As I attend the Quality Improvement Institute at the University of Wisconsin with Modestine Etoy, I am reminded of when she came to the US the first time in 2012 to attend the iLEAP fellowship. That experience was so valuable for her, helping her to understand effective leadership practices and also to reflect on her experiences working with women recovering from fistula repair surgery in Goma. She met others from around the world who were working to improve the lives and health of others. Through reflection and sharing, she developed a greater understanding of the depth and strength of the programs and principles of the work. The ability to connect with others from various cultures and stay in touch through social media has enabled the network of those working with women in Congo, Rwanda, and Kenya to flourish. Modestine learned the importance of taking time for herself and caring for those with whom she works. She gained insight into some of the culture of the “West”, including how much the reporting matters to people at this end. Her program for teen moms has helped hundreds of young women, who’d been ostracized and disrespected, re-enter their communities as confident and competent young women. From her experience at iLEAP, she was able to take stock of where they were, and plan for the next steps - She’s a champion!
The value of the iLEAP experience for Modestine has made us even more excited for this week’s arrival of Micheline Mwendike, who will attend iLEAP this fall! It will be a very important time for her. She’s young, she’s passionate, and she brings great experience to the fellowship. Micheline’s passion for improving Goma has led her to follow her convictions at all costs; she’s been beaten and jailed for advocating for cleaner air and more water for the people of Goma. She brings great knowledge of the context in North and South Kivu, including having visited the mining areas in eastern Congo. I look forward to watching her as she meets, works, learns and collaborates with other fellows from various cultures. This is an investment in a woman who has been and will continue to be a significant part of the change in Congo’s future.
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