It was an action-packed, yet troubled end of the 2013 in the Republic of South Sudan. A rebellion in December of 2013 was followed by the massive massacres in early 2014. In fact, a slightly frightening presentiment of dramatic changes and a growing feeling of a weird mix of enthusiasm and insecurity were in the air since its independence in 20011. The citizens of South Sudan all hoped for the best right after the separation from Sudan, but many things didn’t change to the expectations.

Thanks to Atlas Corps for having given me the opportunity to be one of their class 15 fellows during this period, more and more importantly is the Host Organization that they placed me at; The National Endowment for Democracy (NED). It became a general trend for younger me to amplify my not for profit organizational skills and make it a success right after getting back home. I can now proudly say that by using the skills and courage that I learnt from the fellowship, my three colleagues and I have registered a local organization thus Foundation for Democracy and Accountable Governance (FODAG), which I am managing its programs’ implementation. It turned out that most of the fellowship endeavors transformed into long-term assimilation into the not for profit world as I have met several new young leaders across the globe. Personally I am feeling transformed and connected to the entire world.

I was an assistant program manager with the National Democratic Institute (NDI) prior to my acceptance for the fellowship. I feel incredibly fortunate that I have been able to continue to explore my career in the same democratic directions for the last six months at the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). One of my projects deals with mapping the civil society organizations in Africa that are NED partners and some that NED may need to partner with. As we all know that civil society organizations are at a very risky situation in the world especially in the developing world, and with a complicated process with low rates of long-term success of democratization. This is the story of my transformation from fellowship to after the fellowship that encompassed an unpredictable and complicated chain of events and reactions, not unlike the propagation of not for profit in the developing world. Indeed, very much like most countries in the developing world that needs a vibrant civil society to ignite the process of transformation there was a key component that initiated my relocation from South Sudan to Washington for the fellowship and provided the mechanism for its implementation, progress, and eventual success. Yes, it was the NDI experience besides the academic qualifications that made it possible for attending the Atlas Corps fellowship.

In the beginning of 2013, I came across the announcement for this fellowship (Atlas Corps) in the South Sudan U.S embassy Facebook page, Shame on me, but I had no idea what Atlas Corps Was. That is all that at that time a young South Sudanese fellow too concerned about personal history of the not for profit organization could imagine. I now realize that many young leaders tend to pay little attention to their career development and their stories of life in leadership, but as I am becoming more seasoned, these things have become more and more interesting to me. Needless to say, by now I am quite familiar with biography of Atlas Corps, one of the giants and speedily growing organization for fellowship program in the United States.

Washington, DC became my new professional home 6 months ago. There were numerous fortunate events since then: successful (and not) experiments, new exciting findings and ideas, seminars, collaborations, conferences. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to develop a growing and productive network programs. In many senses, my life, especially not for profit organization life, became more and more fulfilled, and I was able to pursue numerous new opportunities. Thanks to new friends, including several senior NED my host organization staff who got interested in my organization and provided some ideas with exceptional help and guidance, these efforts translated into my organizational strategic document.. But all this became possible due to the Atlas Corps proper placing of me for the fellowship.

And yes, I flirt with and enjoy writing articles and even blogs since I moved to the USA, something I could not dream of when I was in South Sudan.