Anael Bodwell: Obsession Of A 13-Year Old!

 Anael Bodwell

What does it mean to be 13? What was your obsession when you were 13?

Do you have idea what is likely going on in the mind of your 13-year old daughter, niece, cousin, sister or neighbor?

Our guest, Anael Bodwell, 24, from Seychelles, reflects on the journey of her life since she clocked 13.

Exclusive to this Blog, we present you this amazing daughter of Africa, who is doing her best together with her team to help solve some of the continent's major problems--teen pregnancy, reproductive health, conservation, environment and sustainability.


Andrew Adedayo Adetoye
Lead Host
Smol Group



At the Young African Leaders Initiative Town Hall Meeting held in Washington DC., on August 3rd, 2016, President Barack Obama said:

''....six years ago, I launched the Young African Leaders Initiative.
 Because I've always believed that one person can be a force
for positive change; that one person, as Bobby Kennedy
famously said when he visited Soweto, that one person can
be like a stone, a pebble thrown in a lake, creating ripples....ripples of hope....''

It is common knowledge that growing up in Africa as a native girl can be challenging. Child marriage, rape, cultural barriers that inhibits development of the girl child, lack of access to good education, unwanted pregnancy, and sexual health risks are some of the typical issues the African girl contend with.

Worried by the alarming rate of teen pregnancies in her country, Seychelles, Anael Bodwell stepped forward to be a ''...a pebble thrown in the lake creating...ripples of hope'' to many girls. She decided to be ''....a force for positive change...''


She mobilized and got her team together and founded the Youth Action Movement, YAM.

She wrote in The Guardian of August 8th, 2012,:

'' Seychelles society, people generally avoid the subject
 of young people's sexuality, even in schools.
Many teachers (including personal and social education teachers)
refuse to talk about it. There is a tendency to think that
sexuality is shameful.
This leads to problems; often students do not know enough
so they either make things up or they remain ignorant.
Some concerned parents tackle the issue at home but others
avoid bringing the subject up altogether, hoping that teachers
at school will talk to their children about it instead (they don't).
This is where peer to peer education comes in. We understand that
 young people are much more at ease confiding in friends of the same age.
 Talking to adults about their problems can be challenging or
sometimes misinterpreted, so young people tend to keep things to themselves.
Peer education helps to overcome the barrier of miscommunication.
 Youths are also more likely to take advice from others their age;
 empowering young people with accurate and safe information
not only helps that particular individual but also helps other youths
 with whom they will communicate these facts.''


Anael Bodwell also co-founded the Seychelles chapter of the SIDS Youth AIMS Hub, SYAH, to promote environment conservation and sustainability

She was invited to participate at the August Cohort of the Young African Leaders Initiative Regional Leadership Center, Southern Africa.

Images From YALI  Regional Leadership Center, Southern Africa: August Cohort, 2016.

But for Anael, it has not been all bed cof roses. She has had her fair share of difficulties, however, she has remained resolute to pursue her dreams.

Anael Bodwell
Her Story


''When I was 13 years old, I was obsessed with becoming a journalist. Unlike most people my age back then I would sit for hours before the television watching the news and locally-produced documentaries. I admired the men and women who reported on world issues, grateful for the news they brought to us. On CNN, many were dodging bullets, crossing war trenches or recounting horrific experiences of attacks. On our national television, our reporters were comfortably reporting on government policies, community developments and other national issues. I admit back then I did not fully understand these issues but looking back to those days, these journalists built my dream and the person I am today. I was fortunate to have worked as journalist for a year and even more fortunate to have been mentored by one of the most influential female editors of the region, Ms. Deepa Bhookhun. I worked with a local newspaper and the fact that they were independent gave me the freedom to report openly on news item which concerned my nation. A little earlier than that, I faced some personal issues at home which made me fail my international exams after high school. This was my first major failure in life and the consequence has marked me to date. I was not admitted to my first school of choice and had to settle for my second choice; business and accounting school. My dreams for journalism died only to be revived later.


''Business school, however, opened new opportunities my way and soon I was introduced to the world of Finance. I became one of the white collars business persons, eager to make a name for themselves in the financial market. I was extremely determined to do better and was awarded a government scholarship to study for my professional qualification in accounting and finance at the University of Seychelles. I am currently still pursuing this dream as well as undertaking various personal projects. Two of them include co-founding two national chapters of internationally reknown youth NGO. The first one was in 2012 in response to an alarming rate of teenage pregnancy. I built Youth Action Movement with the hope of inculcating in our youth the need for sexual and reproductive health, rights and education. Until today I am very proud of the achievements I have made with the association and can’t thank the dynamic team behind the projects we have led.

Anael and colleagues
''The second NGO was co-founded with one of Seychelles’ most promising youth, Angelique Pouponneau-also known as the Queen’s Young Leader awardee of 2016 for Seychelles. This young woman never ceases to inspire me and together we are a dynamic duo. We built SYAH Seychelles out of nothing and made it one of the most successful youth-run NGOs in Seychelles. Some of the most impactful projects SYAH has led are the “Seychelles free from plastic bags” campaign, marine conservation projects, blue economy internships and mass cleanups just to name a few. We have a growing membership and have built trust with various partners in the government and public sector.
''All these accomplishments may have strained my ability to fully focus on my studies but have certainly been very empowering for me. Last year, I was elected as a board member of the Seychelles National Youth Council (SNYC) and this year I was elected as the vice-curator of the Global Shapers Community- Victoria Hub, an initiative of the World Economic  Forum. Furthermore, 2016 also gave me the opportunity to enroll under the Young African Leaders Initiative where I received leadership training at the University of South Africa under a USAID programme. I am now committed to mentoring other young Seychellois leaders to ensure that the youth of Seychelles are empowered, independent and futuristic thinkers. As young people, we are vulnerable and are constantly threatened by negative influences thus the need for education and empowerment.''


Her Counsel
''My message to the girls of Nigeria is that you have a lot of potentials in this world. A lot of women around the world came from very humble backgrounds but arose with hope and determination to make this world a better place. I, for one, was inspired by a lot of women in my community; today they are ministers, CEOs and managers. But some of them are also teachers, community leaders and mothers. We are at different levels in society but the changes we make impacts everyone. Our contribution is minimal as individuals but it is the collective effort that makes everything so great. I wish people would look around them and notice the things that needs changing and acted on that. You don’t like the fact that girls are not educated in your village? Empower them! You don’t like that a lot of young people are unemployed? Teach them entrepreneurship. The world needs more pro-active thinkers rather than reactive ones.
But most importantly, do it for the world and the generations who will follow'

Youth Action Movement, YAM.[Images]
YAM is the only youth NGO in Seychelles dealing in Sexual and Reproductive Health.
The Youth Action Movement (YAM) is a youth-led  NGO, for youth between the ages of 12 to 25 years.  YAM was launched in 2012 in Seychelles, co-founded by Anael Bodwell and Ayiel Bonne

<Thanks to Demien Mougal for reports on YAM>

SIDS Youth AIMS Hub, SYAH, [Images]
SYAH was co-founded by Anael Bodwell and the Queen's Young Leader, Angelique Pouponneau, as a youth-led NGO to promote environment conservation and sustainability.

Anael Bodwell


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