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Two years on: Joannes Paulus Yimbesalu

Two years on: Joannes Paulus Yimbesalu

Leading Change catches up with Queen's Young Leaders and asks them to reflect on their experiences

Joannes Paulus Yimbesalu co-founded Hope For Children Cameroon in 2011. The organisation provides educational assistance to children in poor communities, and builds toilets in schools to eliminate the practice of open defecation. This enables children – especially girls – to thrive and learn with dignity.

1. Looking back to the beginning of the Leading Change course, what are the significant developments in your work or education?

"Since becoming a Queens’ Young leader, I have had many speaking engagements – at schools and with other non-governmental organisations – been part of consultation meetings with civil society, and most importantly, I have received several travel scholarships for youth conferences.

"For example just recently, I was named to the Youth Advisory Group for the Canadian Commission for UNESCO.

"And I am one of the 75 young people selected from over 25,000 applicants across the world to attend the 2017 Yenching Global Symposium – one of China’s Academy’s flagship events on Xinnovation: Identity of Innovation in China.

"This is a four-day event consisting of multidisciplinary lectures, panel discussions, site visits, and interactive sessions on Chinese innovation."

2. Complete the sentence, "Two years on from becoming a Queen's Young Leader I realise that the programme..."

"...has greatly impacted my leadership and public speaking skills and, most importantly, many young people today in my country, Cameroon, continue to look towards me as their role model."

3. What was the highlight of your first year as a Queen’s Young Leaders Alumnus?

"Having a courtesy meeting with the Prime Minister of my country Cameroon, who wanted to know more about the programme and my projects in Cameroon.

"It was one of my best moments because it is always a huge challenge for young people to meet with government officials in their own country. And it was a privilege for me to have received a call from the Prime Minister to meet him in his office.

"His advice to me was 'Keep doing all the good work you can and remember to put service above self'."

4. What are you planning for 2017?

"For 2017, we are hoping to engage widows in rural communities in Cameroon – who often are marginalised in gardening – through our 'Garden By Widows' project.

"This will give them improved gardening skills which they can use to sustain their families and help keep their children in school and learning."