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
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

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid