Young African Leadership Intitiative (YALI East Africa): The Change Making Experience

YALI Collage

YALI-Participants photo-shoot (Kenyatta University Nairobi)

1. YALI -East Africa Particpants at Uhuru Park
2. Mark McCord giving a lecture at YALI-East Africa
3. Milton Mageni- the only student who came by plane without a passport sharing a  light moment-East Africa


Let’s digress for a moment prior to sharing with you the happenings of the 3 weeks YALI-East Africa residential program at Kenyatta University, Nairobi.


Before proceeding, let’s share a very short story.

One day, our history professor walked into class with a glass of water. As he raised it, most of us thought he was going to ask the characteristic question of a glass half empty or glass half full challenge. Instead, with a smile on his face, he asked, “How heavy is this glass of water I’m holding?”

That was the same mindset many of us had on joining YALI. Yea, it is yet another leadership/business/civic training; attend and get a certificate at the end of it all.

Unbeknown to us at the time, we were in for the surprise of a lifetime. Our first three weeks at the training centre, plus the 8-week virtual program we to undertake.

The YALI program is wide-ranging, engaging and not to forget, demanding too. From the first day of induction; the team building and bonding sessions, the YALI staff introductory speech, visits from various CEO’s and company directors, visits to the United Nations – Nairobi, PAWA254 and Family Bank made for an experiential stay.

To have a glimpse of what was happening I decided to gather the views of other participants; least I blow a solo YALI trumpet.

Delphine (4th Cohort – Rwanda) agrees that from those few days at the training center was able to learn a lot on self-discovery as well as about Africa. She further stated that “YALI experiences restores a sense of possibilities that many people loose when they endure many is just a great, eye opening, mind alerting, and soul feeling experience.”

Can’t argue with that, even Arnold (4th Cohort – DRC) shared similar sentiments admitting that prior to YALI, he had difficulties charting his life’s path, unaware of what he wanted from life. A few weeks into the training and he’s purposefully determined to become the “next strong Change-Maker who knows how to achieve goals”. Way to go, kudos Arnold.

YALI hands down is a prestigious and life-changing programme, one recommended for any and every aspiring young leader. It has a range of trainings that help you grow your respective passionate areas. Hamse (4th Cohort – Somalia) acknowledged his leadership and interpersonal skills have been categorically enriched and augmented since attending the YALI residential programme. This Hamse attributes to the constructive approach as well as competent facilitators who are well-informed.

Another of the respondents (names withheld on request) adduced that the training helped her develop skills that should be considered basic in leadership; she can now coordinate a work team and coordinate civil society organizations. She further disclosed that the programme freed her from a state of mental-blockage. She needed an involvement that would pick her up, show her the extent of her strength and mind, and YALI delivered. The program has helped her see opportunities and possibilities amidst obstacles and stumbling blocks.

An interviewee from Tanzania (requested anonymity) was quick to admit that his paradigm on life reformed post YALI. He says, “The way I saw life before YALI is totally different from the way I am seeing life now.” He has become proactive, unassuming, and considerate in his life’s engagements. Lorna from Kenya concurs, as she is a candidate to becoming more open minded, focus on the circle of influence, improved her communication skills, adopted the effectively practiced habit of-seek first to understand, then to be understood; quite a leap to say the least.

Another participant stated that she has been able to come up with a project; one she expects shall attract Transformation Funding. Several are volunteering with local organizations in order to keep the fire burning as well as transferring skills and knowledge to the rest of the community. It has also served as an avenue to channel and further horn their skills as they chart their new found purpose and directions; am reminded of iron sharpening iron.

The program has gifted more than new projects and volunteers; the trainings have aided a number of its participants become better at their jobs. What they formerly considered challenges now spur them forwards, with the added plus of motivating their contemporaries and fellow personnel.

All participants are unanimous on the training being life-transforming, of significant value, and distinctive. More like our professor, with the glass of water with a different concept. The training too, offered us an opportunity to see the glass of water with variant perspectives.

Back to the professor,

Students offered different answers ranging from 8, 10, 15 to 30 grams. He however responded saying, the weight of the glass does not matter; it all depends on how long you hold it. ‘If I hold it for a long time, the weight won’t change, but the heavier it will feel to me.’

As we nodded in agreement he went on, ‘The education you get is much like this glass. Think about it for a moment and nothing happens. Think about it for two days, three, five, twenty and you will be incapable of doing anything else until you drop it.’ That’s what the YALI participants are going through.

They are aching for change, burdened to download and impact society creating a network of young Change-Makers across the globe.


6 responses to “Young African Leadership Intitiative (YALI East Africa): The Change Making Experience

  1. Wow.great insights there.thankyou mentor kenya.I am sure that through the wisdom impacted by the various activities and knowledge acquired will enable me become a great young African Change Maker


  2. Amazing revelations, great architecture of words. I am also a living testimony of the Transformation that the YALI Program bears. It’s no longer about me, but rather what value I add to the people and environment around me.
    Long live such great Initiatives (YALI EA) and gifted Minds of course like Fred’s..

    Liked by 1 person

    • It is good to know we have testimony to evidence what we shared. We appreciate your compliments towards Fred as it is with great minds that we expect to do great stuff too.
      Thanks Gregory. . .


    • Hello Gregory,
      We apologise for the delayed response, however, it is an honour to appreciate the value YALI added to you.

      Long live YALI-EA and gifted minds.


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