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The American Foundation for African Children's Education (AFACE), is a New York-based non-profit that focuses on repairing primary schools in West Africa.
Founded in 2006 by Serigne Diouck, a Muslim, other key members include co-Vice Presidents Thomas Brigandi, Christian, and Daniel Fridson, Jewish.
The organization does not specifically target any particular faith, but rather encourages diversity as a key to their success.
“AFACE is an excellent example of the good that can happen when people of different backgrounds and beliefs come together to fight a common enemy,” stated Ebrima S. Touray, AFACE’s Project Manager in the West African country of Gambia to the Christian Post. “In this case the enemy is the cycle of poverty in Africa due to the lack of childhood educational opportunities. Our team will continue to work tirelessly until this notion is eradicated.”
AFACE's main goal is to directly work with local African organizations to provide a suitable learning environment for underprivileged children.
The organization employs a zero expense ration system where all proceeds collected are wired directly to West African hardware stores with donations coming from North America and all over Europe.
"This strategy enables an approximate 70 percent cost savings per project relative to other education-focused NGOs, as the construction and renovation of the schools are also completed by volunteers who receive no compensation," an AFACE press release said.
AFACE assembled its team and private contributors from 2006 to 2008, and keeps a strong chain of command in both the U.S. and Africa.
Their first task at hand was to make an immediate difference in the children's lives and they have thus far been successful.
Over 8,000 West African children have been helped as a result of AFACE. In addition to renovating schools, the AFACE team has raised money to purchase school buses for autistic children, built sea walls to prevent the flooding of schools on the Atlantic Ocean, and has established working relationships with other non-profits and government officials in West Africa.
“Our goal is to not only repair schools, but also to raise awareness surrounding how poor the conditions are in these African schools,” said Diouck to The Christian Post, via phone from Senegal, where he is in talks with officials to expand AFACE’s efforts. “There needs to be a greater sense of urgency among the international community to help these children because with every day that there is no action, more and more children are losing the chance to get an education and break the cycle of poverty."
This past fall the organization sponsored the NASDAQ Closing Bell Ceremony on Sept. 23, 2011, for His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, President of Sierra Leone.
This event focused on raising awareness of the educational inequalities in Sierra Leone, arising largely from the destruction of over 1,200 schools during the civil war in the late 1990’s, and also the recent attempts by policymakers in the country to make policy in favor of economic and educational development.
Brigandi was the main coordinator in setting up the ceremony, and gushed about how important the event was for him and the organization, “When President Koroma thanked us for our efforts in promoting his nation’s economic and educational progress and told us that we are always welcome in Sierra Leone, I knew at that moment that we just added a powerful ally in the fight against educational inequality in Sierra Leone, and West Africa at large."
He continued to The Christian Post, "A partnership with someone who’s worked so hard and contributed so much to the country’s post-conflict recovery is meaningful both for our foundation’s efforts and for me personally.”
Fridson saw the NASDAQ event as something he termed, "Total Development Model."
“The key to successful development is coordination between the private sector, NGO’s and local governments," he said to The Christian Post.
"Building schools is the most important step in improving children’s access to education, but it is not the only step. The parents need the economic opportunities to support their children while in school, and in some cases you’ll need infrastructure development to ensure that the children can get there in the first place. AFACE seeks to help bridge the gap between all the organizations to ensure the optimal impact of our collective efforts.”
The future plans for AFACE is to draw more awareness and garner more support for the cause while continuing to raise money and make a difference in the world.
To find out how you can get involved and help promote AFACE’s efforts to expand educational opportunities in West Africa, please visit AFACE.org.