It has been a challenging year for everyone. AYDA has had a few challenges of its own.
In early September, while AYDA was building a new school, the roof collapsed at the AYDA Center where our office, classrooms, and health clinic is currently located. Fortunately, this occurred during a time when the AYDA Center was not operational due to the pandemic. The AYDA Center closed again this summer due to renewed restrictions by the Ministry of Education.
With challenging times comes perseverance. AYDA is committed to continue the construction work on the new school and despite the setback. The AYDA Senegal team in Senegal has already started the repair work and rebuilding the roof- as seen in the picture below.
AYDA Senegal is determined to push forward and continue its projects to support improved youth development in Senegal. AYDA will be reopening its AYDA Center in November if the pandemic restrictions are lifted. AYDA continues to provide free masks and disinfectant supplies to remain a safe environment for the hundreds of children we serve daily.
AYDA Senegal is in the process of establishing a new Henhouse Project which is aimed at generating funds to support its youth development work as well as to help enhance food security in the area.
The project aims to start this fall/summer and will be managed by the team at the AYDA Center in Senegal. The project aims to be an essential component of AYDA’s youth development activities as youth participants will be taught about the process (and ethics) of raising chickens as well as managing a poultry business. Hopefully this will also lead to the development of micro-enterprises by some students in future, after gaining the skills, knowledge and practical experience of raising and selling chickens.
This initial project will cost USD 1245, which includes raising 300 chickens and providing grain, vaccines and chicken houses. AYDA Senegal aims to use the proceeds from selling chickens through the Henhouse Project to buy an agricultural plot of land to expand the size of the project.
Please help enable this Henhouse Project in Senegal by donating through our website. All donations are tax deductible and can be made online at www.aydaf.org.
Written by Kristy Mew | Johannesburg, South Africa
When COVID-19 hit, Yvonne Basilio took the opportunity to achieve one of her ambitions: to provide medical assistance during a natural disaster or pandemic. By relocating to New York City during the peak of COVID-19, Yvonne was able to lend her expertise in a place where the conditions were some of the worst in the world.
Prior to her move to NYC, Yvonne had raised a large sum of money towards establishing the AYDA Centre in Saint-Louis, Senegal. We caught up with Yvonne to ask about her passion for AYDA and her recent experience in NYC during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Interview 28 June 2020:
Yvonne, thank you so much for being willing to do this interview with us. To start, can you tell us a little about yourself?
Sure! I am 23 years old. I was born and raised in South Sioux City, Nebraska, and am one of five children. Both of my parents are Mexican immigrants. I have been working as a nurse for almost three years now. I lived in Spokane, Washington, for 13 months before I became a travel nurse. I have experience in long term care, medical surgical and telemetry. I am mentored twice a month in Spokane, and I recently joined AYDA as a volunteer.
Was there an influential experience that motivated you to become a nurse, or did you always know that’s what you wanted to do?
I decided to become a nurse when I worked as a certified nursing assistant in a long-term care facility. I really enjoyed getting to know the people I was taking care of. There is a special bond made when you get to take care of someone every day. You learn to be a good listener as you hear their stories and hardships and that helps you develop patience and compassion. That job inspired me to become a nurse, but working as one has reassured and solidified my decision that this is the right career path for me.
How did you find AYDA and what motivated you to volunteer?
Emily Furnish, who works closely with AYDA, told me about it. I have always wanted to be a part of a charitable organisation. It’s very motivating to see all the hard work behind the scenes for this organisation, and as a mentor have a strong passion for helping vulnerable children in populations. I thought it was a wonderful opportunity to get involved in while AYDA was still growing.
In what ways do you think AYDA can address the most important global issues?
Identifying current global issues is a good start. Recognizing what needs to be done, adapting to overcome challenges, and applying that through education that AYDA would be helping to provide.
Communities are continually being weakened by issues like Ebola, Coronavirus, poor hygiene, massive waste accumulation, and common diseases. What do you think AYDA can do to address these issues in the future?
AYDA aims to advocate and create ways for youth to thrive. One major way children and adolescents thrive is by being educated. As many know, the best way to prevent spreading communicable disease is by teaching hand washing. If children are taught hand hygiene, it should help significantly in reducing the spread of disease. AYDA will be able to provide a solid foundation of hygiene knowledge and this education, plus other activities, will equip youth to create a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
From your experience in NYC, what do you think less developed countries can learn about dealing with COVID–19?
Developing countries may not have access to some of the treatments we have available in the US, but by washing hands and wearing a mask, you can help stop the spread of COVID-19. Learning the basics at an early age is something that can be taught at schools and at home.
Has this experience in NYC inspired you to work in areas hardest hit by pandemics or has this made you realise that you would prefer a different route in nursing?
I knew this was a chance of a lifetime – to see healthcare in its rawest, most vulnerable form. I never believed I would live to see a pandemic in my lifetime, but here we are! I believe if I were given the chance to go to a hard-hit area again, I would go.
You moved to NYC at the peak of the Coronavirus pandemic. What made you decide to do this and what have been your biggest challenges while working there?
It has been a dream of mine to help out with a major event. I knew that this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity would change me in ways I could never imagine. It was a little scary committing to this major change as it’s been a major sacrifice of my mind and body, but it’s something I know I will never regret. Some of the biggest challenges I’ve had were adapting and maintaining patience with myself.
It was difficult at first to get the hang of the routine at a different hospital in such a different environment. NYC is very diverse, which I’ve enjoyed, but it definitely required me to adapt to the culture they have here.
If you could live and work at one of AYDA’s offices abroad and collaborate with a community in need, what activities, classes or programs would you start with first?
As a nurse, educating people about their health is something I am very passionate about. I believe collaborating with their on-site health office would be the first place I’d want to jump into. I think it would be very enjoyable for me to get to talk to the kids about basic hygiene.
The world’s developing nations were last to be impacted by Coronavirus and have experienced slow infection rates, yet New York City was hit hardest. What is your theory on why this happened?
Aside from the high population, many people travel to NYC frequently either for work or vacation. That means new people are constantly coming into contact with one another. That would be my only guess as to why it got hit so hard.
The global pandemic has had far reaching consequences that are likely to last for years. If someone asked you, “What happens now?”, what would you say?
I’m not sure; I’m curious to see how this pandemic will change healthcare in the future. I think we will be required to wear masks for some time. I believe after a vaccine is made available, it will ease everything a little, but those who are immunocompromised will have to take their standard precautions as they usually would. This is a scary virus and it will continue to be until we can understand it better and have access to a vaccine.
Yvonne is a passionate nurse who dedicates her time to helping others – by not only raising funds for AYDA, but by relocating to high-risk areas during uncertain times. When she isn’t working as a nurse or as an AYDA volunteer, Yvonne enjoys spending time at home with her cat, Benji.
If you’ve been inspired by Yvonne’s passion and think you’d like to become involved with the Alliance for Youth Development in Africa, please send us an email at [email protected]. AYDA is a diverse mix of people who are scattered across the world.
AYDA’s directors and staff are all volunteers, who work full-time in other jobs as teachers, nurses, engineers and more. We could always use more help as we build foundations together!
Alliance for Youth Development in Africa (AYDA) Foundation is a nonprofit organization committed to enabling underserved communities find pathways out of systemic poverty.
AYDA believes youth education and empowerment are key to breaking long-standing cycles of poverty and inequality; but we also understand youth development must be addressed holistically to achieve sustainable results.
Since our inception in 2015, we have partnered with local NGOs and community leaders in the countries where we serve to identify opportunities and harness local resources for impact in education, health, economic well-being, and other domains that affect youth thriving.
AYDA was first conceived in 2015 when a group of five engineering students at Washington State University decided to approach their final year project differently. They set out to validate a shared belief that sustainable design can be leveraged as a tool for social impact.
The team reached out to a nonprofit organization in Senegal which, at the time, was looking for a partner to set up a new school building. The end result was a multifunctional school facility that would serve the needs of the local community and double as the organization’s administrative office.
We have since expanded our operations in Senegal through local partnerships, implementing a range of social programs with a focus on education and youth development.
AYDA recently attained 501(c)(3) status in the United States, an important milestone that will enable us to reach our goals for funding and accountability as we forge ahead.
AYDA is led by a team of passionate philanthropists, comprising three directors, one project manager, five volunteer teachers, and dozens of international volunteers in Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.
What we do
AYDA advocates and creates opportunities for youth to thrive.
We collaborate with local communities in any area of need that affects their youth, but we have historically focused on initiatives at the nexus of education, economic independence, health and wellbeing, and environmental sustainability.
In line with our mission, we have identified a number of priority areas to guide our activities over the next few years.
An AYDA Center serves as a hub for a network of communities. With an emphasis on functionality, the facility offers streamlined services and operational support for planning and implementation of programs identified by community leaders and local allied NGOs.
AYDA Centers provide the professional front and clout often required for community-led programs to gain traction, but once initiatives are activated, ownership is progressively transferred entirely to the initiating community.
We will ensure the financial sustainability of AYDA initiatives by leveraging innovative practices for cost efficiency and revenue generation. We will also consolidate our efforts and develop strategic funding partnerships for greater impact.
Scale Local Best Practices
We will help identify, showcase and where possible, “prototype” local best practices in school infrastructure and administration, so they can be easily scaled up or replicated.
Senegal will build Senegal…Africa must build Africa.This local adage captures well AYDA’s philosophy on development and our approach to community outreach.
AYDA allies with existing local programs, community leaders, and government, drawing on their experience, resourcefulness, and in-depth understanding of the challenges facing their youth, and collaborating with them to develop sustainable solutions.
Collaborative & Allied
AYDA allies with existing local NGOs who best understand the problems within the community and are closely aligned with our mission. We do not engage in programs or activities that promote dependence on foreign aid.
Transparency and accountability are embedded in our ethos. Every quarter, we publish financial reports on our website and keep our stakeholders continuously informed through our website, email, and social media.
We don’t just implement activities to check them off a list. For every project we carry out, we streamline our efforts and resources and develop revenue-earning programs that promote financial sustainability to maximize the impact of our supporters’ investment.
When we reach out to support new communities, we never claim to be the experts or have the solution. Rather, we draw on the knowledge and resources of the local community and tailor all programs to their specific set of circumstances.
How we partner
Our volunteers are local citizens who become ambassadors within their communities.
We make it our goal not to interfere with local efforts, but to come alongside key players and stakeholders within the system in any way that will help them achieve their goals. We have adopted a 4-step approach to ensure we consistently operate within these boundaries.
Case Study: Furniture for Schools
Identify a need: Local school teachers flag a need for new desks and blackboards in their school. The existing furniture is dilapidated and creates a distraction to learning .
Understand the challenges: We consult with the school to find out what has been done so far to address the problem. We explore whether there are financial resources already made available by the community, local government, or other opportunities. We discover they have not been unable to acquire the resources locally, nor obtain the support of the local and regional government.
Explore solutions: We brainstorm with teachers to explore ways the issue might be addressed and determine that crowdfunding and small grants are the quickest and most effective option presently.
Implement and measure: AYDA helps coordinate a fundraising effort to procure the new blackboards and furniture, leveraging our local and global networks. Following implementation, we monitor and share results of this initiative with the local and regional government to quantify the problem and, ultimately, demonstrate impact.
Case Study: Overcrowding in Schools
Identify a need: AYDA is approached by friends, allies, and their local connections regarding the problem of overcrowding in schools in a community flagged as previously marginalized.
Understand the challenges: We meet with local stakeholders to better understand root causes and influencing factors; and to determine the potential long-term impact of the overcrowding issue.
Explore solutions: We bring the matter up with the Ministry of Education and discuss plans for infrastructure expansion. [The Ministry’s budget cycle cannot accommodate expansion, but they grant consent to AYDA to build a new school.]
Implement and measure: Work with partners to build new school and track results. Based on our observations and data, we advise the Ministry on the extent of the deficiencies, make an evidence-based case for expanding capacity of school spaces, and offer recommendations on low-cost options for infrastructure expansion.
AYDA is a 100% volunteer managed nonprofit organization advocating for better opportunities for youth.
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