Remembering Sierra Leone’s PJ Mandewa Cole, Queen’s Young Leader Who Died At Age 36
PJ Mandewa Cole was an Associate from the Tony Blair Institute (TBI) and worked as the Lead Technical Strategist with the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI).
PJ Mandewa Cole worked shoulder to shoulder with the Chief Innovation Officer (CIO), leveraging the expertise and network of TBI and supporting the CIO from within to make the most of his position for Sierra Leone’s development.
Prior to joining TBI PJ Mandewa Cole and during the Ebola epidemic in 2014 PJ led Lifeline Nehemiah Projects to develop strategies for frontline support, through: community education programmes to over 100,000 people; provided food and psycho-social support to over 12,000 quarantined individuals; and in partnership built an Ebola Clinic which treated 271 people. He also worked as Governance advisor and Business Development for national charities in the UK. PJ Mandewa Cole has over 10 years’ experience working in the UK and Sierra Leone on award winning education and training programs. He was Governance and Policy Advisor to a UK based organization, providing support to a network of over 1000 organization.
PJ Mandewa Cole is a One Young World Ambassador, Queen’s Young Leader, a member of the Queen’s Young Leader Advisory Panel, Royal Commonwealth Society Fellow, member of the Lifeline Nehemiah Projects board, and with the Lifeline Nehemiah Projects he has 32 young people living with him, the youngest being 3 years old
PJ Mandewa Cole exemplified TBI’s values, serving as an optimistic changemaker for the world. Joining TBI in 2018 as one of our first Sierra Leonean staff, his leadership made a huge mark on TBI’s culture and he served as an inspiration to many TBI staff members across Africa and beyond. Working alongside Sierra Leone’s first Chief Innovation Officer, Dr. Moinina David Sengeh, PJ worked diligently to realise Sierra Leone’s Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI). He served as DSTI’s number two – Head of Project Design and Delivery, and Lead Technical Strategist – for the past four-and-a-half years, leading projects and teams that have delivered incredible impact for the government and people of Sierra Leone.
PJ Mandewa Cole led with his whole heart and strove to go above and beyond what was asked of him. He tackled difficult challenges with ease, joy and determination. Outside TBI, he was awarded the Queen’s Young Leader Award by Her Majesty The Queen for his selfless work with the Lifeline Nehemiah Project, a charitable organisation in Sierra Leone that provides frontline support to the most vulnerable. The project provides a care home for young people, runs community-education programmes for more than 100,000 people, and during the Ebola pandemic, provided food and psycho-social support to more than 12,000 quarantined individuals. In partnership, the Lifeline Nehemiah Project built an Ebola clinic which treated 271 people. He was also appointed Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society, member of the Queen’s Young Leader Advisory Panel and the Sierra Leone Ambassador to One Young World.
He was known for saying “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for” as he spoke to youth and counterparts in government about the change that they were delivering for Sierra Leone. PJ’s leadership and passion were an inspiration far beyond the borders of Sierra Leone.
Even knowing this day was coming, it is still so difficult to comprehend that PJ is no longer with us. Our thoughts are with his family and all those who knew and loved him. Sierra Leone, the TBI community and truly the world lost someone special. May his soul rest in perfect peace. His impact will continue through the lives of those who had the opportunity to learn from him.