News / USA

Harlem Non-Profit Serves African Diaspora and Homeland

Harlem Non-Profit Serves African Diaspora and Homelandi
X
February 19, 2014 5:28 AM
New York City is home to hundreds of ethnic and immigrant groups from around the world, including Africans. But until recently, the African diaspora lacked a center dedicated to their needs, especially regarding HIV-AIDS prevention, counseling and treatment. VOA’s Adam Phillips reports.

Harlem Non-Profit Serves African Diaspora and Homeland

TEXT SIZE - +
Adam Phillips
— New York City is home to hundreds of ethnic and immigrant groups from around the world, including Africans. But until recently, the African diaspora lacked a center dedicated to their needs, especially regarding HIV/AIDS prevention, counseling and treatment.

Now, the Harlem-based African Services Committee offers testing and referral services for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and various sexually transmitted diseases, along with other immigrant support services specifically geared to New York's African community. 

More than 12,000 clients took advantage of the non-profit organization's free or low cost services last year.

The group was founded by Ethiopian refugee Asfaha Hadera in 1981, when there were no services geared to New York’s African diaspora.

“It was a response to their need,” he said. “As a result, this has become the place where they come and share their experiences.” 

ASC now offers HIV outreach, education and testing. The program began during the 1980s in response to the AIDS epidemic.

Often still a taboo

HIV/AIDS remains a taboo topic in many parts of Africa, where contracting the virus is often considered shameful. That attitude persists among many African immigrants in New York, said Mulusew Bekele, ASC's programs operations director. 

“Until they get comfortable with the services we have, they tend to in a sense self-stigmatize until I sit down and explain to them that we are here to serve, and that the services are confidential,” he said.

Bekele said that helping immigrants who are fearful or sick can be often be taxing. “But the most gratifying part is seeing someone come in, thin as a rail and see them over time flourish, gain weight, be confident and see them smile,” he said.

Help for Harlem, then the homeland

In 2003, Asfaha Hadera secured a small grant to take African Services Committee to Ethiopia. He opened a clinic in the capital's main open-air market. The facility is staffed by locals but run according to U.S. best practices, including transparency, accountability, and quality service.

“All services [are] in one [place] so that the poor don’t have to hustle from one corner to another. Reproductive health is there. Family planning is there. Nutrition is there. Counseling and testing is there, and also treatment,” he said.

ASC Program Director in Ethiopia Hana Woldegabriel said her group reaches out directly to clients, most of whom are poor.

"Most them live on the street and most of them are HIV positive… Also, they are kids, HIV positive kids, who have no one. They don’t have a father to support them,” she said.

‘Save a life and save a world’

Today, ASC runs fully equipped clinics in five regions of Ethiopia. Hadera said the clinics are not only a blessing for residents of rural areas where health care is sparse, but also for himself and ASC’s growing staff.

“I thought that one person might not make a difference, but the fact that, if you [are] born to it, if you [are] dedicated, if you are focused, if you are responsible, if you manage resources effectively, it comes [down] to the Jewish principle that, ‘if you save one life, you are saving the world.’”

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid