Cause of the Month: Urban Youth for Africa

Urban Youth for Africa
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Screen-Shot-2013-07-01-at-2.38.49-PMSix simple words: “the longing for peace is universal.” That’s how Urban Youth for Africa describes the beauty of its mission—uniting inner-city teens from Kalamazoo, Michigan, who’ve experienced gang violence with African youth who “live in a land ravaged by civil war and corruption.”

Part of the Kalamazoo Deacons Conference, the program has been sending teams of teens from Kalamazoo over to Africa since 2008. The aim isn’t to “save Africa,” but instead to build mutually transformative relationships and help share resources to create a brighter future for all youth. Projects have included repainting and restoring an old church in an African slum and helping to install water purification systems in poor communities. The American students also spend lots of time immersing themselves in the local culture and seeing what life is like in a third-world country. (Some of them had never even seen Lake Michigan, even though they live very close to it! A whole new world, indeed.)

Lots of preparation goes into sending a group, too. Those chosen meet up weekly to study Sierra Leone’s culture and history and read books like Boy Soldier; they also watch flicks like Bling and Blood Diamond and also go through heavy leadership training and team bonding to get ready for the trip. And here’s the cool part: another team is leaving this July! (Meet the people who are going here.)

So how can you support the efforts of Urban Youth for Africa? Let us count the ways:

Donate to the cause. Every little bit helps! Click here to give.

Sponsor a student. If you want to know exactly where your moolah is going, you can choose to sponsor specific aspects of the trip, like a passport ($135), food/water ($230) or even an excursion to a monkey sanctuary ($40). Get the full 411 here.

See what the Urban Youth for Africa trip to Senegal in 2010 was like:

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