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Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders 2019 : Young Mauritian professionals on a transformative journey 

The selected Mandela Washington 2019 fellows in a souvenir picture with US Ambassador.

The names of the Mandela Washintgton Fellows for the year 2019 were revealed on Wednesday at McCarty House, in Vacoas, by the Ambassador David Reimer. For this year’s edition, Virginie Lagaillarde, Denagaren Ramasawmy. Djemillah Mourade-Peerbux, Ishanee Ghanchian, Loveena Sungkur, Yuckmila Chooneea, Pallavi Maruthan and Tania Salmine will represent Mauritius in USA. 

The Fellowship will take place from June 19th to July 27th and will culminate with the Mandela Washington Fellowship Summit in Washington, D.C. July 29th to August 1st. One Mauritian has also been selected for the Professional Development Experience, from August 5th to August 30th. The opportunities for networking and training don’t stop when the Fellowship ends. The Fellows from the previous years have made great use of the resources available to them.  They have participated in mentoring programs, regional conferences, and professional development experiences.  

The Ambassador Reimer revealed that over 120 Mauritian and 40 Seychellois graduated from the Regional Leadership Center in Pretoria. “You represent the ambition, potential, and skill of the youth of Mauritius and Seychelles. You are embarking on a life-changing journey.  A journey where you will learn to hone your skills in business and entrepreneurship, civic leadership and public management.” 


Axelle Lagaillarde : “Aims at creating a space for women artisans” 

The young lady is currently participating in the vision of developing 3 million ethical and entrepreneurial leaders for Africa and the world by 2035 at the African Leadership University (ALU).  Brought up and educated in Mauritius, Madagascar, and Rwanda, Axelle’s exposure to the African continent has ignited a passion to showcase artisanal African products through women’s empowerment.  Upon completing the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Axelle aims at creating a space for women artisans to harness their skills and promote Malagasy’s crafts through her social enterprise Nofy (translating to ‘Dream’ in Malagasy). She will be at Lehigh University under the track Leadership in Business. 

Denagaren Ramasawmy: “Intends to influence national policy” 

Denagaren Ramasawmy has over five years of working experience at the investment promotion agency of Mauritius where he has been mainly involved in licensing, investment promotion, and business facilitation.  Denagaren is a member of the Junior Chamber International Beau Bassin / Rose Hill, where he has held various positions and has been involved on different projects.    Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Denagaren intends to influence national policy in favour of business-friendly reforms and measures to further position Mauritius as an investment destination of choice. He will be at Georgia State University for the field leadership in Public Management.

Djemillah Mourade Peerbux: “Set up a sanitary pad-manufacturing unit” 

Djemillah Mourade Peerbux has twelve years of experience as a news editor.  She is currently working as a News Editor at the Mauritius Broadcasting Corporation.  She founded, in 2016, The Ripple Project, a community-led initiative to address the issue of period poverty in Mauritius.  Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she intends to set up in Mauritius a sanitary pad-manufacturing unit run by women from low-income backgrounds to provide a more environmentally friendly sanitary pad made of natural fibers.  She is also the founder of The Strawz, a small enterprise that provides handmade bamboo straws, cups, and coconut fiber brushes as sustainable alternatives to plastic. Djemillah has been selected for the Mandela Washington Fellowship Professional Development Experience.  She has been chosen for the track of leadership in Business and will be at the University of Notre Dame.

Ishanee Ghanchian: “Hopes to bring a corruption free public sector” 

Ishanee Ghanchian has three years of working experience in the Banking Sector and the International Law Group and 10 years as Investigator in the Corruption Investigation Division of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Mauritius. She is equally a member of the International Association of Prosecutors (IAP) since 2018. Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship 2019, Ishanee, through ICAC Mauritius, aims to tackle and continue her work in the investigation field and hopes to witness a corruption-free public sector in Mauritius with also a focus on the fight against drugs in her country. She will attend the Syracuse University under the Leadership in Public Management track.

Yuckmila Chooneea: “Committed to protect the agricultural economy”  

Yuckmila Chooneea has over nine years of experience in the government sector.  Currently posted at the National Plant Protection Office, she is committed to protect her country’s agricultural economy and natural resources from introduction, establishment, and spread of exotic pests as per provisions of the Plant Protection Act 2006, to help towards plant health improvement and to facilitate export certification of plant and plant products for safe global trade of agricultural commodities as per the country obligations under international trade agreements.  She will be at the UC Davis for the Public Management track.

Pallavi Maruthan: “Envisions to open a centre for the youth” 

She is the Founder and Owner of Zilwa Handmade Accessories, a handmade bag making and home decorating accessories enterprise in Mauritius.  She is also passionate about helping women and girls from low-income families.  Through Zilwa Handmade Accessories, Pallavi creates job opportunities and training for disadvantaged women and girls to help them develop their skills and earn a good living.  Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Pallavi plans to continue her work on community development and envisions opening a centre for youth, which will be committed to educating, engaging, and equipping the next generation of leaders and entrepreneurs. She will be at the University of Texas at Austin under the track Leadership in Business.

Tania Salmine: “At heart the rehabilitation of person with disabilities” 

She is a full-time educator at Lizie Dan La Main, Union des Aveugles de l’Ile Maurice and has at heart the rehabilitation of person with disabilities.  She has been working with them over the past 10 years.  Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Tania plans to develop applications, which will assess accessibility of each building in Mauritius (in terms of ramps, audio description for blind). She wants to acquire enough knowledge and materials, which will help her in building a Mauritius focusing on impaired persons living their lives to the fullest. She will be at the University of Georgia under the Leadership in Civic Engagement track.

Loveena Sungkur: “Achieving sustainable development goals for Mauritius”

Loveena Sungkur works at National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in Mauritius.  She holds a degree in Law and Criminal Justice from the University of Mauritius.  She regularly delivers talks with different target groups in Women Empowerment Centers, Elderly Day Care Centers, Youth Centers, Citizens Advice Bureaus, and schools across Mauritius and Rodrigues to sensitize the public on the human rights of vulnerable groups including women, children, elderly persons, LGBTIA persons, and people living with disabilities.  Upon completion of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, she intends to use the skills, expertise, and networks acquired to implement viable projects in her community by working hand in hand with fellow participants and collaborating with African fellow participants towards achieving sustainable development goals for Mauritius. She will be at the Drexel University under the track Leadership in Civic Engagement.

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