photo by: Robert Mabusela

In the last few weeks, our Educate the Girl Child Campaign enrolled a new cohort of 20 girls who will start a new education and leadership journey with us in 2019. This is a milestone since we have always looked at better ways to integrate our campaign in ways that can benefit the South African community. This international campaign started as an advocacy initiative, and we just developed it into a tool that will allow us to raise funds for the education of girls.

These girls are no different from my sisters who raised me when I was a young boy. Being born as the only boy in a family of girls, I understood the challenges faced by girls, and many more across the African continent face the same challenges. That is the reason I am excited about us having achieved this milestone for a few girls who will benefit from this program. In the next few weeks, we will reach out to you to sign up to mentor one of our girls, and involve them in your corporate experiences to diversify their leadership experiences.

This is not the main conversation for today, so let me leave you enjoy your holidays. I thank you all for supporting our work, and I hope we continue to have your support for the work ahead. I wish you a happy festive season.

Thank you so much,

Stanley Ndambakuwa

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