Success Story: African Community Development
The African Community Development afterschool program used grant funds from the Idaho Out-of-School Network to provide refugee children with creative activities proven to aid trauma recovery.
The grant funds specifically paid for staff wages, facility rent, learning supplies including STEM kits, equipment, food, field trips, and fees to musicians who kicked off creative activities at the program each day.
Creativity is a central focus of the program. “Participation in creative activities opens the emotional side of the brain, which is essential in trauma recovery,” said Buta Muzuri, Executive Director for African Community Development.
The afterschool program provides enriching and creative activities that help youth develop positive relationships with peers, teach youth to rise above challenges, and develop leadership and decision-making skills. The mission is to integrate refugees and immigrants with their community at large to contribute towards a healthy and inclusive society.
“Through the projects, the students learned to communicate about their experience and identities,” said Muzuri who coordinates the activities and projects of the organization. “For instance, when we asked them to make clay representation of their favorite foods, the students who more recently arrived in the US made traditional noodle dishes that they eat with their families or cassava leaves and roots that they miss and don’t get to enjoy anymore.”
The program helps youth discover their passions and talents, find purpose in their life, build up their confidence to pursue their dreams. “We strive to make space for young people to explore and express their evolving sense of self and share their unique history,” said Muzuri.
Parents say that the program has helped their children succeed in school, kept their children away from crime, and helped their children overcome the loneliness of moving to a new country. All of this builds the resilience, hope, and connectedness that they need to succeed.
Muzuri’s experiences have shown him the importance of building strong relationships with families and communities. This is especially true for his program because the entire family is adapting to life in Idaho.
“One of the most critical issues for refugee families is the acculturation gap that inevitably develops when children adapt more quickly than their parents to this new culture,” said Muzuri.