YALI & COVID-19

Speeches Shim

Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges to the health, social-emotional infrastructure (such as schools), security, political, and economic components of daily life across the African continent and the rest of the world.  Despite these challenges, the YALI Regional Leadership Centers (RLCs) remain committed to providing the gold standard of leadership training to young African leaders. Since March 2020, all four RLCs successfully pivoted to full virtual training from the previous in-person and hybrid training. More than 2,000 participants graduated from YALI since the start of the pandemic, and applications are rising.  Despite current circumstances, YALI RLC alumni continue to lead timely and critical interventions to address COVID-19 in their communities, such as helping people with disabilities access critical health information, distributing food and cash to vulnerable households under lockdown, protecting essential workers with free hand-washing kits, and meeting the rising need for hand sanitizer.

Alumni Addressing COVID-19 in their Communities

Bonte Kuru of the DRC made a video in French Sign Language to teach the public about the symptoms and prevention measures of COVID-19. 

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People with COVID-19 supplies

Aisha Bubah Abdullah of Nigeria established The Mind Wheel, which provides free counseling services to individuals struggling with psychological and mental health issues during the pandemic. A team of mental health professionals provides relief to COVID-19 patients, frontline workers, and people in isolation.

YALI Alumni Associations in Guinea came together and developed hand washing kits for distribution to essential workers, effectively reducing the risk of infection for over 9,000 people.

Princess Carew of Sierra Leone is joining forces with fellow RLC Accra alumni to spread awareness about COVID-19 and discuss prevention measures. Princess is also collecting and donating sanitary pads and face masks for women in quarantine as well as engaging with communities on the stigmatization of COVID-19 survivors.

Noreen Asekenye is a founder of Tell a Story Foundation Uganda, which works to connect lives and influence change. Together with Gracious Hands Foundation, Noreen provides free hand sanitizer to the vulnerable families in her community as many of them cannot even afford to buy soap. “Tell a Story Foundation continues to portray hope, love, and support towards the needy amidst COVID-19,” said Noreen. Being a YALI RLC East Africa alumna, Noreen explained, “one of my greatest lessons from the YALI RLC is love for community. We all have a responsibility to make our communities the best and perfect places to live in. It starts by doing what you can, from wherever you can, and with what you have.”


COVID-19 Survivors' ​Spotlight project is a radio show produced by Sunnie Marcar Jr., Gertrude Toezay, and Emmett K-Max Paye from Liberia. Through live radio interviews and Facebook videos, the Survivors’ Spotlight project employs COVID-19 survivors' stories to raise awareness, reduce fear and denial, reduce the stigmatization of victims, and encourage citizens to take protective measures and seek early treatment upon observing symptoms of COVID-19. Gertrude is a 2019 Mandela Washington Fellowship alumna, and both Sunnie and Emmett are YALI RLC West Africa alumni.


Meet Yacoub Yedali, a RLC West Africa alumnus and founder of the Civic Action Initiative in Mauritania. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Yacoub initiated a campaign targeting vulnerable social groups to inform and educate them about preventing COVID-19.

Last updated: July 20, 2021

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