Mosaic’s International Leadership Programme (ILP) was launched in 2009 to help develop leadership skills, highlight global issues and equip young people to become involved in their local communities.
Saad Hammadi, 29, from Bangladesh took part in the programme in 2013 having been made aware of it by his best friend Syed Tashfin Chowdhury, himself a delegate back in 2011.
He explained: “I was intrigued to find out what a leadership programme could offer. As an assistant editor of a supplement in a newspaper at the time I applied for the ILP, I managed a group of about 10 staff comprising journalists, photographers and graphic designers.
“I heard from Tashfin how ILP broadens the way you think by getting to know people from across the world, their stories and experiences and most importantly build a network of connections.”
During the programme, Saad met delegates from as many as 16 different countries across the world. He said: “I was amazed to be a part of some of the most talented and diverse group of individuals who were full of energy, passion and enthusiasm. I was overwhelmed to hear their stories and inspired to do something that would make a difference.
“I was touched by how my fellow delegate Haider Abbas from Iraq started his life from scratch after he lost his younger brother in one of the turbulences. Some of the stories of guests and delegates were very inspiring. Meeting new people and hearing their stories and passion made me think how better I could live my life and do better with it.”
As editor of New Age Youth, a weekly publication in Bangladesh, and a correspondent for both the Guardian and The Christian Science Monitor, Saad is well versed in meeting people from all walks of life. He feels that the ILP complemented and reinforced the value in this.
Saad is proud of his Bangladeshi heritage and said that the ILP made him realise how we could help young people in the country fulfil their potential and give back to his community. He explained: “I wanted to promote the initiatives of young people in Bangladesh so they could make an example for others and be recognised for the efforts they have made.
“To do this I realised that the best thing to do would be listen to them and then give them a platform to share their work and stories through my work with New Age Youth, making it a flagship publication for recognition and appreciation. I took the idea to my editor and suggested we run a section in the weekend supplement of the newspaper featuring stories of initiatives that young people are taking to make a difference in their local communities.”
In April 2015, Saad was given the go ahead to produce an eight-page, weekly supplement. He hired a team of 12 writers to help him deliver his target of publishing 26 stories on alternate weeks throughout the year. To date, all 26 stories have been completed, each featuring a new success story of the work being done by young people in Bangladesh.
Examples of these include:
- 10minuteschool.com – a dynamic web initiative developed by a group of 38 individuals, providing tutorials to students preparing for university admission tests
- Daak – a mobile phone app that can help a person in trouble alert their nearest contacts
- Longitude Latitude – an art hub for artists to perform and share their stories, that in turn will entertain and inspire audiences
Saad credits his mentor Nazmul Haque with helping him prepare and develop his ideas and says that the experience has made him consider becoming a mentor himself in the future.
Nazmul said: “Saad thinks pragmatically and made a wise decision to run his project within his profession and area of expertise instead of venturing into the unknown. This means his project stands on solid ground and has more impact.
“His idea of promoting wider youth engagement through success stories in a leading daily newspaper reaches out to a lot more people than any other community based project would do and helps aspiring young people to learn to make a difference from stories of people who are similar to them.
“Saad and I have become good friends. Apart from the mentoring time, we have spent a lot of time together socially over the last couple of years.”
Saad’s advice to others considering embarking on Mosaic’s ILP is to: “Apply with an open mind because you don’t know how the programme can change your life and the way you think.” He added: “Even beyond Bangladesh, Mosaic has helped build a larger group of friends who are dotted across the world.”