With the unique opportunity to coordinate two conferences as part of follow-on for the President’s Young African Leaders Initiative–and hours to clock at airports and en route to Dakar, Senegal–I eagerly settled in with the search function at Amazon.com. For a while now, as part of my travel, I love nothing more than to dive into books—generally fiction—set in the place where I’m heading.
It may seem obvious that people with more opportunity are happier people. But without the right tools to take advantage of opportunity, hope funnels down to despair far too often.
Case in point, Zimbabwe. In the midst of more elections, a country that has battled itself for far too long will again go to the polls to elect a President that will promise change he’s not likely to deliver. Quite possibly, that person will remain Robert Mugabe, the man who spent the last decade promising equality and opportunity while warping his country to the brink of failed statehood. If, by some miracle, Morgan Tsvangirai is allowed to win, the bleak looks a little brighter. But it is still dim. Most would agree that the unity government created after the 2008 elections has moved the nation a long way. Hope is back, no question, but without the right infrastructure, laws, training, and leaders at all levels, translating that hope into lasting change will be elusive. And Mr. Tsvangirai, despite being a Meridian alum, will have much to prove if he is given the reigns – from personal failings to questionable judgments, his first term was not the glimmering model the world was hoping for.
In collaboration with the State Department, and as part of the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP), Meridian implemented an African regional project focused on fighting wildlife crime and conservation. The project brought together thirteen park rangers and wildlife protection specialists from nine different countries in sub-Saharan Africa to participate in a range of site visits and meetings across the United States. Continue