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Abigail Goes to the White House!

This week in Washington, DC, Abigail Kaindu, an alumnus of Camfed’s scholarship program from rural Zambia and now a champion for change in her country, is participating in a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity: President Obama’s Forum with Young African Leaders, a unique event designed to highlight a “new generation of Africans who will shape sub-Saharan Africa’s next 50 years.”

Over the years at Camfed, we’ve watched Abigail overcome a background of extreme poverty, thrive in school (watch a video of her in high school here) and become a powerful advocate for girls’ education in Zambia. We’ve long been inspired by her, and we’re thrilled her achievements are being celebrated in such a prestigious way.

Yesterday, the forum started at the State Department, where she and 114 other young Africans were welcomed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. While there, Abigail was featured in a short film about the forum, and you can watch her discuss the importance of economic independence for women and meet other Forum participants by clicking play below. (Abigail is the woman identified for Zambia.)

Click here to watch the video.

Then, Abigail and her colleagues headed to the East Room of the White House and attended a town hall meeting with President Obama. The president addressed the group and said, “The world needs your talents and your creativity.  We need young Africans who are standing up and making things happen not only in their own countries but around the world.” Then, he took questions on topics ranging from HIV/AIDS to governance.

“It was an honor to be in a room with Obama, sharing our ideas!” says Abigail. “He presented us with a challenge: He said Africa’s youth have the energy and the vision to create a better future. And he’s right. No one understands Africa’s challenges the way we do. We are living them, and we have the skills to develop solutions.”

Today, Abigail is meeting with leaders of Congress on Capitol Hill and participating in small group discussions. Tomorrow, she’ll attend “The Way Forward Plenary” led by Under Secretaries of State Judith McHale and Maria Otero. She’ll get to share her feedback on the forum and discuss steps for the future. (Watch the plenary live on Thursday from 8:30-9:30 am EST here.)

The Forum is also providing Abigail with time to exchange ideas with other young African leaders like herself.

“We came from many countries – Namibia, Mali, DRC, Malawi – and in each place it’s the same: there is a lack of opportunity in rural areas,” says Abigail. But by working together and discussing challenges, she’s confident, “we can find solutions.”

For more from Abigail while she’s at the Forum, follow our Twitter feed at www.twitter.com/Camfed.


 

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