As a way to promote the incredible work our Host Organizations are doing and to spread the word of the substantial impact Atlas Corps Fellows has on their teams, we want to share the story of Advocates for Youth and their experience with Atlas Corps Fellow Pearl (Class 42, Uganda).

Host Organization: Advocates for Youth

Advocates for Youth is a nonprofit organization that educates and empowers young people across the globe on reproductive and sexual health rights and justice.

Fellow Supervisor: Nicole Cheetham

At Atlas Corps, we have a tradition of stating our “Five Facts” when introducing ourselves to new people. What are your five facts?

Name: Nicole Cheetham

Hometown: Washington, D.C.

Role at Organization: International Youth Health and Rights Director

Social Issue/Interest Area: Sexual and reproductive health and rights

Fun fact: I’m drawn to glass and enjoy breaking and painting bottles.

Why did you decide to host an Atlas Corps Fellow?

Advocates for Youth (Advocates) has had the pleasure of hosting an Atlas Corps Fellow previously and have since then been very impressed with the program. We really appreciate the opportunity to work with and support young professionals from around the world.

Why did you choose Pearl as your Atlas Corps Fellow?

Because she’s AMAZING! Upon interviewing Pearl, it was pretty apparent that her passions were in line with our mission and international work, that she would bring needed expertise to our team and we could build on her interests and career goals, and that she would be a joy to work with.

How has Pearl contributed to your team? How has her presence had an impact on your team’s dynamic?

Pearl is a great team player who has contributed substantially to our team in both the work that she manages and delivers and in how she demonstrates leadership, cooperation, and kindness. Her presence at Advocates is like a positive force of sunshine; she has positively impacted our team with her critical thinking, innovative ideas, dedication, and enthusiasm.

How will your Fellow’s contributions and insights impact your organization in the long run?

The practices that Pearl tests and puts in place while running our AMAZE Africa social media platforms, which provide information and spotlight AMAZE sexuality education videos for adolescents, will definitely endure well beyond her Fellowship. Additionally, her contributions to our global partnerships (such as developing tools, reviewing materials, and considering our strategies) not only inform our partners’ work but also provide technical support. Lastly in a broader sense, Pearl’s presence is impactful at Advocates because she brings new perspectives and experiences to our organizational family, of which the staff appreciates and can benefit from.

What has Pearl taught you? Have you learned anything special about her culture?

I’ve learned a lot from Pearl, such as how to gain a better understanding of social media communications and challenges, how to appreciate new ideas and honest reflection on goals, processes, and monitoring, and lastly, how to measure success.

Fellow: Pearl (Class 42, Uganda)

At Atlas Corps, we have a tradition of stating our “Five Facts” when introducing ourselves to new people. What are your five facts?

Name: Pearl Gahwera

Hometown: Masindi, Uganda

Role at Organization: AMAZE International Global Partnerships Fellow

Social Issue/Interest Area: Gender Equity

Fun fact: I am a nervous traveler and believe me, it’s nowhere near close to what you see in the movies.

What is your role at your Host Organization?

At Advocates For Youth, I promote AMAZE’s international expansion through collaborating with nonprofit organizations, youth-centred groups, and government agencies. My role revolves around building and maintaining partnerships with organizations in sub-Saharan Africa for them to incorporate AMAZE videos into their existing programming, adapt existing videos for their context, and create new videos. I also manage content on digital platforms, like Facebook and Youtube, that highlights the resources that are available in the region.

AMAZE is an initiative led by Advocates for Youth and Youth Tech Health, that provides very young adolescents with medically accurate, age-appropriate, affirming, and honest sexuality education. 

How is your experience with your Host Organization impacting your perspective? 

Like many organizations, Advocates For Youth has many moving parts that make it possible to achieve its goals. Coming from a local homegrown nonprofit organization where we need to wear multiple hats in order to achieve the bottom line and appreciate the fact that we are all doing the best we can given our circumstances, it is a humbling experience to be a part of a team that is well resourced.

By resources, I mean when organizations can adequately adapt to accommodate the changing needs of employees in life-changing situations like global pandemics because their teams are well-staffed, their budgets get approved, and their employees can have time off as needed.

This helped refine my thinking on the potential next steps for my career journey which, in a world where we are all trying to figure it out, is a big win. Advocates For Youth has shown me the true value of teamwork and how it can be leveraged to do incredible and impactful work. It’s an honor to be a part of such an amazing team!

How has your experience with your supervisor impacted your perspective? 

My supervisor, Nicole, is the best supervisor that I could ever ask for! I can clearly see in her the kind of leader that I want to be. She has been very helpful in reaffirming my confidence in my expertise and the value that I bring to the table. I have learned a lot from her extensive expertise. She taught me how to be more conscious about messaging, which was something that I thought I already knew until I did it in a different area (which in my case was sexuality education). I also continue to learn from her more about sexual and reproductive health and rights.

Our interactions are always enriching and this experience will stay with me for years to come. Thank you Nicole for everything!

How will you build upon the skills and knowledge gained during your Fellowship once you return to your home country?

My Fellowship, which gave me the opportunity to work with organizations outside of Uganda, has expanded my expertise. I plan to use this experience to develop and contribute to solutions that will address challenges across sub-Saharan Africa and Africa in general. I will use the skills, knowledge, expertise, and networks that I have acquired and built during the Fellowship to pivot into the next phase of my social impact journey.

I am at a loss for words at how grateful I am to both the Atlas Corps team and the Advocates For Youth team for continuing to hold my hand.

In my mother tongue, I say mwebare munonga which loosely translates to thank you.

More about Atlas Corps

Atlas Corps partners with mission-driven organizations (nonprofit, private, and government) to facilitate a professional exchange program for the world’s best emerging social change leaders to live and serve in the United States for a 12-month Fellowship. The Atlas Corps network currently includes more than 1,100 professionals from 110 countries who have served at 300 organizations.

Interested in becoming a Host Organization for an Atlas Corps Fellow? Fill out Host Interest Form.

Photos from Advocates for Youth’s archive