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Country of the Week: Seychelles
February 9, 2017

People gathered around a table and smiling (Courtesy photo)
People gathered around a table and smiling (Courtesy photo)

Seychelles, an archipelago of 115 islands situated 1,500 kilometers east of mainland Africa in the Indian Ocean, is blessed with beautiful beaches, mountain rainforests, and a modern society that blends the many immigrant cultures that have made the islands their home since the 1700s. Yet, despite all this diversity, the picturesque nation is the smallest in Africa!

However, young people from Seychelles don’t let their country’s small size stop them from making a big impact. By joining the Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Network, Seychellois youth have joined forces with over 400,000 young leaders across Sub-Saharan Africa to make a difference on the issues that matter to them most, such as climate change, civic engagement, and the rights of women and girls. That’s why Seychelles is this week’s YALI Network #CountryoftheWeek!

Read more to learn how the YALI Network has helped one Seychelloise bring together young leaders from across Africa, and use the form on this page to join them!

This week’s featured member, Anael Bodwell, lives in Seychelles’ capital, Victoria. Anael is an alum of the Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF), the flagship YALI program that helps outstanding young leaders from Sub-Saharan Africa hone their skills at a U.S. college or university through academic coursework, leadership training, and networking.

After returning from her fellowship experience, Anael was eager to connect with other MWF and YALI Regional Leadership Center alumni to begin tackling the issues that matter most in her country — so she hosted a meeting in September 2016. “I started with a committee of just six people,” she says (pictured).

Under her leadership, the committee planned an expanded reunion “of all beneficiaries of U.S. programs in Seychelles,” she says. “The event took place in November 2016 and was attended by [a] U.S. Embassy official from Mauritius.”

“The reunion served to reconnect older members to new ones, as well as to strengthen the network,” Anael says. “Some of the resolutions established during the meeting were to increase the visibility of islanders throughout the YALI Network and to facilitate exchanges between ‘islanders’ and ‘inlanders.’” She says, “I personally introduced a regional concept… in partnership with YALI alumni of the Indian Ocean to organize the first ever Regional Business Innovation Forum.” Anael’s hard work has also secured the support of several local non-governmental organizations, including the Seychelles National Youth Council.

Are you a young leader in Seychelles? Join Anael and YALI Network members like her by signing up using the form on this page. You’ll receive email updates, opportunities to collaborate with other young leaders across Sub-Saharan Africa, and access to helpful products and programs such as YALI Network Online Courses and #YALILearns events!