BreakingNews 27/3/16 - Tessie Udegboka Speaks On How She Walked A Dream To Receive Invitation To President Obama U.S. African Leadership Initiative

[ Masterweb Reports ] - Tessie Nkechi Udegboka is the Executive Director of Whispering Hope Africa Initiative (WHAI) – a nonprofit organization that caters for poor women and people living with HIV (PLHIV), among other endeavours. Masterweb reporters on learning of Tessie Nkechi Udegboka’s selection as one of the participants in President Barrack Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI),  met her at her Obosi, Anambra State base for a chat. Below is her story on the YALI:


It started in 2013 when I came across the YALI, Young African Leaders Initiative launched by President Barrack Obama. I went online, studied the initiative and application details, and then started working on the application questions. It took me not less than 11 days and some sleepless nights to complete and put finishing touches to my application. I submitted my application with the track on Civic Leadership focusing on my non-profit project activities.

My hope was high; I was counting days and hallucinating of been selected unlike my typical self, when I submit applications or proposals, I forget about them. Six months gone; I was neither shortlisted as a semi-finalist nor the finalist. It was highly disappointing and frustrating considering the number of days and sleepless nights it took me to work on the application.

In 2014, YALI announced its application opening again. Taking into account the bulk of work I have at hand then, the wakeful nights to work on the application which at the end won’t be shortlisted, I refused to apply. I shared the application links on the social media and encouraged every qualified youth on my network to apply. Though I didn’t apply in 2014, I followed and celebrated those who were selected.

In 2015, the US government announced the opening of Mandela Washington Fellowship (MWF) application submission. I hurriedly shared the link to my email contacts and on social media pages and encouraged youths to apply. Three youths on my network list did apply. They sent me their application draft for editing. Despite my busy schedule, I made out time, over two weeks to work on and edited their application answers. Though discovered they didn’t meet up with the years of experience required, I didn’t discourage them, rather was happy they attempted to apply.

From editing three people’s applications, I started getting inspirations, the track to go for and ideas on how to apply for mine. The deadline was fast approaching, yet I haven’t started the application process, rather was busy putting finishing touches to other persons application. A fellow Tech Camper and lecturer at Olabisi Olabanjo University (OOU), Ogbomoso, Akande Noah commented on the YALI application link shared on my timeline. He said the program is for me, hoping that I had applied. I replied not yet, that he should apply first.

Three days to the deadline, I started answering the essay questions that required deep thoughts and brain storming. I changed from Civic Leadership to Business and Entrepreneurship track. For 3 consecutive days, I worked on my application; got fresh new ideas daily on how best to answer the essay questions. Each day I see a new meaning to the same question and kept re-writing as the inspiration comes. So please do not be straight jacketed in answering such questions. I finally submitted few minutes before the application portal closed.

Typically, I do not submit/apply for opportunities and put my mind on them. I got engaged with the numerous other projects, activities and writing facing me and forgot about everything about YALI.

One certain Tuesday afternoon while at work with my staff, an SMS came in with an unknown MTN; “You are invited for an interview … ” I laughed and told my staff “see 419 message". I immediately deleted the message, admonishing them to be wary of such fraudulent messages inviting people for job interviews. There was MWF on the text but can’t figure out what it meant.


I’m a known unbeliever of dreams. Close friends and family know I don’t believe or act based on my dreams. I do dream but trash them immediately I get up from bed whether good or bad, I don’t bother praying over a dream I had. None of my dreams has come to fruition ,thus never put my mind on any.

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