PAYLP alumnus Brian Sibanda’s journey from poverty in Zimbabwe to scholarship in the United States

For 18-year-old Zimbabwean Brian Sibanda, discovering that he had been accepted to Pomona College in California was nothing short of a dream come true. “I was very shocked and for a couple of days I thought I was dreaming.” A former participant in the Pan-African Youth Leadership Program (PAYLP) administered by Meridian International Center in partnership with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), Brian received a full scholarship to attend Pomona College this year where he is now just days away from completing his first semester. As someone who faced adversity at a young age, this feat represents a major milestone in Brian’s ongoing journey to empower himself and the lives of youth like him in countries across Africa. Continue  

Culture at the Center: Eritrean Community in D.C.

Every day around 5pm, people start pouring through a small heavy door on 18th Street in Adams Morgan.  Nearly hidden behind the long lines from the bars that surround it is the entrance to the Eritrean Civic and Cultural Center (ECCC).  Among the DMV’s considerable Eritrean population, the ECCC has emerged as one of the foremost meeting places for the community.  Continue  

“The Let Girls Learn U.S. Exchange Program” by Bochra Laghssais, A Moroccan Participant

First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama invited 22 Moroccan girls and 22 Liberian girls to the White House for the premiere of the CNN documentary We Will Rise on October 11, the International Day of the Girl. I was one of the Moroccan girls invited to Washington D.C. as part of First Lady Obama’s “Let Girls Learn” initiative. The White House visit was a follow-up to First Lady Obama’s visit to Liberia and Morocco in June 2016, during which we Moroccan girls participated in a roundtable discussion on the challenges young girls face in order to continue...


Expanding the Impact of Women Entrepreneurs in Africa

Each year U.S. missions nominate leading women entrepreneurs from sub-Saharan Africa to participate in the African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) as part of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). AWEP was launched in 2010 to bolster the economic impact on women entrepreneurs during the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) Forum. This post was written by Elizabeth Barry and Mark Rebstock. Continue