Solving the world's biggest problems starts with one idea, by one individual, in one community. And those leaders must be equipped with new knowledge, resources, and networks in order for their ideas to thrive.
The State Department's Community Solutions Program is in its second year and empowers community leaders with the tools and skills to change the world. For the past four months, 58 young professionals from 28 countries participated in a fellowship at U.S. community-based non-profits, government offices, or legislative bodies to see how American institutions address complex challenges.
Community Solutions Fellows worked with American community leaders to enhance their practical expertise, leadership skills and professional contacts to address societal issues in their home communities. The Fellows work in the fields of tolerance and conflict resolution, transparency and accountability, as well as environmental issues and women's issues.
One of the young leaders, Smrita Khadka, started Asha Nepal, a hostel for children of trafficking survivors that also educates young girls about human trafficking. After completing the Community Solutions Program, Khadka wants to break the cycle of discrimination, illiteracy, and poverty experienced by the children of human trafficking survivors through education.
Alex Lawoko from Uganda is another Community Solutions Fellows, and works as a chairperson with the Gulu Deaf Association. After two decades of war, persons with disabilities in Uganda are facing a grave economic environment, impacted by poverty and unemployment. Following the Community Solutions Program, Lawoko plans to economically empower deaf women and men for self reliance by providing seed capital in the form of materials and training.
As Secretary Clinton has said, "Societies move forward when the citizens that make up these groups are empowered to transform common interests into common actions that serve the common good." Community Solutions exists to teach the Fellows best practices, common challenges, and how to best serve their community in an increasingly globalized world.
Collectively, people who participate in programs like this always leave a truly remarkable impact. By forming personal networks with peers from all over the world these networks can -- and will -- create a better future, one idea and person at a time.
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