Meet the new HCDExchange Youth Leadership Hub

May 6, 2021

We are extremely excited to introduce you to the second batch of HCDExchange Youth Leadership Hub Associates. The Youth Leadership Hub (YLH) is a cohort of eight youth HCD+ASRH leaders from sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia who offer insight on young people’s lives and experiences, lead meaningful youth engagement efforts, and demonstrate youth leadership across HCDExchange’s work. 

The Associates and their areas of concentration are:

Eden Befekadu is the Youth Integration Associate at HCDExchange. She currently works as the Young Designer at PSI/Ethiopia and also works on A360’s Roadmap for Integrating Smart Start in Ethiopia (RISE) programme. Smart Start responds to married adolescent rural girls’ and their husbands’ desire to achieve their family’s financial goals by positioning contraception as a tool to achieve their self-defined goals for their families and lives. Her role includes co-designing the programme with adults from diverse backgrounds, working on policy advocacy to ensure AYSRH rights and representing or being the voice of adolescent girls.

Eden also loves to volunteer. She recently joined the Country Coordinating Team for Ethiopia as Partnerships and Communication Director for the International Youth Alliance for Family Planning. She served as the Design Associate at HCDExchange in the first cohort of the Youth Leadership Hub. Eden is a Business Administration student at Western University college which is affiliated with Lincoln University, Oakland, California (Class of 2021).
Himanshu Kumar is the Programme Management and M&E Associate at HCDExchange. He is a young theatre professional from Jharkhand, India and has a Certificate in Soft Skills and Management from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) Mumbai. He is currently pursuing a postgraduate degree in Journalism and Mass communication from Ranchi University, Ranchi.

He has worked with USAID, ABT Associates and Plan India as a Drama Activity Consultant. At Plan India, he used theatre to teach about contraception, safe sex practices and gender equality. He also worked as the Youth Accountability Advocate with Restless Development India where he focused on SDG 5; Gender Based Violence. He served on the first HCDExchange Youth Leadership Hub as an Event and Convening Associate.
John Maina is the Measurement and Evaluation Associate at HCDExchange. He is a youth programmer with five years experience in community engagement, social marketing, and community research. He has supported KESWA in setting up M&E processes and fostering cross-learning among the member organizations.

He currently works with HOYMAS, a youth center for key populations where he oversees outreach teams, and activities as well as collaborating with service providers to improve uptake and impact of services offered.

He is passionate about social change, specifically sexual and gender minority rights. He has recently been engaged by YLABs as the youth co-designer in the Almasi challenge. He is happy to be creating new futures with HCDExchange.
Meru Vashisht is the Quality and Standards Associate at HCDExchange. She is a human-centred designer, writer and changemaker. As a Design Strategist at TinkerLabs, she works at the intersection of gender and youth, deriving insights and design directions from qualitative research conducted in complex social challenges.

She has used HCD towards the larger goal of gender equality while working across sectors like sexual health, migration, women entrepreneurship, employment generation, livelihood and domestic abuse. She also actively contributes towards taking HCD to adolescents and youth. She also spends her time volunteering, writing, designing and campaigning for feminist causes.
Pascaline is the Adolescent Insights Associate atHCDExchange.

Pascaline is a DREAMS Ambassador for USAID’s Turengere Abana Program. DREAMS is a community of highly motivated, solution-driven adolescent girls, and young women (AGYW) who believe in improving the world one community at a time.

Pascaline is a Ni Nyampinga Journalist for Girl Effect Rwanda where she serves as a multimedia Journalist and a drama script writer.

She was selected to act as a one-day Ambassador for the Swedish Embassy in Kigali’s Girls Take Over Initiative where she oversaw all the work being done at the embassy.

Her aspiration is to “inspire the next generation of young women and girls in Rwanda through making them believe that they can take the lead in whatever dream they have.”
David Mutaha popularly known as Rasheed is the Networking and Partnerships Associate at HCDExchange. Rasheed is an design and campaign strategist, who runs his start-up ‘creative factory’ from Nairobi Kenya. He is also a front-line youth advocate shaping the prioritization of adolescents and youth issues for desirable SRHR, HIV, gender outcomes at grassroots, regional and global fora. He has ideated, set up and steered Maisha Youth Movement and served as the National Coordinator for JIACTIVATE, two examples of numerous grassroots campaigns and movements he had mobilized and led young people through integrated digital media platforms, and the use of art and media to positively influence his generation.Rasheed aspires to use the power of design thinking, youth-adult partnerships and networks, and privilege to shift the narrative on youth engagement and agency. For him, the HCDExchange is a wonderful opportunity to create intergenerational platforms to engage, share, and learn how to build sustainable HCD+ASRH systems for the future from the lessons of our past.
Romulus Gbota is the Communications Associate at HCDExchange. Romulus is originally from Benin and has an undergraduate degree in English Linguistics from the University of Abomey Calavi. Prior to HCDExchange, he served as the Digital Marketing and Community Management Intern at Etrilabs-Benin, an NGO and tech hub focused on the solving the unemployment problem in Benin. He also worked on an internal project that gave young people digital training skills at Etrilabs-Benin.

Romulus volunteers with the Beninese Association for Family Promotion (ABPF), a member association of IPPF (International Planned Parenthood Federation), where he is an intern. As an activist for sexual and reproductive health rights, he promotes and makes family planning methods accessible to all social strata in Benin. He raises awareness about the importance of birth spacing and the merits of family planning.
Ruth Appiah is the Community Engagement and Events Associate at HCDExchange. She is a medical doctor and a passionate women’s right activist and youth advisor with an aspiration to contribute to the progress of the African people by eliminating the barriers to achievement and leveling the playing field for all persons. She has for years been actively involved in initiatives of social impact with organisations such as Federation of Ghana Medical Students Association (FGMSA) and Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG). She believes that once given an enabling environment, young people can do whatever they set their minds to.