Members of the African Leadership Network encounter each other frequently, whether socially, at conferences, or through their innovative passion projects. One such connection was struck up three years ago between Nyagoa William, ALN Class of 2014, and Abdi Ahmed, ALN Class of 2015. They first met at the wedding of a mutual friend, the Mayor of Juba in South Sudan. Eventually, their conversation meandered to the topic of their respective nonprofit initiatives. Nyagoa is the Director of Government Relations with an SOS Children’s Village in South Sudan; she works with young people and acquires medicines and other necessities to distribute to those in need. Abdi has started an organization called The African Future, which was launched to provide famine relief in Somalia but which now also supports Somali youth in a variety of ways. Finding common ground in their work lives, Nyagoa and Abdi began to explore how they could collaborate and support each other’s projects. One such collaboration is a concert they co-hosted to bridge the gap between South Sudanese and Somali youth living in Nairobi, Kenya, where many have travelled to escape war and unrest in their countries of origin.
Previously, Abdi had been involved in politics in Canada, shifting gears mid-career in order to help ease the difficulties faced in war-torn Somalia. The African Future has been making significant strides in its efforts to ameliorate day-to-day life for Somalis and continues to gain support. Abdi has launched a leadership program for Somali youth, in which he uses social media and theatre to help young Somalis break out of their shells. He is also currently working on an initiative to sponsor members of his youth programs for tertiary education. Nya describes Abdi as a modern nomad, who loves travelling. “He’s very serious but he also has a very fun side,” says Nya. Abdi views the world travelling as a classroom for life. He is spontaneous and wants to travel to all of the countries on the African continent.
Nya and Abdi have sparked a friendship by helping each other overcome the boundaries between cultures and nationalities with the common goal of supporting youth. Both have devoted their time and skills toward nonprofit initiatives in Africa, enabling them to connect through their mutual desire to give back. Nya jokes, “Abdi will be crossing one African country off his bucket list by attending the 2015 ALN Annual Gathering in Morocco.” Who might you spark change with at ALN2015 in Marrakech?