Tag Archives: poverty

ONG MESAD

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Since arriving in Abidjan, I’ve been working for an organization called MESAD (Mouvement pour l’éducation, la santé, et développement) which means, in English, movement for education, health, and development. Since it’s debut in 2001, they’ve been devoted to fighting against all forms of oppression especially as it relates to vulnerable youth, providing help to youth suffering physically and in morale, and improving quality of life by providing health intervention, education, and mentorship support.

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Today MESAD is present in Abidjan, Toumodi, Daoukro, Yamoussoukro, San Pédro, Aboisso, and Gagnoa. They are still expanding with hopes to eventually be a presence in every region of Ivory Coast. MESAD works at the side of communities, utilizing their preexisting structures to research problems and find solutions. Their presence is constituted of structures called CASE (Centres d’animation et d’écoute de soutien et d’écoute) each of which receives at least 500 young children per month at each site.

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MESAD’s incredible impact can be measured in the numbers of people they have been able to help..

Education:
-3399 youth taught to read and write
-7439 youth sent all the way through high school
-10000 street children interviewed, re-educated, reinstated and protected
-500000 children benefiting from the socio-educational activities

Professional Placement
-200 new young entrepreneurs and 200 youth association/clubs -2034 youth have received professional training supported and mentored
-2034 youth have received professional training
-5000 associate leaders and youth trained to strengthen their capacity and organizations

Health
-200 presentations organized to sensitize the public to STI/HIV-AIDS
-300 youth have received STI treatment
-400 juvenile prisoners have received STI kits
-10407 children have benefited from primary care and medicine
-61646 people sensitized to the fight against AIDS

Emergencies
-During the post-election crisis, 215013 people assisted in 14 regions with life saving materials including food and medicine.

MESAD has been a dynamic, and needed presence in the community, but it’s their professionalism which makes them stand out. They maintain partnerships with numerous equally reputable organizations including USAID, UNESCO, Médecins du Monde, UN, the European Commission, la Coopération Française, la Cooptation Japonais (Japan), care, Terre des Hommes Italie, France Volontaires, and more!
Here’s a photo of the volunteer celebration lunch at the home of Mr. Kouassi Konan, director of MESAD, with some French volunteers…

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I feel very fortunate to have met the staff of MESAD, not only because I am able to complete my internship requirements her, but because they are honestly some of the kindest, most caring people I’ve known. For example, the regional director of Treichville, Olga not only riding a taxi all the way to my house to make sure I didn’t get lost, but even walking me to my building and then up 4 flights of stairs literally to my door. The next day she walked me to my building again, this time teaching me the route to take the cheaper taxi (saving 1200 CFA per day) and even drawing me a map. Today I had lunch at the home of Mr. Konan with his mother and wife, Flora, Gi, Meria, and his son Philip plus a group of French volunteers. It was delicious, with a great selection of various Ivoirien dishes and a interesting conversation about why I shouldn’t fear death with a psychologist from MESAD. From Mr. Konan I learned that despite the exploitation of the African continent by European and American businesses, the continent continues to rise out of poverty and is quickly becoming the last salvageable homeland for humanity, as the people are not yet at the point of China, for example, whose environmental system in Beijing has been considered “collapsed” due to over pollution. African people still understand that nature is all we have, and must be preserved, something the rest of the world needs to learn and remember before it’s too late!

Here’s a photo with some of my coworkers at a MESAD event for recycling that hosted honorary speakers such as the minister of Environmental Affairs, Orange (phone company) representatives, and even some Royalty…

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Left to right: Aboubacar, unknown, Olga, Sesa, and Flora

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Next, a survey of health in Ivory Coast and my trip to CHU (Treichville University Hospital)…

The Real South Central

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I have had the privilege of interning as a teacher on behalf of African Soul International for Pennacle Foundation Inc. In South Central Los Angeles! I began this internship with a goal in mind: spreading awareness about human trafficking and increasing knowledge about self empowerment and entrepreneurship for the youth in the program.

Pennacle is a provider for the LA County Summer Youth Employment Program, so my job included recruiting youth who needed jobs in the area, training them for 20 hrs, and helping them to find work in the surrounding area that could be sustainable! My first week, after training, I was helping a girl, I’ll call her K for privacy, create a new resume. As she was telling me about her struggle to find long term employment and sharing her frustrations of being a teenage parent who was raised by her grandparents after her mother was incarcerated for several years. She and I both shared a few years, but also a lot of hope and happiness. Another girl whose resume I worked on disclosed that she and her sister have both been living in a group home ever since her sister and parents got into a fight and child services came. It was rough because she didn’t know what address to put on her resume.

A few days later, as some of the newly employed youth were helping Pennacle set up for their free community food program, some of them shared with me the dangerous realities of living in the area. One youth, whom I will call Von, told me that after going home following training one day she was chased by a girl who got out of her car with a knife in hand. Apparently she didn’t look like she belonged there, so her life was threatened. Another group of young men told me how just looking as if you “don’t belong” in an area can get you killed, claiming that gangs in the area no longer care about colors but rather stereotype based on race and other physical traits. One guy, J, showed me two keloided scars just below his collar bone where a bullet had entered his skin and (fortunately) exited again. This occurred, unfortunately when he was only 16 and all because he was misidentified as someone else.

This has been an amazing journey so far, I can’t wait to see what comes next!