Global Alliance for Africa is a Chicago-based, 501(c)(3) not-for-profit that partners with local not-for-profit agencies, faith-based organizations, and community groups in Sub-Saharan Africa
We design and develop unique and innovative programs that address locally identified needs for orphans, vulnerable children and youth, and women, at-risk households and communities in urban slums and remote rural areas. Our libraries, for example, provide a safe space in slums for female youth at risk to develop their capabilities by accessing educational resources that would otherwise not be available.
In May of 1997, Global Alliance for Africa implemented its first program, located in Asembo Bay and Lwak, Kenya, on the shores of Lake Victoria. A malnutrition prevention program funded by the O’Neil Foundation in Maryland for $5,000.00, the program was designed to prevent kwakishor and miasma (protein deficiencies in children). The program reached 386 households and helped 732 vulnerable children within one year. The protein-rich porridge – whose local ingredients and preparation was taught to young mothers by older women in the community – is still being used today. Not long afterward, we received a $50,000 grant from Ronald McDonald House Charities to partner with Nyambani Orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya to implement a program designed to address the transition of HIV from mother to child. Initiated in the slums of Korogocho, Kariobangi, Dandora and others, the program developed into the Leototo Program which is also still in operation today.
From the time of the AIDS pandemic in Sub-Saharan Africa until today, Global Alliance for Africa has provided services and assistance to over 120,000 orphans, vulnerable children and youth, as well as vulnerable women and men, that we are able to confirm. This includes our Cholera Prevention Program in Monrovia, Liberia in partnership with the Liberian Healthcare Workers Association that reached over 37,000 primary and high school students in that beleaguered city during the height of the civil war. Additional efforts in both Kenya and Tanzania included the MADE IN AFRICA economic training and entrepreneurship workshops for women’s cooperatives, the vocational training and bike program at Vijana Centre, rural educational scholarships, safe water programs, the nursing scholarship program, the micro-finance program, and the ever-growing community library program (funded in part by the entire City of Park Ridge, IL) and the therapeutic arts program.
In addition to the programs above, most people do not know about our work in 2002 and 2003 with the national Ministries of Health in East Africa to establish EADSNET (East African Disease Surveillance Network in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda) which prevents infectious diseases from crossing national borders and has additionally impacted hundreds of thousands of people and continues to this day. Nor do people know about our work in the Loyola Chemistry Department East Africa Soil Analysis Consultancy Project (Kenya and Tanzania), which has helped thousands of rural farmers. Or the Service Learning Conferences we held for public and private high school students in the Chicago area.
We have introduced hundreds of people to Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethiopia to learn about the complex issues in international development and to dispel the negative myths that surround the continent of Africa. Immersion and learning trips with Loyola University Chicago, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Dominican University, Georgetown University, DePaul University, Northern Illinois University, and the Therapeutic Art Trips (since 2006) have led to a greater understanding and appreciation of not only what is most challenging but also what is most common and important to all people around the globe. Our numerous Kilimanjaro and other fund raising and educational climbs have taken people to the roof of Africa, to the savannahs of the Masai Mara, the stone churches of Lalibela, and to the edge of the Indian Ocean in Zanzibar.
It is no small measure of success that GAA has crossed over three decades. In spite of difficult economic times and organizational challenges, we continue to work for and with the poorest of the poor. This is not easy work. It is done slowly, person to person, day to day, year after year. Our accomplishments are due to determination, perseverance, grit, and as our current Board Chair Ed Bancroft likes to say, a passion for the work. We’ve brought safe water to those who have no water, we’ve brought safety and security to orphans whose very lives are threatened, and we’ve brought financial stability to the poorest of households in the slums.
What sets Global Alliance apart is the grassroots relationships developed with each of our African partners. Ongoing partnerships and collaboration allows us to ensure that the needs of orphans, children, youth, households and communities are being met.
Most of all we value and listen to our African partners as well as the individuals we serve for creative, locally-based, and locally resourced, solutions to their needs.
We also realize that sustainability is not merely to be understood in economic terms, but in a cultural and social context as well. Communities, households, and individuals themselves are the authentic catalysts for change.
The GAA Commitment to Social Justice through Development is based on a Vision and Core Values:
• Personal humility in engaging with local communities and individuals
• Talking less and listening more
• Solving local problems with solutions that exist at the local level
• Enabling the poorest and most vulnerable people to improve their education and their economic and social position
• To work with people as equals
• To see that an appropriate development response is dependent upon our willingness to recognize that the needs of the vulnerable are changing, and that simplistic solutions of the past will not succeed.
As Ghandi said, “Recall the face of the poorest and the weakest man (woman and child) whom you may have seen, and ask yourself if the step you are contemplating is going to be of any use to them. Will they gain anything by it? Will it restore them to control over their lives and destinies?”