Impact Stories & Blogs

Our team share their insights and perspectives on the impact our program is having on youth in East and Central Africa.

Melatwork Tibebu Mengesha, Ethiopia, Cohort 33, Public Management 


Her cry filled the room when she was born announcing her arrival to the World. Piercing and yet a golden moment. Her mother named her Melatwork Tibebu. Worq means gold in Amharic but she prefers to spell it as Work because of her love for work hence Melatwork.

Melatwork has a presence. Not intimidating, but one where you want to know who she is. She has a welcoming demeanour about her which comes in handy in her day to day activities. When we arrived at the Col. John C. Robinson American Center located at the National Archives and Library Agency (NALA), we had a worthy surprise. It was Black History Month and in commemoration artistes had done some amazing artwork in honour of Col. Robinson. He was an African American military pilot who assisted Ethiopia in World War II and helped with the founding of its national airline.

 After appreciating the talent that is in Ethiopia, we sat down with Melatwork to hear more about her project #WhatNext and about herself. She holds a BSc degree in Medical Laboratory Science and MSc in Clinical Laboratory Science, Hematology and Immunohematology track. She is also a 3rd year PhD student at Aklilu Lemma Institute of Pathobiology, Addis Ababa University. She has been working at Addis Ababa University since 2012 as a Lecturer at the Department of Medical Laboratory Science, Hematology and Immunohematology track. She has worked as the chairperson for the Department Research Ethics and Review Committee as well as the Coordinator of the Extension Program. Besides her regular teaching job, she acts as a Research Advisor for undergraduate students and co-advisor for postgraduate students enrolled in regular and extension program.

 “I heard about YALI RLC EA on Facebook. My desire to attend the program was ignited after my friend Gelila Biresaw became alumni of the program. My experience at YALI RLC EA was very unique. As a health professional in academia, I am always focused on my clients or my students and often forget about myself. YALI RLC EA gave me skills to be more effective in my personal and professional life. The experience totally invigorated me in ways I never thought possible.”

She continued to explain, “The curriculum, the delivery, the interaction with other formidable young women and men from 14 other East African countries, the exercises and the facilitators, were all powerful and unforgettable. Starting from the personality tests. I learned how to take advantage of my strengths, acknowledge my weaknesses and work on the ones I could change and accept the ones I couldn’t.

Diversity in the program taught me to be kind, open and understanding. The five public management modules helped me focus on my personal mission in providing quality higher level education and health care for everyone. It gave me great insight about global leadership and stakeholder engagement.”

 After YALI RLC EA, she came up with #WhatNext. It is a women empowerment and mentorship program with the objective to give young women the knowledge, skills and attitude which will enable them to succeed in their professional and personal life. It enables them to be a pillar in their community by developing their leadership skills. The sessions are carried out over a five-month period, twice a month in the two American Spaces (the other is based at the American Embassy). The curriculum is like that of YALI RLC EA’s with added trainings in soft skills, scholarship application tips, relationship talk, reproductive health, mental health, personal branding and experience sharing from successful women.

 The program also has a book club which improves their reading habits as well as their self-development skills. There is a private Telegram group with over 380 members where links to scholarships, job opportunities and important upcoming events are regularly shared. “In general, my mentorship program is created to uplift and empower young women to take their rightful seat at the big table. I also work with YALI RLC EA alumni to offer mentorship”.

Melatwork started the program with five girls but more girls started to show up and 36 girls earned their certificates in the first cycle. The second cycle launched in February this year has 65 girls signed up which proves that young women are eager to learn how to be effective and maximize their potential.

 “It is a privilege to be a YALI RLC EA alumna. It is a huge responsibility that I don’t take lightly. I want more women to follow my lead in inhabiting confidence, pursue higher level education, be able to sustain and repeat their success both in their personal and professional life. My dream is to work for the World Health Organization; training professionals, developing guidelines, creating, improving and influencing policy which will improve both the health care and education sector. I will also work to expand #WhatNext all over Ethiopia and eventually Africa.

Sunday, 11 October 2020, 7:30 AM