One year ago today, we launched The African Middle Eastern Leadership Project (AMEL) out of Washington D.C. In the presence of Members of Congress, civil society leaders and young professionals, we announced our mission, vision and approach. We vowed to empower young African and Middle Eastern leaders at home and here in the United States, and to bring fresh, native perspectives to the halls of power - from Capitol Hill to the Board Rooms of Silicon Valley, and to add the voice of young activists from the MEA region to the public discourse, to help reshape the narratives about Africans, Middle Easterners, minorities, immigrants and refugees.
A year later, we have created innovative programs and models for strategically impacting human rights and democracy landscapes today and for decades to come. We've prepared some highlight videos, and posted examples of our work in the 2017 Annual Report and news articles, but progress can be summed up as follows.
- Building upon the momentum, experiences and lessons learned from the speaking tours of AMEL President Mohamed Abubakr, our first program, the AMEL Speakers Bureau, has been created in response to rising divisions on campuses and in communities across the United States.
- The AMEL Speakers Bureau has already trained incredible changemakers from Cameroon, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Ghana and Syria in public speaking and begun deploying them to tell their stories of bridge-building to diverse audiences across the North Eastern region of the U.S.
- We are gearing up to train a second group of AMEL Speakers and to expand deployment across the United States.
- We are also building a customized online training program covering topics such as genocide prevention, Holocaust education, activism safety and leading effective campaigns for human rights activists on the ground throughout the Middle East and Africa. The AMEL Institute will kick off later this year and will equip hundreds of activists with the practical skills they need to take their work to the next level in places where it is needed the most.
- Through our Nexus program we are continually connecting MEA changemakers and diaspora with each other, with their American peers, with policymakers and with influencers and multipliers so that they can discuss and impact critical issues - from policies affecting MEA countries, to campaigns for human rights and initiatives to help those facing persecution.
- We are also developing an Incubator program to mentor activists who are developing new approaches to issues such as racism and hate, hunger and poverty, diaspora re-engagement, empowerment of women in Peace & Security, and Muslim-Jewish relations.
We look forward to another great year elevating the voices and initiatives of courageous activists from across the Middle East and Africa, so stay tuned and get involved!