Eric Ngondi, 29, is a water and environmental engineer who owns and operates a consulting company in Nairobi, Kenya. After losing his vision three years ago in an accident, he has become an advocate who educates his community about people with disabilities.
“I want to be visible,” he said of his mission. “I want to motivate and inspire others, just touch their lives. I want to show the community how a person with disability or blindness can participate in the daily activities in an office, school or church.”
He is one of 25 African scholars who are calling FIU home for the next few weeks as part of President Obama’s Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders. During their visit, the scholars will receive leadership training that will help them in their work advocating for human rights, access to education and water sanitation, among other issues. They accomplish their work through governmental offices, ministries and non-governmental organizations.
“FIU has a deep commitment to international research projects, including our Global Waters for Sustainability Program (GLOWS), which created visibility for our work in several different African countries. We look forward to more programs on the continent,” said Andres Gil, vice president for research at FIU. “Being chosen as the only university in Florida to host the YALI Washington fellows this year is a great honor and we hope that their experience here will help affect positive change in their home countries.”
FIU was chosen by the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) through a competitive process to be one of only 20 Washington Fellowship host institutions that represent the excellence and diversity of U.S. higher education. FIU’s program focuses specifically on public management.
Participants in the Washington Fellowship are 500 young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa who have a proven record of accomplishment in promoting innovation and positive change in their organizations, institutions, or communities.
The Washington Fellowship is the flagship program of the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) whose goal is to empower young African leaders through academic coursework, leadership training, mentoring, networking, professional opportunities, and support for activities in their communities. Fellows will also come together in Washington, D.C., in late July for a Presidential Summit.