The African Immigrants’ Commission is a nonprofit organization, which was launched in December 2018. As the organization is organizing in February 18th, 2019 a workshop on Social Services, three members decided to tell in details the goals and mission of the newly born. Let’s welcome Mory Kouyate the chairman, Khady Racidat Kone Diaby, the African Immigrant’ s Commission commissioner on Family Affairs, and Menepelle J. Nuhann the national vice president of African Immigrant’ s Commission.
The African Journal ( A J) : Can you introduce yourselves to our readers?
Mory Kouyate ( MK) : Mr. Mory Kouyate attended Richmond Hill High School in Queens NY. He is also a CUNY/York College Graduate. He has a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and a History Minor. Since His graduation in 2010, Mr. Kouyate has been a dedicated community servant and a leader in the Bronx, New York for many years. For five years he served as the Secretary General of African Diaspora Parade & Festival, and 2 years as the Community Liaison of the African advisory Council of the Bronx Borough President, another 2 years as the Vice Chairman and 1 year as the Chairman of the AAC. Among his accomplishments as Chairman during his term, Mr. Kouyate Successfully advocated for the establishment of the month of September as African Heritage Month in the Bronx.
Mr. Mory Kouyate is currently the president of African immigrants’ Commission of New York and Connecticut
A J : The African Immigrants’ Commission is a newly born nonprofit organization. When was it created?
MK :The African Immigrants’ Commission was launched on December 25th, 2018.We are a community-based advocacy group. Our mission is to Promote our Arts & Culture, educate our community of our rights and of our civic duties in effect to empower our communities. We will also advocate for the issues that directly affect our communities. In addition, we will act as the link between the elected officials and the African communities of NY and CT.
A J : How many members does your organization have and what are the criteria to be a member?
MK : We are a new organization. However, our goal is to be the biggest and most efficient African immigrants’ organization in New York and in Connecticut. Then again, our strength is not in our simple numbers. Our strength is in how many members active. I have been part of groups with 500 people in their mailing list but only 6 people are active. We want all our registered members to be engaged and active.
The criteria to be a member are: we are a community advocacy group, we are open to everyone to join us in advocating for our community.
A J : Why did you add Connecticut?
MK : We originally wanted to be an advocacy group for the Tri-state area, meaning New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. However, New Jersey already has an African Commission and they are our brothers and sisters and we plan on partnering with them soon to work on some projects for our community. New York State and Connecticut do not have an African commission covering all NY and all CT. We do have groups advocating for specific boroughs but not the entire state. this is where we come in, we cover all New York State and all Connecticut.
A J : Is your organization a political or a social group? how does this benefit our community?
MK : We are both a political and a social group in a sense. However, we are first a political action group that advocates for the needs of our community. Our main purpose is to be engaged politically, to engage with our local political leaders, to make sure that they understand the needs of our community and to help them serve our communities efficiently. We also can be a social group in a way that engages in non-political activities such as organizing events that promote our arts and culture.
A J : You are organizing in February 18, 2019 a workshop on social services. Why this workshop is focusing on social services?
MK : Yes! On Presidents’ Day, Monday, February 18th, 2019, location: Urgent Care at 1210 Webster Avenue, Bronx NY. We are conducting a workshop for our community called Social Services 101. This is a part of our stronger community initiative. The purpose of this workshop is to educate our community about the social services that the city has to offer so that the people can help themselves and their families. In many cases our community members don’t know about services that are available to them. This workshop is particularly important to everyone.
A J : Twenty people will attend the workshop. Why did you choose only 20 people and what was the criteria of selection?
MK : We have decided to cap the number of people attending the workshop due to the capacity of the venue. There is a very high demand for this workshop. We will have to conduct a second one later before the year is out.
A J : Do you plan to organize other activities?
Besides the Social Services 101 workshop, we are also planning a Black History Month Forum on Leadership and Conflict resolution. We will give out the details as soon as we finish ironing everything out. We will continue to have events that will be beneficial to our communities all throughout the year.
A J : Does your organization work in partnership with other organizations?
MK : African Immigrants’ Commission is open to partnering and working with all community organization that share the same vision and same mission with us. We believe in unity and we believe that it makes us stronger and most effective as a community advocacy group. Consequently, we encourage all organization to reach out to us to see how we can join and work together to serve our community.
A J : What your organization can do concretely for immigrants who live in the United States of America in general and particularly those who live in New York and more importantly for those who need legal documents?
MK : What we can do for our community is to educate and inform the community of the different resources that are available to them. We are also here to advocate on the community’s behalf. If you are facing immigration problems, you can contact us, we can refer you to an immigration lawyer that can take your case pro-bono. If you need assistance to apply for citizenship, you can contact us, we have people that have volunteered their time to help our community. Moreover, if you are facing housing problems such as eviction, you can also contact us we have people that know the system and they can direct you to the right direction. We can encourage everyone to like our Facebook page at African Immigrants’ Commission of NY& CT for more resources.
A J : Do you have anything else to say?
MK : Historically our community has been under served, therefore we created the African Immigrants’ Commission of NY & Ct. We encourage all the young leaders out there to join us, work with us as a team to better our communities. No one is paying us for all this work. However, we believe that we cannot sit back and let other people do our work for us. We must stay engaged with our local politicians so that they can better serve our communities. If there is a particular issue that you want us to take on, please contact us by calling me at 917-500-5440 or Email: Africanimmigrantscommission@gmail.com.
Khady Racidat Kone Diaby, the African Immigrant’ s Commission commissioner on Family Affairs
A J : Can you introduce yourselves to our readers?
Mrs. Khady Diaby ( K D) has over 8 years’ experience working with community-based organizations in New York, Trained as a Public Health Advocate, Consultant with the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on Childcare, Direct Service Provider and Certified Interpreter, Host on Radio Samatiguila show where she addresses families’ issues in French and local languages.
Prior to that, Mrs. Diaby was a Community Health Worker (working with women and children) and a Community Organizer where she advocated for the minimum wage.
Mrs. Diaby received in 2016 a recognition from the Mayor Bill de Blasio for her work in the community. She was acknowledged Peace Ambassador by UPF (Universal Peace Federation), Best Communicator on a peer Pilot Program by the DOHMH and received a Certificate of Excellence for her support of Families and youth in the Community by the Citywide Parent Advisor. She is Cultural Ambassador for Ivory Coast for the New York Multicultural Festival and recently Commissioner on Families Affairs for African Immigration Commission.
Mrs. Diaby is also a founder and CEO of MAKO (Mother Aissatou Keita Organization) focus on Healthy Families and bringing resources in the Community.
Mrs. Diaby hold a M.A on International Business in Ivory Coast and has gained a lot of certificates through her work training.
You are the African Immigrant’ s Commission commissioner on Family Affairs. What is the role you play as a commissioner on Family Affairs?
K D : As you know, Family is a key of all society. And as a Commissioner on Family Affairs, our role is to empower families. In other words, we help families to be strong, independent and healthy, and we advocate for them and educate them through workshop on Families issues, connect them with adequate training and bringing resources to them by making community referrals, and make sure that they are aware of all resources, which can be beneficial for them.
A J : There are many broken African families in New York such as divorces, issues related to children, and much more. Do you deal with these issues too and how?
K D : As a Commissioner of Family Affairs, our role is to support all families dealing with all kind of issues and broken families. But more importantly, we try to support families by providing advices and support to avoid broken family.
Also, children related issue like mental health, childcare education, healthcare access is our key points as we want our children to be successful in this competitive world.
A J : As a commissioner on Family Affairs, what are your advices for African families as they are struggling to live a better life in a society that is different from African society?
K D : My advices to Africans Families are first, to never forget their identity and culture but to be opened, such as embracing the culture of their host country and others culture. As I always say “We learn in Diversity”
It’s important for families to be involved and engaged in their new country life and to respect the rules and regulations of their host country and to participate in activities with organizations like AIC and we will invite them to come and join us.
.A J : Do you have anything else to add?
I am thankful to the African Journal our partner, and to all the families who encourage us and support us.
We will be there for them and we will try our best to make our children successful.
We believe that we have a mission to accomplish and as Africans we are part of that. We always support our families.
Thanks to all partners, supporters and everybody can contact us to join us. We are in the community and for the community.
Menepelle J. Nuhann ( M J N ) the national vice president of African Immigrant’ s Commission
A J : Can you introduce yourselves in few words?
M J N : Growing up poor in Liberia, striving for the privilege of getting an education, he graduated from the St. Francis High School with honors and dreamed of coming to the United States. Once in the United States, he continued to struggle for a better life, graduating with a bachelor’s degree from the College of New Rochelle and embarking on his career in education. He currently works with The New York Department of Education and he also enjoys working with and teaching children how to build games and computers. Mr. Nuhann also graduated with an MBA degree from Colorado Technical University and got a MS in Cyber Security, specializing into the IT area. He is the founder and President of Vision for Children in Liberia, Inc. and the Executive director of Oneplace-Onevoice studio & web designs, a register studio in the Bronx that serves as the voice of the African Immigrants’ Commission of New York and Connecticut. His dream is “to build schools for children in Liberia so that they can go to school for free to enhance their lives.
A J : What is your role as the national vice president of African Immigrants’ Commission?
M J N : Well, as a vice president of the AIC, my role is to oversee all committees, making sure that everyone get involves into serving communities. We believe that our communities are underserved and the only way for us to get involve is to educate our people to go out there to voice out their opinions to their various leaders. As a national vice president, I want to encourage all our various committees to continue empowering our people to do more into their communities. Moreover, working in collaboration with the President to promote peace, love and unity into our community because I strongly believe together, we can do better for our people.
A J : Do you have anything else to tell us?
M J N : Yes, I do: According to research, I found out that contemporary migration from sub-Saharan Africa to the United States, which is a relatively recent phenomenon, has risen steadily over the past several decades. The sub-Saharan African immigrant population roughly doubled every decade between 1980 and 2010 and increased by 29 percent over the following five years. In 2015, 1.7 million sub-Saharan Africans lived in the United States, accounting for a small but growing share (4 percent) of the 43.3 million immigrants in the United States. They also made up 83 percent of the 2.1 million immigrants from Africa, the remainder coming from North Africa.
The current flow of sub-Saharan Africans consists of skilled professionals, individuals seeking reunification with relatives, and refugees from war-torn countries. So, we can see that we live in a great country with such population and being underserved and this is the time for us to empower our people with all the skills necessary to participate in every activity with their leaders into their communities. There is a saying “you must be in it to win it. We’ve discovered that our people want to sit for power to walk to them and this is not how it works. Lastly, we believe going out there to express what in your minds will help leaders to understand your needs so as a national vice president, my duty is to make sure to work with our president to ensure that our people feel very involve.
By Bazona Barnabe Bado