Young Leaders Imagine No Malaria
By Shannon Trilli*
October 10, 2011—Developing leaders in Africa is a hallmark of Imagine No Malaria (INM). Henrietta Emmanuel is one of the young women who make up the backbone of the INM program team. Henrietta, of the Sierra Leone Annual Conference, managed the day-to-day logistics of the distribution of 400,000 mosquito nets in Sierra Leone in December 2010.
When I met her six years ago, Henrietta, a quiet, unassuming woman, was very nervous to speak in a public setting, and her voice was so quiet. In the six swift months it took the INM program team to implement a maternal-and-child health program in Sierra Leone, I saw an amazing transformation in Henrietta. No longer meek or shy, she confidently negotiated with local government officials and partners to ensure the district logistics plan was executed just right.
This past January, Henrietta stood in front of an intimidating committee of bishops, general secretaries, and representatives of the United Nations, and reported on the malaria program in Sierra Leone. She did not stammer. Henrietta spoke keenly of the challenges as well as the successes of our fight against malaria. Through Imagine No Malaria, Henrietta has grown into a strong leader, not just for her work, but for her church and as a citizen of Sierra Leone.
Another INM leader from Africa is Nyamah Dunbar. Nyamah was born in Liberia, but attended high school and college in the United States. After serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Benin (West Africa), Nyamah applied to UMCOR for the position of Health Board Program Coordinator for the Liberia Annual Conference. She served in this role for two years, before UMCOR invited her to join its Imagine No Malaria team in November 2010.
In her current role as Grants Program executive for INM, Nyamah oversees the review and administration of all INM grant proposals from Africa. In addition to supporting INM program implementation in Africa, she ensures that INM maintains a system of accountability and programmatic excellence there.
Nyamah is another example of a young leader from Africa who is standing up and stepping forward to shape the future of her continent.
We must continue to empower people like Henrietta and Nyamah with the tools and resources so greatly needed to reduce malaria deaths in Africa.
*Shannon Trilli is the director of UMCOR’s Malaria Inititaive unit.