Visiting African leaders experience Carle culture, quality

It doesn’t take long for visitors to grasp what makes Carle extraordinary.

“Everything has such a strong community feel,” said Rado Razafindrakoto, an economist from Madagascar.

Razafindrakoto joined 25 visitors—ranging in age from 25 to 35 and representing a host of countries in Africa—in the Mandela Washington Fellowship, part of President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI). Through the University of Illinois’ Center for African Studies, Carle became just one stop on the six-week U.S. academic and leadership venture.

After a morning kickoff by Carle leaders, the fellows visited the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit and Heart & Vascular Institute. They discussed care at Carle’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). And they toured the Carle Auxiliary Guest House.

“As they talked, I realized it is smart the way Carle is run,” said Fatima Mohammed, a family medicine physician from Nigeria. “I like that it is self-governed with its own insurance, hospice and philanthropy initiatives.

Razafindrakoto added, “It is interesting to see how Carle operates since it is so large. The hospital really seems to reach a lot of people, which is great.”

The technology impressed Theirry Guigma, clinical researcher from Burkina Faso.

“The amount of technology used here and how it can be used is extraordinary. One of my goals is to see how to implement this type of system back home,” Guigma said.

University of Illinois professor Assata Zerai helped coordinate the YALI group’s time in Champaign-Urbana.

“A big part of our program is peer collaboration and networking,” Zerai said. “One of our goals is to encourage the Young African Leaders to continue their connections with the many U.S. partners they have met and are meeting during their time here.”

And the connections they are making are extraordinary.

“Our next stop is to Washington, D.C., where we will take a tour and meet President Obama,” Guigma said.