Meet CAMFED Alum and Young African Leaders Fellow Abbigal Muleya
As a CAMFED Alum, I am so proud to write to you from Washington, D.C., where this summer I was chosen as a Mandela Washington Fellow under President Obama’s Young African Leadership Initiative (YALI).
This initiative encompassing 500 young people from across Sub-Saharan Africa will be transformative for all of us who strive to be change-makers in our communities.
Though I traveled a great distance to be here, I am inspired knowing that my greatest journey still lies ahead. I have come to appreciate that how far you have come can show you how far you can go. I think my story shows how true this is.
I grew up in the Binga District of northern Zimbabwe, a remote area that poses many challenges to families trying to rise out of poverty. My community has few opportunities for parents to earn a living, or for children to receive an education. Though I showed promise in primary school, my parents did not have the means for me to continue my studies further. I know this disappointed them.
Fortunately, I received CAMFED’s support for my secondary education at a boarding school. I took this opportunity very seriously, knowing that my education would equip me to help others. It would allow me to transform my society and confront inequalities that have plagued my country. By working hard, I excelled in my studies and I was the first girl child in the history of my secondary school to have an ‘A’ in mathematics – a subject most thought only boys could master! In fact, most of the girls and women in my community just need their immense capabilities and potential unlocked through education.
My interest in promoting marginalised communities grew further while studying African Languages and Culture at university. In 2009 I co-founded an organisation helping women achieve economic independence to ensure brighter futures for their children, particularly the young girls who have been left behind for far too long.
Through this work, we have trained women to create income-generating projects such as fishing, basket-making, vegetable farming and even eco-tourism endeavours. Women now have ownership of the assets they developed, and they have gained respect from their husbands and communities. From these successes, women have sent their children to school. Some have sent children through to advanced levels in education. I feel so good about this work! And now, my involvement with YALI will help me take these efforts even further and make me an even more effective advocate.
The chance to meet other young African leaders has been an inspiration. I have established networks with people working on similar goals, and met people who can help advance my cause. I have gained new skills in Monitoring & Evaluation, and enhanced my abilites to develop women empowerment programming. I’ve also sharpened my fund-raising skills, which will help build resources to reach more women. And I have learned how innovation and creativity can help address unemployment and poverty in my community.
It’s clear to me that so many women face challenges beyond obtaining an education. For many, finishing school still isn’t enough. This has reminded me being part of a network such as the CAMFED Association, CAMA, are so important. I’m grateful to be a part of this close-knit group of strong women who feed off of each other’s successes, and rise up together to face common challenges. And I’m honoured to participate in YALI, representing the 24,000 other CAMA members across Africa who are working hard every day to make things better for themselves, their families, their communities, and our Africa!
On behalf of all of them, I wish to thank all of CAMFED’s supporters and advocates. Thanks to you, the dreams you share with us are coming true – one girl at a time!
With Blessings & Gratitude,