East Canje, Berbice school dropout Mahendra Phagwah has been selected for a fellowship programme in the U.S. which is designed to help young persons become leaders in their communities.
The fellowship is called the Young Leaders Access Program and is run by the non-government organization – Miracle Corners of the World.
He is the only Guyanese amongst 50 other youths from around the world who was chosen for the program.
The initiative is for participants between the ages of 18 to 26, who are prepared to become leaders of positive change in their communities if given the opportunity, tools and skills needed to transform their passion into action.
The programme begins with a 10-day intensive summer retreat, with 50 youths selected from around the world and will be held in New York City, New York and Burlington, Vermont from Tuesday, July 23 to Thursday, August 1, 2019.
At the retreat, participants gain inspiration and insights from case studies presented by leaders in academia, civil society, development, and business through a series of workshops, discussions and experiential learning.
Graduates are then eligible to apply for the Alumni Ventures Fund grant.
Born to parents with disabilities, Mahendra said his mother and father both worked as domestics. With the limited income, he dropped out of school to work and help with expenses, however, he later completed secondary school.
Mahendra told News Room he realized that he wasn’t the only person going through situations like his and so he decided to do something about it.
“In order to be selected for this programme, I had to conduct an extensive survey and research on [school dropouts] and there are so many youths out there that have dropped out for…many reasons but nobody is there to voice their concerns,” Mahendra said.
Mahendra said while the focus is placed on issues like suicide, drug abuse, and dysfunctional homes, the root causes of such social problems must be addressed.
He has been doing volunteer work in his community for some time now, including helping to organize feeding programmes for children, caring for the elderly and suicide prevention.
Mahendra hopes that in the future he can work on government programmes to end school dropouts.