Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Trinity’s African Development Coalition begins annual project

Nicole Sinno ’17
Contributing Writer

In the fall semester of 2007, freshman student Ibrahim Diallo decided to voice his interest in the development of Africa’s culture, politics, and economic issues. Officially a recognized student organization in 2008, the African Development Coalition Club (ADC) was formed with the purpose of participating in annual projects that would remedy some of the challenges faced in African countries.

Every year, ADC picks a country they would like to focus on and then spends the year conducting extensive research. They learn about the kinds of challenges the country is facing and start researching what would be an impactful community project. Their first project began in Guinea, where they spent seven weeks renovating the only primary school in the village, installing a water pump for the children, and building a house for the teachers.

In the summer of 2010, ADC traveled to Freetown, Sierra Leone to build three computer labs for West Africa’s oldest university. Housing a total of 80 computers with flat screen monitors, ADC helped combat the quickly lowering computer literacy of the school by giving the students the resources to help themselves.

The current president of ADC is Madeleine Shukurani ’14, a senior at Trinity who is majoring in International Studies with a focus on Africa. She is from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and quickly became involved with ADC during her freshman year. She explained that, “When I arrived and saw the work [ADC] did and the cause they were working to promote, I knew I wanted to be involved.”

The overall purpose of ADC is to allow students who are interested in contemporary African culture, politics, and economic issues to voice their opinions, ideas, and concerns. ADC works to raise awareness about modern-day Africa and also work toward education, development, and peace throughout the continent.

One of ADC’s main projects takes place every year in October. ADC selects one country to focus on and then dedicates the rest of the school year to studying that nation. No matter what the group chooses to focus on, whether it be education, health, food security, etc., “The project must be sustainable, realistic and educative to the members of ADC,” says Shukurani.

After all of the fundraising and grants are completed, ADC travels to Africa for the summer to spend one or two months working on their planned project. “This past summer we traveled to Uganda, where we build [electric] grinding mills for a refugee camp so that grain could be processed into flour at a cheaper cost. My freshman year, we built a maternity ward and water pump for the village of Lotima in Moshi, Tanzania,” explained Shukurani.

In order to prepare for these types of trips, Shukurani says that ADC spends a lot of time contacting locals in the community they are traveling to. ADC also coordinates with community involvement groups to find home stays, volunteers, and other supplies they will need. One group ADC has worked with in the past is called COBURWAS, who provides housing, food, information, and translation.

The trips ADC has been on thus far have brought them praise from the United National Association of the USA, as well as the Business Council of the United Nationals. The David Project of Peace also awarded ADC a grant to aid their projects.

However, ADC did not always have the same mission it does today. Shukurani says that ADC once only focused on their annual project and country, but now is working to also turn the organization into a culture club and African presence on Trinity’s campus. “For example, if the school wants an African presence in the International Fashion show, they call us. When I was a freshman, ADC was only focused on the country at hand. Now, we try to be a bigger part of Trinity’s campus,” notes Shukurani.

Looking forward, ADC knows that fundraising will be a challenge as its plans and aspirations grow. Currently, the organization receives generous support from the Hennesy Family Foundation, President Jones, and other academic departments on campus.

Shukurani is extremely dedicated to ADC and the work its members complete every year. She is happy that ADC has allowed her to actively participate in the development of Africa. However, she also explains that, “Language barriers were very frustrating…You discover local languages on the way and live a difficult and stressful life that move people live their entire lives. I have grown to appreciate the things I have and the society I live in.”

For any students who are interested in working with ADC and are also passionate about Africa, Shukurani encourages attendance at the group’s Monday meetings at 7:30 p.m. in the Alumni Lounge.  In the upcoming months, ADC will be participating in the Afropolitan Fashion Show at Columbia University on September 27, as well as the African Fashion show at Trinity on November 2.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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