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YALIVoices: How Education and Volunteering Can Benefit a Community
June 29, 2023

Abdel-Samad stands in front of a backdrop that reads "Alumni Symposium"
Abdel-Samad Issifou at the Mandela Washington Fellowship Alumni Symposium.

A guest blog by Abdel-Samad Issifou

My name is Abdel-Samad Issifou, and I am an English language teacher, 2021 Mandela Washington Fellowship alum, and YALI Network member from Kara, Togo. With over ten years of experience as a teacher and activist for sustainable development, I have volunteered and occupied leadership positions with various civic organizations because I believe in the power of volunteerism as a way to strengthen communities. 

Empowering Youth in Togo Through Education

I became interested in supporting youth empowerment, particularly for girls and women in my community, when I started taking YALI Network online courses. Seeing all the available resources, I deemed it necessary to share these experiences with my friends, colleagues, community members, and most importantly, with my students. Valuable lessons start in school, and by me being a teacher, YALI Network courses are one of the best opportunities for me to empower and exchange knowledge with my students. As a staff member of The Togolese English Teachers’ Organization (TETO), I organize English club competitions on topics like peace and tolerance, gender-based violence, climate change, biodiversity, and the environment.

Abdel-Samad (left) stands with young children outside of a school compound with brooms and a basket for their volunteer cleaning initiative.
Abdel-Samad (left) cleans the school compound with members of the English club as a volunteer initiative.

As the co-host of the English language learning radio program entitled “English Today,” I invite youth to express themselves and take leadership development steps. I also advocate for youth empowerment and girls’ education by taking girls to [professional development] camps organized by other Mandela Washington Fellowship alumni in other towns of Togo. I educate youth and my Togolese community to show them how important they are for their communities’ development and their self-empowerment.

Girls learning on computers about robotics.
The girls’ robotic camp in Lomé, Togo.

The Importance of Volunteering

Volunteering is a chance for you to give back and results in a thriving community. Volunteering also opens the opportunity to meet and learn from people and gain new experiences. As the Vice President of the Volunteers Blood Donors’ Association and the Coach of Club 25, my volunteer efforts focus on community health initiatives such as responsible blood donation and health care. As a first-aid Togolese Red Cross Association volunteer, I facilitate YALILearns leadership events using YALI Network resources like the Servant Leadership facilitation guide with my colleagues. 

Are you interested in learning more about Abdel-Samad’s work? Connect with him on LinkedIn

Are you ready to create change in your community by volunteering? Visit our YALIServes page to explore resources to help you build your skills as a servant leader.