Ever the shy child, Mmekidmfon Umanah struggled to keep up with his classmates in Akwa Ibom, Nigeria.
“I did poorly throughout primary school,” Mmekidmfon says. “I was told I couldn’t read a clock until I was 10 years old.”
Mmekidmfon’s respite from the challenges of the classroom always came at the end of the week.
“Sundays were perfect days for me,” he says. “My mum would make us white soup with pounded yams after church. It was always a day I looked forward to.”
Mmekidmfon, now the founder of Aimcare NG and executive director of WaterEase Africa, is advocating for public health services and access to clean water across the state.
“In my work, I strive to improve the health, hygiene and well-being of women, children and infants, especially those at the base of the pyramid.”
Mmekidmfon decided in July 2017 to host his first YALILearns session on menstrual health in a presentation based loosely on his work.
“The future of Africa will be determined by her young people,” Mmekidmfon says. “A lot of young Africans are changing the narrative through their work across the continent. It’s that can-do spirit that inspires me.”
For those looking to host a session of their own, Mmekidmfon stresses the importance of focusing on the most pressing issues in society.
“Be sure that your session is actually solving a problem or addressing a need,” Mmekidmfon says. “Then go for it. There’s a lot to learn and a lot to be proud of when hosting a YALILearns session.”
As he sees it, it’s up to young leaders to advocate for change in their communities, setting the stage for a better, brighter future.
“I went from a struggling young boy to owning and running three successful organizations,” Mmekidmfon says.
“Anyone anywhere can be whatever they want to be in life if they put in the work and believe in themselves.”
What he wants to be is someone “who gives people across Africa the opportunity to lead a better life.”
“That’s a perfect world: one where everyone has the chance to be the best version of themselves.”
Find out how you can lead your own session on our YALILearns page.