V4A Executive Director Speech at Ambassador Kyle Reception

Vitendo4Africa has been enthusiastically working hard to improve the social and economic opportunities for African immigrants and other minority communities in North County. Vitendo4Africa serves many immigrants who come to this country through DV lottery, an act passed in 1990 to encourage immigration from underrepresented nations. Others come through student visa, family petition, or for Employment.  According to statistics over 40% of legal permanent residents from Africa who are settling in this region have a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent in their home country. Unfortunately, many of them don’t end up working in their field of study. They will only survive on a entry level job making minimum wage unless they start all over and learn new skills.  This problem also extends to their children including those who were born in America.

To address these problems, V4A has established great programs that connect immigrants and refugees with resources and opportunities in St. Louis region. We also reach out to immigrant professionals and entrepreneurs to seek their guidance on career choice, skills development and job search.   Access to information and resources helps immigrant families stay safe, healthy, productive and economically empowered. Through partnerships and collaborations, we are able to impact more lives and hence change the poverty trajectory in many immigrant homes both here in St. Louis and in Africa.

Every month we provide transportation for immigrant women for free pap smear and mammogram screenings at St. Louis University Cancer center. We also host health education classes at our office, churches and at homes.

V4A monthly mentorship meetings educate youth on topics such as college preparation, college saving, credential evaluation and scholarships.  Parents and mentors are engaging in two-hour discussions on how they can team up with mentors and teachers to help their kids succeed both in academic and in life.

Similarly, the F4KIDZ African Performing Arts strives to promote mentorship and help immigrant students overcome social, emotional and academic challenges as they pursue their dreams. Collaboration with local schools not only helps immigrant students, but it also helps teachers and staff interacts with foreign born students.

The pre-teen and teen leadership program involves group discussions, peer counseling, ACT preparations and community service.  Last year a group of high school students took a trip to Kenya where they helped to construct two classrooms and did some repairs at a local hospital.  We recommend every kid experience this before they graduate from high school. We hope to partner with US Embassy in Nairobi to improve the program.

In 2018,

  • Over 45 mentees (high school and college students) and 29 mentors participated in mentor-mentees activities in the mentorship program. Seven students have received full scholarship.
  • 75 Women received free mammogram and Pap smear screening and health education.
  • 97 people received citizenship training.
  • 67 new Americans went through the orientation training. We assisted them with housing, job search, health access and donation of household items.
  • 76% immigrants who participated in cultural activities reported increased connectivity in the community.
  • 71% of those who received mentorship training reported increased knowledge of available community resources.

V4A goal is to connect and work with all African nationalities in Missouri, connect them with access to healthcare, financial capital, better housing and to give our children access to resources and opportunities like other American kids. We are training and preparing our youth for the corporate jobs, for great innovations and entrepreneurship both local and international.  With St Louis Mosaic Project vision of attracting 25,000 foreign born in St. Louis by 2025, V4A will continue to work hard to ensure that Africa is not left out. We appeal to every Kenyan, Nigerian, Somali, Ethiopian, Ghanaian and every African immigrant or refugee in St Louis to seize the moment and unit as one. Together we will amplify our voices, our presence will be felt in the political arena and we will expand economic opportunity for our generation.

Mother Teresa reminds us that “I alone cannot change the world but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples.”

With our great friend Ambassador Kyle McCarter in the US Embassy in Nairobi, we hope to work together to create many ripples in fighting poverty, corruption and health disparities in Kenya.

V4A and St Louis African Chamber of commerce will be reaching out for your support to host the first African trade exhibition in St Louis in spring this year.

When we work together to improve education, employment, income, and family and social supports—the social and economic factors that influence our communities—we create a healthy and productive society here in St Louis and in Africa.

We love you and we wish you and your wife Victoria all the best in Kenya.

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