Archive for May, 2012

May 30, 2012

Meet AIA Communications Intern Haley Aubuchon!


I wasn’t always appreciative of my education.  The seemingly endless string of tests and papers often seemed like torture devices inflicted by teachers and professors that I simply had to withstand in order to get into college or get a job.  When I got to college, however, that all changed.

I became involved in the anti-genocide movement on the George Washington University campus and learned a lot about places like Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.  This work introduced me to the Banaa Sudan Educational Empowerment Network, which changed my perspective on education.  I became a student leader in Banaa and worked with others to provide full scholarships to American universities and other support for students from Sudan and South Sudan.  I came into contact with current scholars who are incredibly passionate, intelligent and remarkable individuals committed to returning to their countries and using their knowledge to resolve the economic and social issues that they face.  I have learned that supporting education is an investment in people.  No other kind of aid has the ability to snowball so greatly as, once educated, people teach one another and are able to use their skills not once, as physical or monetary support provides, but again and again for years and generations.

Working with Banaa has taught me about the importance of education; it is what changes the world.  Education is the first step to treating disease, building roads, starting businesses, and writing and speaking to spread the word.  I have seen firsthand how education helps people to grow and enables them to improve their world.  I am proud to be able to use my own education to help provide educations for students both in America with Banaa and now on the ground in Tanzania as part of the Achieve in Africa team.

– Haley Aubuchon

Achieve in Africa Intern

May 27, 2012

Meet AIA Team Member Samah McGona!


When people ask how to pronounce my last name, I tell them to remove the American inspires “C” and utilize the phonics they were taught in grade school.

The next question that usually follows is, “so where are you from?” To this I usually begin to say Richmond, Virginia; however, I know that’s not a satisfactory answer to the question despite the fact that I have lived in Virginia for the past twelve years. Instead I draw on my roots and tell them that I was born in Africa but raised in America.

For me being African has been my first and foremost identification. It’s how others see me and over the past few years it’s how I’ve began to truly see myself. I don’t know how to not be African, how to not love my Liberian roots.

However, my love for Africa has always been tinted by the generalizations and stereotypes that are often attached to the continent. After years of explaining to people that I did not live in a jungle or suffer from malnutrition as a child, I have developed a desire to educate others about Africa and its many countries. Most importantly, I have realized that the best way to uplift Africa is to better the conditions in African countries that lend to these generalizations.


Therefore, I decided to concentrate on the African region when I declared my International Affairs and Development major in college. After recently finishing my fist year at the George Washington University I am positive that I chose the right field of study. It is very true that many African countries are suffering both economically and socially; yet, I continue to believe that there is so much unlocked potential in these countries.

So, when I initially heard about Achieve in Africa and the projects in Tanzania, I felt a need to be a part of the progress. It was literally a dream to receive an internship with AIA. I look forward to working as an intern for this organization because I know that building infrastructure and furthering education can and will brighten the potential of the impacted children and communities. Doing my part to uplift Africa makes me feel closer to my heritage and working with Achieve in Africa provides an opportunity to educate both those in Africa and those unable to comprehend the overall exquisiteness of Africa.

– Samah McGona

May 10, 2012

Opportunity of a Lifetime

I often take time to reflect on the benefits and life changing effects that opportunity can bring to an individual.  During these moments of reflection, I appreciate how fortunate I was to have had the opportunity to attend a top notch elementary school and high school and to have been admitted to a challenging university in Boston, MA – a city known for its intellectually stimulating environment – because of the benefits these educational experiences have brought me. I also recognize that there are countless young men and women around the world who have not received these opportunities for reasons that they had no control over and as a result are living very difficult lives that make the experiences and problems of my friends and I look simple.

During these points of reflection I also realize that this is what energizes me to volunteer for Achieve in Africa. For me, Achieve in Africa represents an avenue for me to help setup a platform to improve the education that youth are receiving. I strongly support the education focus of the Achieve in Africa organization because I know the most effective way the majority of the youth that we are helping are going to be able to improve their life trajectory is by giving them an opportunity at a good fundamental education. I believe Achieve in Africa is truly focused on getting the necessary tools, whether it is classrooms, books, desks, or course curriculum, to youth who will greatly benefit from a basic education.

As I was completing my undergraduate degree at Boston University I realized how many doors are opened through formal education. I believe that Achieve in Africa’s mission to improve the formal education experience for youth in rural regions Tanzania and in so doing giving them more opportunities in life is one that is inspirational and one that I am happy to be a part of.


– Sherrod, Business Development Director

May 1, 2012

Volunteering from your homeland

Like most of us involved with Achieve in Africa, I’m not always assured that I can make a direct difference in the lives of children thousands of miles away.  Yes, editing AIA’s videos does help spread the organization’s goals, yet I can’t help but feel that it’s not enough.  It was recently National Volunteer Week and other AIA members have discussed other ways to get involved that don’t always require donations.

The people who work in human resources at my company are extremely dedicated to a variety of causes.  Bringing AIA to their attention will not only present opportunities for fundraising, but also educate and bring about awareness throughout the company and other associates.  You can do the same wherever you work, or just with your friends.

Facebook and Twitter are some of the best resources around.  Just “liking” AIA’s Facebook page can help spread the word.

Don’t limit your volunteering just because it was national volunteer week.  Seek out any sort of local causes that you can get involved in.  I recently found an animal shelter nearby that is one of the largest no-kill shelters in the Los Angeles area, and I can’t wait to work with them every weekend.

I love working with Achieve in Africa and creating content that can easily be shared online and throughout the world.  AIA is a fantastic organization and I encourage all to get involved either with us, or another non-profit near you.

Ryan Urban