Sheikh Abdullah Omar Mdala Managing Editor of Insight Magazine and contributor for Malawi Muslims Official Website has been selected to represent Malawi in this year’s international visitor leadership program, which is currently under way in the United States of America up to July 27, 2015.
International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) is the U.S. Department of State’s premier professional exchange program and this year’s theme is Tolerance and Interfaith Dialogue a Regional Project for Africa.
Information sourced from the U.S. Department of State’s website says that the IVLP program brings together a selection of professionals from various parts of the world with similar interests. Over a period of three weeks the group travels together to various points in the U.S. to meet and discuss with counterparts issues of mutual interest.
Each year nearly 5,000 exchange participants travel to the U.S. on the International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP). According to Cultural Affairs Assistant Limbani Chipembere, More than 200,000 International Visitors have engaged with Americans through the IVLP, including more than 335 current or former Chiefs of State or Heads of Government.
This year 10 participants from eight African countries are represented that include Benin, Burkina Faso, Mali, Malawi, Nigeria, Niger and Uganda. Sheikh Abdullah was recommended and selected by a panel of U.S. Embassy staff in Lilongwe due to his leadership potential and commitment for social integration.
The IVLP was launched in 1940, and it helps strengthen U.S. engagement with countries around the world including Malawi. The program cultivates lasting relationships by connecting current and emerging foreign leaders with their American counterparts through short-term visits to the United States of America.
When asked what the program will mean to him, Sheikh Abdullah said “I am so honored to be nominated to represent my country in this program, I hope it’s a pride not only for me and my family, rather it is a pride for my organisation that I work for and of course for the Malawi nation. I will be the only one carrying the Malawi flag; therefore it’s a pride for the country.”
This is not the first time Malawi has participated in this particular program, a number of Malawians from different backgrounds have also participated in similar programs in the past like the late Suleiman Matola of Radio Islam. However, he is the second person from Insight Magazine to benefit from U.S. funded programs after its former editor Marshall Dyton was also selected for Young African Leadership Initiative and is currently in the U.S pursuing the Mandela Washington Fellowship Program.