A loan of $500 helped to purchase a laptop for his studies.

Jean Fernando's story

Jean Fernando, or “Fernando” as he is known, is a 17-year-old full-time student at African Leadership Academy (www.africanleadershipacademy.org) (ALA), a two-year pre-university program in Johannesburg, South Africa, with a mission to identify, develop, and connect Africa’s future leaders.

Fernando was selected as one of 95 ALA students out of a pool of over 3,000 applicants from across the continent for his passion for public service, his commitment to Africa, and his demonstrated leadership potential to lead change in Africa and beyond.

Fernando is applying for a loan of $500, which will enable him to purchase a laptop to help him conduct assignments and research, to run his community service project and/or student-run business which forms part of the ALA curriculum, and to participate fully in the world-class program offered by ALA.

Fernando comes from a family of seven in Mozambique. In 2009, right after he finished middle school, his family faced financial difficulties and could not afford to rent the land where his family usually grew rice for profit. In order to continue his schooling, Fernando had to move far away to a new town with his brother. They both supported themselves through high school by working on the weekend of pay for their school fees.

Passionate about the environment and conservation, Fernando has been very involved with the Malagasy Youth Network for the Environment (MYNE), through which he has been a key player in many projects to clean the town and protect the environment. He has even helped a well-known environmental researcher conduct research on carnivores in the protected rainforests of Maroantsetra, Madagascar. He is particularly passionate about environmental education for youth.

Fernando was one of two winners of the Environmental Prize for Maroantsetra Youth, which is an environmental leadership competition among over 200 students in Maroantsetra involving leadership, speech, and written examinations. In recognition of his dedication and leadership, he was invited to attend an environmental leadership camp around Madagascar with UNICEF and the Wildlife Conservation Society. A true embodiment of the value of tolerance and respect for diversity, Fernando shoes a great appreciation for cross cultural learning and understanding. To this end, in Madagascar, he hosted a cultural exchange radio show where he taught English language and offered information about other cultures.

In 20 years’ time, Fernando says that he wants to have worked to prevent environmental destruction. He aspires to establish a network of African Environmental Youth Associations and connect with other international environmental organizations so that he can have a positive impact on protecting biodiversity and preventing climate change.

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