Category: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Featured News, News, Student Spotlight, Women of MSFS

Title: MSFS Students Lead First-Ever Student-Led Panel at the 2022 Fragility Forum

With this increased knowledge in international development [through my studies at Georgetown], I hope to contribute to capacity building in Libya…and find better ways to prepare youth for the labor market.

Al-Moataz Shikhy

Headshot of Al-Moataz

Al-Moataz Shikhy

Al-Moataz is a Libyan student in MSFS program concentrating on International Development. He has over 10 years of experience in public sector, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations within country experience in Libya and the US. He holds a master’s degree in public procurement from University of Rome. He was a team member of the International Cooperation Department in the Ministry of Planning which was responsible for all kinds of development cooperation with the international community in Libya. He also worked at World Bank Group in Health and Social Protection. He was a key player in the first Health Reimbursable Advisory Service program signed with the Libyan government.

What was your contribution to the Fragility Forum?
I explained about the current context in Libya and how political fragmentation in the country and the civil war impacted youth unemployment, and how the government legalized unemployment by offering low salary for youth working in the public sector. The education system in Libya leaves youth unprepared for the labor market. Due to unemployment, many youth felt compelled to join armed forces looking for a secure income, stability, and empowerment that came with being part of an armed group.

I explained the consequences of this and how the youth decided not to wait for a solution from the government, but rose up to create their own solutions. This includes civil society’s role in this. I worked with the government and NGOs to combat this problem in Libya. NGOs and civil societies created capacity building programs–soft skills programs that allowed youth to develop skills for employment. They also facilitated funds for SMEs.

How does this connect with what you hope to do after graduating from the MSFS Program?
I am focusing my studies on International Development (IDEV) and hope to take what I learn to contribute to making changes in the public sector in Libya. With this increased knowledge in international development, I hope to contribute to capacity building in Libya–since the issue is lack of capacity and not resources–and find better ways to prepare youth for the labor market. I would like to be part of building good governance and helping to reduce corruption.

How has your education at Georgetown MSFS helped you learn more about these issues or helped you feel more prepared to deal with them?
It has been a good opportunity to be a part of MSFS and the have the opportunity to build a stronger background knowledge in international development. I want to use this education contribute to enhance development in Libya. I plan on going back to Libya and take what I learned here at Georgetown MSFS to inform my work.

Why did you choose Georgetown?
Because it’s Georgetown [laughs]. No, from my personal experience, most people working in the developmental sector were Georgetown students. When I moved here in 2018 to work for the World Bank, I discovered Georgetown and this concentration (IDEV) and I was interested. DC is the main hub of international development experts, so I felt that DC is the right place for those interested in international development.

Headshot of Katie

Katie-Meelel Nodjimbadem

Kaite is a Chadian-American from El Paso, Texas. She is in the International Development (IDEV) concentration. Her previous background is in journalism and she was co-deputy head of fact checking at The New Yorker and was a staff reporter at the Smithsonian magazine. Between 2017 and 2018, she was a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, where she taught at a secondary school, volunteered in the U.S. Embassy’s information section, and created a media literacy course for adult learners. She was the recipient of the 2021 MSFS Futures Scholar award.

How do you hear about the Fragility Forum/how did you get involved?
I was approached by Johan Bergman and Shanta Devarajan (the Chair of the IDEV Concentration and DEI). Since I have a background in journalism, I was asked to be the moderator.

I did not grow up in a fragile state but I have a strong personal connection to one. I am half-Chadian. Chad, as you may know, is a fragile state which deals with similar issues around unemployment as the countries highlighted in the panel. So the topic of this session was really close to my heart.  

I also have experience in Cote d’Ivoire, where I observed a lot of similar issues to those the panelists talked about.

What of the panels discussions resonated with you?
Moses’s discussion about his peers in Uganda having inspiration and ideas but lacking capital really resonated with me. Also, the lack of government support which Rawan and Moataz spoke about really struck me. These situations can be easily written off because of the lack of state capacity, but that’s unfair. How can young people be successful in spite of their government systems?

What are your personal studies in Georgetown?
My regional interest is West and Central Africa and my thematic interests are democracy and governance, conflict and fragility, migration, and economic development.

Why did you choose Georgetown?
I chose Georgetown because I wanted a program that would complement my journalism background well. Additionally, the opportunity to learn from experienced practitioners in DC was attractive to me. I also liked the smaller cohort size and how international it is. It really adds to the quality of education to be in a classroom with people from all over the world.

I think my journalism experience helped prepare me for this role as moderator. It was definitely a new experience for me to do it live and on camera. But I think there are a lot of transferable skills in journalism to moderation that helped me.


“It’s incumbent upon us to instill that ray of hope.”

Moses Ruharo

Headshot of MosesMoses Ruharo

Moses was born and raised in the Western region of Uganda. He studied Economics for his undergrad degree from Makerere University. Upon graduation, he applied to volunteer for Teach For Uganda – a Non Profit – for 2 years, where he was placed in the rural communities of Central Uganda to identify and solve community problems, while improving the numeracy and literacy outcomes of school children.

After completing the fellowship program and being conferred with the Distinguished Fellow Award, Moses went on to co-found a Venture Capital firm with the main goal of addressing Uganda’s elusive and odious unemployment situation by providing capital to young entrepreneurs with brilliant ideas.

Upon the recommendation of his previous employer, he applied to Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and was admitted on a full scholarship from Georgetown University. He’s gone on to serve in different capacities as a student Senator and he recently campaigned for the position of Vice President of the Graduate Student body and won.

In his pastime, Moses likes to do long distance running, reading history, and catching up with friends (he proudly considers himself an extrovert!)

What did you present on at the Fragility Forum?

I discussed the state of youth unemployment in Uganda, which is very concerning. Specifically, I discussed what the government has been doing to address this issue. I highlight programs Ugandan government initiated, how they failed, what I did to address the challenge. The government launched Operation Wealth Creation in July of 2013, which was plagued by corruption and failed.

How did you get inspired to work towards ending fragility and helping youth find employment?
Looking at the state of employment in Uganda inspired me to get involved. There are many who want to start small businesses, but without the capital, they cannot sustain it. The mind is attuned to thinking about how we can survive. Many [youth] don’t have any hope of getting jobs in the formal sector. As a matter of fact, only 2% of youth between 24-25 do enter the job market. The rest have to find ways of either making it in the informal sector or finding a job in the Middle East. On average, monthly, about 1000 youth go to the Middle East to get jobs.

The whole situation will soon blow out of proportion. Every year, more and more people are entering the labor force, but they are not able to find employment in the formal sector. The level of hopelessness is palpable when you talk to youth. That’s the current situation in Uganda. All of them want to work. They want to progress. They can’t see a hopeful future in Uganda. We need to change that narrative. It’s going to be difficult and tough but it’s worth a shot. And it’s incumbent upon us to instill that ray of hope.

So I co-founded this venture capital fund, Kubo Capital Ltd., aimed at giving equity and start-up capital to people in Uganda who had brilliant ideas but no means to implement them. In Uganda, it is very expensive to access capital and many don’t have access to it. So our goal is to intervene and be the bridge to help potential business owners achieve their dreams. We also hope to help youth enter the job market.


I don’t give up because I came out on the other side and saw hope.

Rawan Chaker

Headshot of Rawan

Rawan Chaker

Rawan is a first-year MSFS student in the Global Politics and Security (GPS) concentration. She was born and raised in Lebanon and has a Bachelor of Arts in Political Studies from the American University of Beirut. She previously worked for the Lebanese Ministry of Defense as an International and Legal Affairs Coordinator and for the Lebanese Parliament as a Policy and Parliamentary Affairs Manager. This academic year, Rawan worked as an International Affairs fellow for the House of Representatives. 

How did you get inspired to work towards ending fragility and helping youth find employment?
In 2019, the situation in Lebanon was becoming increasingly unstable. I wanted to make an impact, however small, especially since I worked in the public sector. So, I decided to talk to the Mayor of my neighborhood and gathered data to understand what was behind increasing unemployment.  We found that a lack of language and computer skills limited people’s’ ability to find jobs.

I founded Li Ain el Mraysseh and focused resources towards acquiring computers and a space to conduct basic courses in French, English, and the Microsoft Office Suite. I invested the capital I had to procure the first computers and sometimes taught the classes myself. From there, we matched people’s work preferences with a network of local employers. Many people in the community volunteered with me; I wasn’t alone in this, and with further funding we were able to expand the project. 

I’m still involved in the NGO, Li ain el Mraysseh, and contribute to decision making. We still have a team on the ground working toward our goals. Moving forward, I hope to scale the project and perhaps move it under the municipality of Beirut to expand the accessibility of services, however measuring the feasibility of this.

What brought you to Georgetown?
It pained me to leave my country. I felt like I was abandoning my family, friends, and community for my education and come back to Lebanon when things are better.  But actually, I am learning,  growing, and expanding my network while at Georgetown which will allow me to better influence positive outcomes for Lebanon.  What drew me to MSFS was the people; I learn from both the experienced faculty and the beautiful minds of my peers. I felt it was the right time to pursue my master’s, and I don’t regret coming here.

The MSFS experience helped me think more creatively and critically. Talking to fellow students from Afghanistan, from Libya, from all over the world, gave me a perspective that I didn’t previously have. The international perspective at MSFS is unique because the program attracts students from all over the world. Also, the professional opportunities that have opened up for me are also instrumental. Right now, as a Fellow at the House of Representatives, I’m working on issues not only related to my region, but several aspects of US foreign policy.  Being able to bring my perspective to a Congressional staff where I am the only foreign born member has been very rewarding for me. I know that I’m being heard and conveying a message. The Fragility Forum was another one of those opportunities where I was able to deliver my perspective as a student at MSFS to people around the world.

What was your contribution to the Fragility Forum?
At the fragility forum, I talked about what’s going on in Lebanon, and gave my opinion on why previous attempts to improve youth unemployment have failed. Then, I shared examples of successful programs because many people are doing an amazing job working on improving unemployment in fragile states. I wanted to show the extraordinary potential of Lebanese youth because seeing what they’re capable of accomplishing has made me so proud. We are resilient. We don’t give up. We want to invest in our country.”

What is one key takeaway you hope to convey about your initiative and the future of Lebanon?
I believe that people are the changemakers regardless of their position in society, or what they’re able to contribute. If someone aims for change, they can make it come true on any scale. Even when that contribution seems small, it should not discourage people because it will grow with hard work and drive. 

To the Lebanese people, I would say never give up and always have hope, no matter what is happening around you. We are the type of people that when the explosion happened on August 4th, we were on the street rebuilding right away. Despite the destruction, we came together to rebuild our city, because we don’t give up.

I brought that resilience with me from my country. It’s what keeps me going every day. If I’m having a bad day, a lower than expected grade, or a rejection from a job, I don’t give up because I’ve seen the worst. I didn’t give up when my house was destroyed or when hyperinflation spiraled out of control. I don’t give up because I came out on the other side and saw hope. This really drives me.