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Monday, November 28, 2016


Ex-Beauty Queen, Matilda Kerry was one of the young Nigerians selected by the Unites States Government to participate in the 2016 Mandela Fellowship. It was indeed a life changing experience for her.  In this interview with BOLA AKINBOADE-BELLO,  she opens up on her experience at the 3 months internship programme , her meeting with President Barracks Obama; plus what we should expect from her soon. Enjoy it!

BA: How was your experience at the recently concluded Mandela
Fellowship in the US?
MK:  I would describe it as extremely intense.  It was a lot of work but also very exciting as every day was a different experience.  We had to
keep to an intensive schedule for our academic work during the day, but also did a lot of networking in the late afternoons and evenings. We met with top US official everywhere we visited, everyone wanted to know what we were doing back home in Africa.
BA: How did you get to be part of this? Was there a  selection criteria?
MK: The Mandela Washington Fellowship is open to every young person aged 18-35 years who is doing something unique and positive to impact their
community. It could be as an entrepreneur, in public management, civic
leadership or Energy.Applications open every October through an
online application process and is managed by IREX. By joining the
Young African Leaders initiative (YALI) online you get updates of all their programs including when applications for the Mandela Washington fellowship opens. 
BA: Meeting with President Obama must be a life changing experience for you. What was the feeling like?
MK: Yes, Meeting President Obama was definitely one of the highlight moments of my life! There is so much energy around him and about him. You can’t help but feel exhilarated being in the same room with him.But it was when he began to address us that I actually understood why
he was such a great leader.  He is so humble and down to earth, he
addressed us like equals and that alone was so amazing! It’s one thingmissing in Nigeria and Africa, where there is still a master slave mentality and relationship between leaders and their followers, but President Obama truly epitomized servant leadership. He also truly
believes that Africa can move forward and become a great power of the world and that we the young people are the key to unlocking Africa’s huge potential. He said in Answer to one of our questions “Think less
of what you want to be and more of what you want to do….” That word really resonated with me.  Many young people are focusing on the wrong goals.
BA: How has the whole experience impacted on your dreams and goals?
MK: It has unlocked an almost infinite potential in me. The human mind is so powerful and few people get to really live out what they are truly capable of.  People are held back by circumstances, fear or redundancy, so much that they don’t see the opportunities that
surround them every day. Now I see opportunity in every situation no matter how dreary.  I wish I had this depth of understanding many years back, because I would have dreamed bigger and taking advantage of many situations but it is not too late to for me or any young person out there to truly start making a difference with the few
resources at our disposal.
BA: We have not heard anything from you as regard your Bake Sale event which was synonymous with your name years back. Did you close that
chapter? What happened?
MK: We still held the bake sale fundraiser last year December but the idea is surely undergoing a transformation to something bigger.  We are trying to incorporate more innovative ways to raise adequate funds as
our cervical cancer control campaign is growing bigger every day.
This December, by way of fundraising, we are teaming up with Bridgeway Microfinance bank to hold a tea party fair and fundraiser towards a Race for cancer in January. Bake sales might still form part of our
fundraisers in future but it definitely won’t be the focus anymore.
BA: What have you been up to lately ? You seems to have been operating more in the background.
MK: Aside from the Mandela fellowship and internship which was a three month program, I have entered the residency program at the Lagos
University Teaching Hospital to complete a fellowship with the West African and national college of public health physicians.  The George Kerry Life foundation cervical cancer control campaign is also still ongoing and growing in reach. Updates on our recent activities are available on our and our face book page.
BA: So what should we be expecting from you?
MK: We hope our campaign can touch every state of the federation and even
begin to cross borders.  Our vision is equitable health care for allAfrican women, so we have a lot of work to do.  One of our latest programs is a Social behavioral Change communication tool developed in
partnership with a US partner and scheduled for launch first quarter of next year.

BA: What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment so far?
MK: My greatest accomplishment are the lives of women I can touch every day through the GKLF cancer control campaign.  There is no comparism
because I know every woman we educate and screen has the potential to create a domino effect in terms of introducing same awareness to her

BA: How do you juggle your role as a career woman, mother and wife?
MK: It takes God who is my strength and who tells me “I can do all things
through Christ who strengthens me”. I am much encouraged by that bibleverse, God is my number one source of strength. I also try to be very organized and plan everything!.  My year, month, week and days are well mapped out.  I still make a muddle of things at times even with
intense planning, but planning makes things so much easier to manage.

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