Leonie is not only focused on making a career for herself, she has taken it upon herself to also empower other young people around her.
Léonie Dindji and I first met in 2015, in Casablanca, Morocco, at the “2030 Youth Coalition Workshop”. It was quite exciting: a group of 20 young people from different countries had gathered to share their opinions and views and to represent the voice of youth in the compilation of the plans for the strategic path the SOS Children’s Villages want to achieve by 2030. We quickly got to know each other, worked together intensively and had a lot of fun while doing it.
The next time I saw Léonie was at a congress in Innsbruck, which was focused on the quality standards for the SOS Children’s Villages. From our interactions, Léonie and I quickly realized that we have a lot in common. We both feel very connected to our SOS Children’s Villages as well as to our SOS siblings. What Léonie experienced growing up in Ivory Coast bears much resemblance to my childhood in Albania.
We have been friends since then. So it needs no mentioning that I am very happy and proud that Léonie has this year been nominated to the International Youth Coalition by her peers. This is all thanks to her dedication as a volunteer, her time and efforts towards supporting and empowering young people.
“The International youth coalition has awoken the leader in me!”
Although Leonie is only 25 years old, she has already achieved a lot. Currently, she is working with the Golf Federation in Ivory Coast, responsible for translation and communication. She has a Master’s Degree in American Civilization. In addition to that, she is the President and Founder of an NGO which works to provide development and education to underprivileged children. From 2016 to now, she has put a smile on the faces of more than 2000 young children from orphanages and poor neighborhoods through providing school kits, Christmas day celebrations, social integration days, donations of food etc. Another objective she wants to accomplish is to build a Farm called “Farm of the Heart” in order to promote young entrepreneurship and moreover empower young girls by helping them open their enterprises.
Leonie is very grateful to the International Youth Coalition (IYC). “The International youth coalition has awoken the leader in me. All these tasks and responsibilities… It was something I did not know I had the capability to do. Today, thanks to IYC, I feel confident. I know I can achieve great things!”-she proudly says.
It’s exactly this kind of drive which motivated her to also apply for an Internship at SOS in her country. Leonie wanted to do something concrete hence with the knowledge she had about the main socio-professional integration problems that her brothers and sisters have been facing; she decided to focus her work on that. Therefore, during her internship at SOS, she organized a sensitization tour in each SOS village in her country. She presented to them young entrepreneurs, leaders, and to people who shared their background stories and experiences and discussed with them about leadership, community service, socio-professional insertion, the importance of school and entrepreneurship.
The heartfelt messages of kindness, energy and motivation for change
Leonie says the young people from SOS see her as a great example and she has to continue being an example, in her studies, in her career, in the community. For me, Léonie represents female leadership at its best.
“I am close to them now and there for them when they need advice and when they need to share something going on in their lives. I invite them to conferences outside the village in order to challenge what they have known only from inside the village. This exposure challenges them to become leaders and gives them the opportunity to learn the importance of community service, of being good citizens and learning to be open minded.”
Leonie dreams big and has great visions for the future regarding her NGO and her career choices. At the moment she is waiting for her PhD topic to be approved so she can continue with her studies.
From the moment I met Leonie she naturally represented a true female leader so I am really proud and happy to know she will continue to spread the heartfelt messages of kindness, energy and motivation for change.