Fellows’ Flyer

September/October 2011

News and views for and by Princeton in Africa Fellows

Text Box: 				   In  this  Issue:

Frankie with PiAf Fellow Julie Kornfeld (‘11-‘12 LWF Uganda) ATVing in Jinja, the source of the Nile.

One of the defining characteristics of my fellowship has been working in the private sector. While a majority of expats in Africa work for traditional NGOs, non-profits and government agencies, I work for an infrastructure developer called eleQtra, which is a combination “electricity” and “transportation”. EleQtra is based in London with offices in New York; Accra, Ghana; Lusaka, Zambia; and, my current home, Kampala, Uganda. 

I have been assigned to work on a project in Uganda’s Kalangala District, located on the SSese Islands in Lake Victoria. Kalangala Infrastructure Services (KIS), the project company, is a wholly owned and operated subsidiary of eleQtra. KIS manages a multi-component infrastructure project consisting of the following:

             —The construction and operation of two new ferries, which will operate              between the mainland and Bugala Island.

             —The development and improvement of a 66km dirt road to a gravel road.

             —The construction of a solar power generation and distribution facility.

       —The installation of a water treatment and distribution system.

Infrastructure development requires managing various stakeholders with competing interests. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with government officials, including the head of the Electricity Regulatory Authority, to discuss various operating licenses and construction permits. I’ve worked with lenders to meet conditions necessary to drawdown loans for construction. I’ve spoken with members of the community who are the direct recipients of safe drinking water from our water treatment facilities on Lake Victoria.

The ferry we are developing, and which should be operational by the end of the year, replaces a dilapidated state owned ferry. A recent trip to Bugala Island in Kalangala highlights the current situation.

I was picked from my flat in Naguru, Kampala at 3:30AM by the company driver Robert and two of my colleagues, KIS’s Social and Environmental Officer and Finance Director. We drove two and a half hours up country to reach the shores of Lake Victoria at Bukakata, just in time for the scheduled 6AM departure of the day’s first ferry crossing. By the time the ferry was loaded and set off at 7AM, we were already an hour behind schedule. About forty meters from shore, both engines lost power and we were stranded on Lake Victoria with our car on the ferry. The crew set to work on one of the engines but lacked a sense of urgency. After nearly two and a half hours, one of the two engines was repaired and we eventually completed the journey across.

My hope is that by Christmas the people of Kalangala will enjoy access to a new ferry that operates more reliably and safely and completes the journey to Bugala Island in half the time of the current ferry. You can follow our progress at http://blog.frankiewarren.com/tagged/Africa.

Notes from the Field

Stephanie visiting a women’s co-op in Ségou

Stephanie at the wedding of her host sister from her college study abroad program in Bamako

Safe drinking water pumped from eleQtra’s water treatment facility on Lake Victoria

by Stephanie Rademeyer, ‘11-’12  Fellow at  Save the Children, Mali

Tel: 609.258.7215    Fax: 609.964.1818    piaf@princeton.edu

Mailing address: Post Office Box 226, Princeton, NJ 08542    Street address: 194 Nassau Street, Suite 219, Princeton, NJ 08542     

On Jane’s visit back to Ghana to visit her old host family and Princeton Engineers Without Borders team, she learned to carry a baby on her back while balancing a large object on her head like any good Ghanaian woman

During the past few years, I have toyed with the idea of working in international development. My studies at Middlebury College had left me a skeptic of aid, but I still ached to see what it was really all about. Princeton in Africa offered the chance of a lifetime to discover if I was made for this line of work: they offered me a position as a Program Assistant with Save the Children in Bamako, Mali. The past few months have been eye-opening, as I struggled to balance ideals and wants, Malian life and expatriate comforts.


I discovered a few weeks before moving that I had a distant cousin working with the UNDP in Mali. Next thing I knew, I became his roommate and biggest fan. Through him, I have attended dinners with the head of USAID, the Deputy Ambassador of the US, the Dutch and Norwegian Ambassadors, the Belgian Representative and a retired UN Under-Secretary General, accessing a world that I could never have tapped into back in the States. Contrary to the image of disenchanted aid workers, I have been amazed by their idealism and dedication. On the flip side, the expatriate lifestyle rarely involves spending time with Malians. It would appear that cultural differences are at play: Western etiquette dictates that a person should never impose him or herself on others, whereas Malians assume that you will come over with or without an invitation.


Through Save the Children, I have been able to have candid conversations about the difficulties in the aid industry, but also the perks and why people remain loyal to their company and field. And there are, indeed, many benefits. Malians are proud of their reputation as incredible hosts, and they live up to this image every day. I have to stop and greet everyone on my way to my office: we ask about each other's health, our family's health, how the night went and so on. Every time I use a new Bambara saying, Malians respond by clapping and cheering me on. I've also already been invited to two weddings; I was considered the guest of honor at the first, and remained by the bride's side the night before and during the ceremony. There are times where being a foreigner can be difficult, but Malians' overwhelming warmth and generosity improve even the hardest days. Sadly, the very things that make Mali wonderful sometimes hinder development. For instance, family values coupled with extreme poverty sometimes results in people stealing so that they can pay for their extended family's needs. A strong sense of nationalism means that Malians always come first, sometimes to the detriment of international policies that could spark growth.


I still don't know what I want to do with my life once this wonderful experience has ended. But my fellowship has ensured that by the end of the year, I will have a solid understanding of this incredibly complex industry that has fascinated me since adolescence and for that, I am incredibly grateful.

by Alicia LeClair ‘11-’12 EGG FoundationFellow at  mothers2mothersSouth Africa

Notes From The Field

Jane with new friends at Kinanda Fest, a monthly music festival held in Nairobi

Alicia celebrating the end of a conference with Stefano, the Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinator for Malawi

PiAf is Recruiting

For 2012-2013!

Princeton in Africa is now accepting applications. The deadline is Monday, November 21, 2011 and application information can be found on our website.

Know someone who’d be a great PiAf Fellow? As we recruit candidates for our 2012-2013 fellowship year, we need your help! Please tell your friends about PiAf and encourage them to apply. PiAf is looking to place the highest caliber of young leaders in Africa. We accept applications from graduating seniors and young alumni from any college or university in the U.S.


Prospective candidates should visit our Applicants page for more information.

Save The Date:  PiAf 2011 Benefit

‘11-12 IRC Senegal Fellows Janeen Madan and Isabel Pike with the DIongue family.  They were PiAf Fellow Mark Adams’ host family when he studied abroad in Senegal.

PiAf  Connections:  PiAf Fellows And Alums meet up  around Africa

PiAf’s ‘11-’12 Cape Town Fellows: Cydnee DeToy (m2m), Desiree Bailey (Equal Education), Janelle Morris (NeXii), Molly Schmalzbach (m2m), Jessica Annis (Ubuntu) and Alicia LeClair (m2m) with ‘10-’11 Fellow Byron Austin (m2m).

PiAf’s ‘11-‘12 Ghana Fellows (Niklas Peters, Olam) and Grace Hoerner (African Cashew Alliance, right) meet up with Jane Yang (IRC Kenya ‘11-’12) in Accra.

PiAf Fellows Elly Sukup (WFP Ethiopia, ‘11-‘12), Stephanie Rademeyer (Save the Children Mali, ‘11-‘12) and Becca Balis (IRC Liberia, ‘10-‘11) meet up in Bamako, Mali.

PiAf’s ’11-’12 Zambia Fellows Mark Adams (Kucetekela Foundation) and Erin Buchholtz (African Impact) get together in Lusaka.

Nyumbani Village Fellows Amanda Ramcharan (‘11-‘12) and Chris Courtin (‘10-‘11) show Jane Yang around their project sites.

Another beautiful Cape Town sunset

PiAf alum Alexis Okeowo (‘06-‘07) has recently been published in the New York Times. She wrote an article about the Miss Africa New York pageant that took place in New York City this summer. The article can be found here. Alexis is a writer for the New Yorker and has recently written articles about the independence of South Sudan, the famine in Somalia and other issues affecting the African continent. Some of Alexis’s New Yorker articles can be found here.


Alexis was a Princeton in Africa Fellow at New Vision, Uganda’s leading newspaper, and was able to get her career in journalism started there.


(Right: Agnes Kamara, from Sierra Leone, wore an outfit inspired by both Western and African fashion for the traditional dress segment of the Miss Africa New York competition. Photo courtesy Glenna Gordon, New York Times, City Room blog)

Notes from the Field

by Jane Yang, ‘11-’12 Fellow at  International Rescue Committee, Kenya

Princeton in Africa is very appreciative of our donors who individually sponsor fellowships. Donors like Dennis Keller, who is president of the Board of Directors of Mpala, have been a great support to us over the years by sponsoring Fellows. Dennis Keller has sponsored the PiAf Fellow at Mpala for the last three years.  He can be seen here at Mpala with two of the Fellows he has sponsored—outgoing Fellow Theresa Laverty (2010-11) and incoming Fellow Laura Budd (2011-12). PiAf Fellows are working hard to support research initiatives at Mpala.

If you have an organization you love and think that they would benefit from a smart, innovative, energetic (I’m not sure what the words should be) PiAf Fellow, sponsoring a Fellow at that organization is a great way to make an impact at the organization and on an individual’s life.  Please contact the PiAf office if you would like more information.





Donate Now to PiAf

You are cordially invited

to the presentation of


The Princeton in Africa Medal to

Lauren Bush

CEO, Creative Director & Co-Founder of FEED Projects


Thursday November 10, 2011

6pm cocktails

7:30 pm dinner and auction


The Desmond Tutu Center

180 10th Ave, New York


Featuring the sounds of Cocody Productions



RSVP by October 27th                Business Attire


www.princetoninafrica.org / piaf@princeton.edu / 609.258.7215


Dennis Keller:  Fellowship Sponsor

Gaborone, Botswana is not at all what I imagined when I accepted my PiAf fellowship with Baylor Bristol Myers-Squibb Children’s Center. First of all, I was pronouncing it wrong (it’s ha-bor-oh-nay, not gab-er-own). According to my Setswana tutor (who is, not shockingly around here, fluent in 6 languages!), all ‘G’s must be pronounced as if you are a lion growling.  There are three different clicks, two tonalities per vowel, and I’m just learning the eleven groupings of nouns!

Botswana surprises me in more significant ways, too. Having seen no other part of Africa but Mali, I expected Gaborone to be somewhat similar to Bamako. In small ways, the two are comparable: you always ask after someone’s health before getting to your point; their steadfast commitment to “Africa time” (there are even billboards about it here! “Africa time is great, but not for paying your taxes…”); the strict adherence to hierarchies, especially in business; the dust; the heat; the occasional cow on the highway or donkey blocking the road. But for all of those similarities, the cities are more different than they are alike. Economically, Botswana is doing relatively well, and Gaborone – built almost entirely after 1960 – offers almost every creature comfort you could want. Good restaurants, clean water, fresh vegetables, good roads, giant supermarkets, modern malls, movie theaters, sports cars… we basically have it all.

At first, I have to admit, I was a little disappointed that my life here was going to be so western and similar to life at home. But the more I discover of Botswana, the more I love it here, and the further I dig into its culture, the more of it I find to love. I have also learned once and for all that one cannot say “I am going to Africa” and think that that means anything at all, for Africa is many, many things, many people, many landscapes, many cultures, and they differ as much from each other as they do from the United States. So of my own, very personal experience here in my tiny corner of the continent, I can tell you what I know—

I know that I love working with teenagers, and that working in a pediatric HIV clinic is simultaneously heartbreaking and inspiring. I know that I want to go into medicine. I also know four Setswana gospel songs! (The clinic staff sings to the patients every morning in our version of a daily church service; it is the most beautiful, hopeful way to start the day.) I know that there is much, much more to this city and this country than its often-western exterior, and that I am looking forward to seeing the deeper layers. And finally, I know from personal experience that monkeys living on your roof will always, no matter how many times you remind yourself “it’s just the monkeys”, always sound like an intruder when they scamper right above your bedroom early in the morning.

I could not ask for a better place to be right now. I am surrounded by incredible people doing incredible things, in a city and a country worth every second of exploration I have to give it.

A day and a half after pulling into the Cape Town airport, I showed up at mothers2mothers’ doorstep, not knowing exactly what to expect. I thought that my first day of work may consist of a few introductions and some basic busy work to get me oriented, but within the hour I was diving head first into a weeklong conference for Monitoring and Evaluation Coordinators from around the continent. 

I have learned so much already that I find it hard to believe I’ve only been here for seven weeks. From the moment I arrived I have been engaged in a wide variety of important, substantive projects, ranging from the revision of site staff training curriculum to the development of a new database and reporting application. I’m thrilled to have recently joined the Mother-Baby Pair Tracking project, which works to ensure the return of HIV+ mothers to m2m sites. These return visits are vital as they provide the basic education and psycho-social support an HIV+ mother needs to prevent transmission to her children, to adhere to a personal health regimen, and to realize the potential her future still holds. At the end of the pilot, I will be conducting interviews with site staff in Khayelitsha, a nearby township, in order to gather their feedback and help develop a plan of action for the program’s future. I’ve been going on site visits to cultivate relationships with these incredibly strong and dynamic women, all of whom are HIV+ mothers who have already gone through the m2m program. Site visits are a sobering yet uplifting reminder of why we go to work every day. So many new mothers come to m2m with no hope, believing that they and their babies will inevitably die, but then exit the program with new knowledge, a healthy baby, and a long life ahead of them. The women I’ve spoken to in Khayelitsha fiercely believe in the power of the program, and manage to work every day with a smile on their faces, a laugh at the ready, and a helping hand extended. It doesn’t get much more inspirational than that.

Outside of work, I’ve been exploring the nooks and crannies of the city and taking short road trips into the surrounding areas with PiAF fellows and other friends. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever live in a more beautiful place than Cape Town. The warm sunshine that illuminates the crashing waves just blocks from my house simply cannot be beat – and yes, this is the dead of winter. A trip down to the Cape of Good Hope with fellow PiAfer Emily Kossow resulted in us stopping every 10 minutes to hop out of the car. Each time, without fail, our jaws hit the pavement. Our feeble attempts to string together superlative after superlative did little justice to the scenery in front of us. I cannot wait to continue exploring both work and South Africa, and to see what else this year has in store for me!









by Emily Kossow ‘11-’12 Fellow at  Baylor Bristol Myers-Squibb Children’s Center, Botswana

Notes From The Field

Most of Emily’s BIPAI team. From left: their Peer Educator, Adolescent Programme Project Assistant, Pediatric Nurse, Emily (also an Adolescent Programme Project Assistant), and the Adolescent Programme Project Coordinator

Emily and Duma, the cheetah at the Nature Reserve near Gaborone

Former Fellow Alexis Okeowo is Published

Notes from the Field

A typical question I get from my friends nowadays is, “What are you doing in Africa?” The simplest answer is: I am here in Nairobi working with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) Kenya program to gain valuable work experience. Thanks to Princeton in Africa, I have an incredible opportunity at the fresh age of 21 to work with a large, widely-recognized humanitarian NGO from a small but powerful office. Here, I have daily contact with senior management as well as colleagues across the global IRC network, from the field to the headquarters in New York and the UK, making valuable connections while learning about how such a massive organization can still operate nimbly. Along the way, my ability to coordinate with multiple teams spread out across several continents is tested. My method of prioritizing and juggling projects of varying subject matter and timelines is honed. And perhaps most important for a young professional, my tenacity and willingness to step out on a limb and seek opportunities that are completely new to me have sharpened tremendously.

Of course, the question remains as to why the IRC? After all, with a background in chemical & biological engineering, humanitarian aid isn't perhaps the most natural connection. Yet while I may or may not stay within the humanitarian sphere, the NGO community is small. The development community is even smaller, and I've no doubt that in the future, my experience with the IRC will easily bridge with my strong interest in sustainable engineering in development. For now, however, I have the benefit of learning about an entirely new facet of development and with each proposal and report that I review, I am eagerly soaking in new knowledge on public health, epidemiology, governance & accountability, gender-based violence, nutrition, emergency response, and more.

All work and no play, however, makes life rather dull. Luckily, I have another motive for coming to Kenya: travel. Like many people, I find traveling to be exhilarating. It is fascinating to learn about new cultures, to see new regions of the world. And what better time but now, when I have few responsibilities, is there to travel? It is my hope to do quite a bit of exploring on the continent this year. On the agenda: all around Kenya; Accra/Tema, Ghana; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Lusaka and Livingstone, Zambia; Kampala, Uganda; and Kigali, Rwanda. Having a community of PiAf fellows who are willing to serve as hosts is much appreciated.

A year from now, I will presumably be back in Washington, D.C., getting ready to begin what one perhaps would consider a more "traditional" job for a recent college graduate. Three or four years out, I envision myself back in school, pursuing a joint MBA/MPA/MPP. But for now (perhaps for the first time in my life), I am focusing on the present, rather than the future. What am I doing in Africa? All of the above.

by  Frankie Warren, ‘11-’12 Fellow at  eleQtra, Uganda

Jessie during her fellowship with Tanzanian Children’s Fund

I had no idea, in the fall of my senior year in college, that the decision I made to apply to Princeton in Africa would have such a profound impact on my life and career. I spent my fellowship year working at a local primary school in rural Tanzania with an incredible organization called the Tanzanian Children’s Fund (TCF). Over the course of my fellowship, I watched as TCF took an innovative, multi-pronged approach to improving the lives of marginalized children in the region. In addition to their core mission of providing a home for orphans, and my work at the school, TCF held bi-monthly free medical clinics, and established a micro-finance program. I saw first hand that there is no silver bullet when it comes to development work, but that education, access to healthcare, and economic empowerment are all critical elements in creating sustainable change.


My experience in Tanzania inspired me to pursue a Masters in Public Policy at the Kennedy School. I graduated this past June, and took a job with TechnoServe – an NGO dedicated to finding business solutions to poverty – in July. I am currently working as the strategy and business development coordinator with their Swaziland office. My scope of work, and day-to-day life, are totally different from my fellowship in Tanzania, but ultimate objective of finding impactful, sustainable, solutions to poverty is the same.

by Jessie Cronan, ‘07-’08 Fellow at the Tanzanian Children’s Fund, Tanzania

Update From PiAf Alumnus

For information about purchasing benefit tickets and Lauren Bush’s bio, click here.