The Ajara Project is one of the priorities of RethinkAfrica. The project is a resource center that will help the desperately poor people of Ajara in their struggle against hunger, disease, and poverty-related death. We seek to involve the people themselves in our efforts to provide them with the resources they need to get out of poverty.
In most parts of Africa, government is alive only in the cities. In villages and towns not too close to the seat of power, basic government responsibilities are absent.
In the continent where politics is a zero-sum game, where graft is the order of the day, where the government is neither accountable nor responsive to its people, where political power is used to amass wealth rather than serve the citizens, where the political process is most corrupt, and where its leaders are known for siphoning public wealth into secret private accounts overseas, the disadvantaged poor have had to rely on external help to survive.
Ajara is a poor border-town caught between Nigeria and Benin Republic, where chronic poverty has taken its toll on the indigenous people and their children. Forced by poverty to sell their farmlands, and dispossessed by the rich and powerful settlers from both sides of the border, the natives, also known as the Eguns, have become helpless in their own land.
Their forests have been eaten up by the logging companies. Their rivers, the source of livelihood for the fishermen, have receded due to climate change. The farmers, on top of struggling with drought and low yield, have had to compete with subsidized farm produce from EU and the United States. Average life span is under 50. Less than 30% of the population can read and write. Infrastructure is in total collapse.
The result: Hopelessness, death, poverty, hunger, malnutrition, destitution, illiteracy, and sorrow. Many children in the villages of Ajara are happy to get one meal on any given day. They spend their days doing adult jobs, desperately searching for food. They are found hawking produce in the traffic, pain and desperation written all over their faces. Instead of being in school, they wander the streets, get taken advantage of, and infected with sexually transmitted diseases. But poverty is political. The privatization of public services in developing countries breeds poverty. The poor in Ajara cannot afford the services provided by private schools, clinics, and transportation. Most of the indigenes cannot afford to feed themselves. Their children have dropped out of school for lack of funds. Majority of the children go to bed hungry. There is no library for them. No clean water. The public hospital is as good as dead, and the private clinics are unaffordable to them.
Death rate is on the rise in the community. Chronic hunger and preventable diseases have cut lives short, rendering the indigenous people a vanishing minority in their own land. The voice of the government is not the voice of the people; it is the voice of multinational corporations whose sole purpose is to exploit the resources of Africa.
The Vision of RethinkAfrica for Ajara:
We at RethinkAfrica believe the mind is a resource that must be developed. There are many intelligent, teachable young people in Ajara whom we have met. They are eager to learn. They are dying for food, information, knowledge, education, and opportunities. But their dreams currently go unfulfilled.
After numerous conversations with the villagers, RethinkAfrica has identified what we feel is positive course of action for the people of Ajara.
RethinkAfrica seeks to work with the elders and youth and at-risk children on the village level, using sustainable development tools to build a Resource and Cultural Center for the people of Ajara. The facility will include a library, soup kitchen, clinic, computer laboratory, vocational center, a multi-purpose hall for workshops and the arts and a storage facility for resources and supplies.
As part of our efforts for sustainability, the center will serve as a source of continual employment and support for the community of Ajara. We are setting our sights high because we believe what is worth doing, is worth doing well. The Ajara Project is an ambitious goal that offers a win-win solution. We empower the villagers with the resources they need to pull themselves out of destitution while, at the same time, giving back to their community and supporting others as they struggle out of their current situation. Yet another goal of RethinkAfrica is to provide volunteers with an opportunity to impact the lives of these villagers while enriching their own. Volunteers are invited to build, teach, inspire, and share their experiences.
By providing the community with a resource center, we seek to achieve the following objectives:
- Give the highly impoverished and marginalized youth the skills they need to maximize their potential, become productive, and bring their gifts back to their community
- Provide young people with access to the resources necessary to achieve social and academic success
- To motivate and empower these highly intelligent but severely unfortunate young people to use the acquired skills and information to escape poverty
- Create workshops where the children and youth can come together to tell their stories, share their struggles, dreams and hopes
- To teach the youth to think of possibilities, become positive and proactive thinkers, be accountable to one another, and learn to take advantage of the resources provided in a way that gives back to their community.
RethinkAfrica believes in hope for Ajara people. But unfortunately, they have no resources to develop their mind. Though we cannot solve all their problems, we want to do the best we can and we invite you to join us in giving the brilliant but severely disadvantaged youth of Ajara hope and a future.
What Makes Us Different:
- We have built a relationship with the community, have the trust of the people, have knowledge of the local conditions, and have a way of getting feedback from the community on our activities
- We believe only “self-reliant efforts of poor societies themselves can end poverty”
- We are accountable for each individual beneficiary, and for action that help the poor individual youth to stand on his / her own feet
- We believe the fact that Ajara people are desperately poor does not mean they cannot think and do for themselves
- Because we know the people, we understand that they know what they need and can think for themselves what the best solutions are for their situation
- Our relationship with the people of Ajara also ensures that this becomes a project they take pride and ownership in the project for their community
- Our aim is to break the circle of hopelessness and helplessness, not to give hand-outs or create dependence
- Our passion is to empower the beneficiaries to improve their opportunities in life
What We Don’t Do:
- Our aid does not come at the expense of the culture and integrity of the people we want to serve
- We do not try to fix communities; we help them realize their own dreams and goals
How You Can Help:
- We are looking for benefactors, sponsors, offers of fund-raising, and people willing to share their expertise and time.
- If you would like to help with fund-raising or would be willing to put on events, we would like to hear from you with details of your relevant skills or how you’d like to get involved.
- We are also looking for experienced computer professionals, English, French, music, and art teachers, who would be willing to volunteer with us in Africa.
- Our Youth-Reaching-Out Program gives high school students an opportunity to share their love with the less fortunate in the poor countries. Please feel free to call us for more information about this program.
If you would like to make a monetary donation, please click here.
There is another very simple way you can be a part of this project. We have put together a list of all the items we need. You may choose what you’d like to buy for the project and it’ll be removed from the list.
- Computers (20-30 total)
- Print paper
- School supplies
- Canned foods
- Kitchen ware
- Medical supplies (first aid)
- LCD projector
Perhaps we missed something, or you have an idea that you think would be helpful to our project. Please let us know what you think. We would be happy to hear from you at: email@example.com