HANDS is committed to building bridges between the US, Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco to further our mutual goals. In line with this mission, HANDS is working with the US Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, as an implementing partner in the Professional Fellows Program, bringing mid-level professionals and emerging leaders from Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco to the US to build their knowledge in the field of economic empowerment, disability advocacy, women’s rights and many other important fields. The goal is to allow fellows to explore mechanisms and strategies that the government, civil society and private sector can employ to further contribute to the full participation of women and people with disabilities in society.

The PFP allows participants to exchange experiences, and build institutional and personal relationships. This is especially important as Egypt and Tunisia – two of the leaders in the Arab Spring – are facing severe economic challenges as they seek ways to establish more democratic systems of governance. The program aims to empower participants to be more successful in their spheres of work by providing opportunities to gain knew knowledge and experience. These experiences include fellowships with a variety of government and private entities, opportunities to meet with counterparts from around the world who share the same goals and cultural enrichment that enhances the experiences of the participants during their time in the US.

The first part of the exchange program consists of a fellowship with an organization based in the US. Once the fellows arrive in the US, they are divided into smaller groups and placed with different organizations around the country. This experience lasts approximately four weeks and is designed to expose the participants to the business practices of American organizations. Additionally, the program participants will have the opportunity to build lasting connections with Americans who are committed to the same development goals.

After the conclusion of their fellowships, the participants will gather in Washington, DC for the Professional Fellows Congress. This event, organized by the US Department of State, affords participants the opportunity to network with other fellows from around the world who participated in similar exchanges. The congress also offers seminars and professional development sessions hosted by various social service experts.

Professional fellows always reflect positively on their experiences in the US. The program’s alumni benefit from a cornucopia of resources, including an advanced professional network, research materials, State Department expertise and, most importantly, the knowledge that there are people in faraway places committed to the same dream for a better future. Some alumni utilize these resources to become heads of state in their home countries, others start multinational organizations that work towards social progress, but all return home to advocate for constructive change in their communities.

If this sounds like the program for you, please click here to see what fellowship program is coming up next. Also check out the photo galleries for our legislative fellows and economic empowerment exchanges.


Summer 2017 Professional Fellows Program Exchange –
Seattle & Washington D.C.

Our Professional Fellows Program theme of 2017 is NGO development. This summer, organizations focused on people with disabilities in Seattle and Washington D.C. hosted 10 Fellows from Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco. For one-month, Fellows learned the necessary skills to create a project centered around disabled inclusiveness to bring back to their home communities – and had fun doing it!