Youth Fellows

An empowerment program for young emerging leaders


At the heart of the DTC is a simple, bold idea: to identify, train, sustain, and connect the next generation of emerging young leaders struggling for social justice and reconciliation around the world and right here in Indiana. In 2015, the Desmond Tutu Center received a gift from the Herbert Simon Family Foundation, allowing the Center to launch its Youth Fellows Initiative, an empowerment program for young emerging leaders from Central Indiana and South Africa.

The Youth Fellows Initiative is designed to support youth who want to change and challenge existing norms that prevent their community from achieving equality. In collaboration with Indianapolis-based Peace Learning Center, two cohorts consisting of South African and Indianapolis youth, ages 16-21, will be selected based on their passion for social justice and desire to implement a project that will uplift their community.

During 2015-2016, the first cohort of Youth Fellows selected from Central Indiana travel to South Africa on an educational tour led by the Desmond Tutu Center. On this study trip, the Youth Fellows were exposed to the country and struggles of Apartheid and sought out key South African lessons for social justice work and community development. Upon their return, the Youth Fellows will be applying what they have learned by implementing a social justice project in Central Indiana.

During the span of 2017-2018, the second cohort of Youth Fellows selected from South Africa will travel to Central Indiana on a study trip led by DTC Executive Director, Allan Boesak, close colleague and friend of Desmond Tutu. On this study trip, Youth Fellows will be paired with an organization related to their social justice focus area and learn key lessons for social work and community development. Upon their return, the Youth Fellows will apply what they have learned by implementing a social justice project in South Africa that will uplift their community.

The two-week study trip will take place during the month of July 2017 with expenses including passport fees, airfare, accommodations, and meals covered by the Desmond Tutu Center. A project symposium will be held in South Africa in July 2018.

Throughout the program, the Desmond Tutu Center and the Peace Learning Center will hold public events with the Hoosier and South African cohorts, so that a wide variety of Hoosiers—a religiously, culturally, racially, and generationally diverse group—could learn more about the remarkable young people and their vision for a more peaceful world.

To hear more from our Youth Fellows and learn more about the program, visit the Youth Fellows Blog or check out our Facebook page

Meet our 2016-2017 Indianapolis Youth Fellows

  • Burgandie Duh

    Burgandie’s project is inspired by a loved one who has AIDS. She intends to conduct HIV/AIDS awareness events at her school to provide information facts, statistics, prevention, testing, and types of available assistance for those with HIV/AIDS.

  • Diana Posadas

    Diana is motivated her mother’s stories of the challenges for orphans with no homes or food. This inspires her to be a helping hand for orphans all over the world. 

  • Ghemaiya Bradley

    Ghemaiya’s project aims to work with young, African American women and girls in Indianapolis to teach them healthy self-respect, positive body image, and inspire them to be the best versions of themselves.

  • Izabella Spriggs

    Izabella lives in a neighborhood where dog-fighting is a widespread activity. She hopes to develop an initiative that provides education on responsible pet ownership and support to families who wish to provide safe and compassionate homes for their pets.

  • Jaina Cox

    Jaina believes that children are the future. She envisions a project that invests in the future through increasing education quality through access to resources.

  • Jamela Jafari

    Jamela’s goal is to develop and lead workshops about inequality (racial, gender, privilege/intersectionality) issues, empowering Indianapolis school youth to find their voice.

  • Kobe Bryant

     Kobe is passionate about equal educational opportunities for disenfranchised youth. He hopes to create opportunity through better education.

  • Paige Feyock

    Paige’s project idea was inspired by the dim reality that in many parts of the world, women are raped while walking to work. Paige intends to educate on the principle of “No” means NO and safety for women.  


  • Sierra Nuckols

    Recalling her childhood experience with food shortages and an inspired by an appreciation of sharing food with friends, family, and neighbors, Sierra plans to provide emergency food relief through her initiative, the Community Food Box Project.

Meet our 2017-2018 South African Youth Fellows

  • Cailynn Petersen

    Cailynn Petersen is from Cape Town, South Africa.  In high school she served as the School Secretary and currently serves as a Patrol Member for Green Light Neighbourhood Watch. She recognizes the socioeconomic problems in her community and hopes to have an impact on people in her community who have been involved with gangs and drugs. She wants to get young people involved in positive programs that help them develop skills, set up safe houses, hygiene programs and holiday programs.

  • Tracy Zama Khuzwayo

    Tracy Zama Khuzwayo describes herself as an ecofeminist. She is from Durban, KZN and is the daughter of a domestic worker. She has seen many injustices in her community and she believes that she will be most effective in her community if she focuses specifically on her two passions, which are women’s empowerment and the environment.

  • Chandre Laura Cloete

    Chandre Laura Cloete is from Cape Town, Western Province, where she serves as director for a nonprofit that helps develop young leaders to be the change they want to see in their country. She is passionate about history and enjoys learning about historical figures and the role they played in shaping the present. She also understands that she can personally have a role in shaping what her country will look like in the future.

  • Chumisa Matiwane

    Chumisa Matiwane is from Cape Town, Western Cape. She is involved in her community, coordinating after school programs where she mentors and tutors younger students. She is concerned about the growing number of women in South Africa who have been victims of sexual assault and how this has become commonplace. She wants to start a community project that would empower girls to take full ownership of their bodies and strip boys of their perceived entitlement.

  • Kurt Hartley

    Kurt Hartley is from Cape Town, Western Province. He has been involved in a community program called Lift Every Voice, which allows youth to learn about the history of civil rights in South Africa as well as the U.S. while becoming leaders in their community. He has also been involved in the youth intervention program at his church, helps those in his community by helping his mother run a soup kitchen from their home and is involved with helping people with disabilities through a program called Ti-Amo.

  • Asia Booysen

    Asia Booysen is from Newlands East, KZN, Durban. She is 19 years old and has volunteered with Friends of the Newlands Library running reading rooms, educational programs and soup kitchens. Asia says, “It is important to empower yourself, grow yourself and surround yourself with positivity.” In addition to working with her local library, Asia works with her local branch of Speak Protect and Care for Animals (SPCA) and volunteers with her church as a sunday school teacher.

  • Loide Ndemueda

    Loide Ndemueda is from Bela Bela, Limpopo. She is involved with an organization called Children of Fire, which helps people who have survived burn injuries. As a burn survivor herself, she has devoted her life to helping people in her community by visiting burn survivors in hospital and taking people to doctor appointments. She recognizes that there are many injustices in her community and believes that action speaks louder than words. Loide says, “Leadership is about action not passion.”

  • Siphesihle Precious Molefe

    Siphesihle Precious Molefe describes herself as a girl from a rural town with big dreams. She is from Vryheid, KZN and attends college at the Durban University of Technology where she is studying Radiotherapy. She dreams of being an entrepreneur and a philanthropist. She has helped change her community by organizing positive activities for youth which include a soccer tournament and beauty pageant.

  • Moegammad Ali Waggie

    Moegammad Ali Waggie currently attends the University of Cape Town. His main area of study is mathematics and he has been tutoring people in his community for a few years. Guided by his love for education, he one day hopes to start a tuition free life guidance program that would be open to all who want to improve their academic performance.

Read more about our recent Youth Fellows Program Events

Youth Fellows Open House

On Saturday, April 2nd, the first Cohort in the Youth Fellows Initiative gathered as a group with Desmond Tutu Center and Peace Learning Center staff. An entertaining game of “The Wind Blows” [...]

Be inspired to make a change

Youth Fellows Initiative Timeline
The following is a tentative timeline for the 2016-2018 Youth Fellows Initiative.
- American Youth Fellow (AYF) Awards March 2016
- AYF Meet-ups begin June 2016
- AYF Educational Tour to South Africa July 2016
- South African Youth Fellow (SAYF) Applications Open July-November 2016
- AYF Project Implementation August 2016- July2017
- SAYF Awards December 2016
- SAYF Meet-ups begin January 2017
- AYF Project Symposium: July 2017
- SAYF Educational Tour to USA July 2017
- SAYF Project Implementation August 2017-July 2018
- AYF Project Symposium July 2018

The Youth Fellows Program is Sponsored By