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by Flaviana Matata

When I was asked to visit African Leadership Academy (ALA) and CIDA City Campus I had no clue as to what to expect.  But the more I learnt about the schools the more exited and honored I got about the visit.  The two schools have the same goal, but structured differently but each with its own unique and amazing characteristics. The most important thing is that I am glad I am part of this unique and rewarding initiative. As a Diamond Empowerment Fund (DEF) Angel I will make sure the kids of Africa get the best education through DEF and other similar funds.

First I visited the ALA school…the visit was very relaxing and the students were excited to see me, but more importantly to see someone from DEF, which means the world to them.  I was received by Mr. Chris Bradford, the Chief Operating Officer and one of the founding members.  Together with Chris, there was a group of students from Tanzania…I must say, these young students are probably the most intelligent, well informed Tanzanian students I have ever met. The student took me on a school tour which gave me a unique opportunity to get their perspective of the school and experience.

ALA, as compared to CIDA, target student from age 16 through 21.  ALA would then prepare these students for top universities in the USA, the UK, and many other top universities in the world. I met students who have been accepted with full scholarships to Cornell, University of Pennsylvania, Bryn Mawr College, Stanford and some still waiting for responses from other top schools such as Harvard, Yale etc. This would have been an impossible dream for these students if it was not for ALA.

ALA only has a total of 189 students, but the target should be way more than that…may be 3,000 students in the next five years. This can only be possible if we are able to bring the awareness and show the world that this is possible.  Lets teach the new generation how to fish and not depend on handovers.  ALA you have my commitment and will spread the word out there.

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The following day I went to CIDA City Campus…CIDA is a university for those talented students who cannot afford the education.  CIDA would identify these students and encourage their unique talents.  For example I met a student who is good at photography and the school allowed him to develop that into a business within the school. This gives these students an opportunity to do what they are good at and developing them into businesses that they can perform competitively. Last year 82% of the graduating class got employed right after graduation.  This is a huge percentage considering the unemployment levels in Africa and worse the economic downturn currently affecting the world.

My discussion with Mr. Nesan Chetty, Senior Manager – Marketing, further explained the important role DEF is playing in changing the future of these young students and in-turn Africa.  He further highlighted some of the challenges CIDA is facing…the largest being the facility.  They are currently housed in an 8 storey leased bank building, with no sports facility.  They are in dire need of a new complex to give these talented students an experience like any other University.  Mr. Chetty explained that they have already located a piece of land and they are curr