The Continent of Africa has been the subject of much discussion and description over the last two centuries, and since the withdrawal of colonial overlords, many excellent charities have devoted countless dollars, and millions of hours of hard work to relieve conditions involving hunger and sickness for people from Cape Town to the Mediterranean Sea. Many millions of people have been helped over the last sixty years by organizations as diverse as UNICEF, the Red Cross, Catholic Charities, World Vision and a vast number of others. A.G.Y.E.I. proudly follows in this tradition but approaches the multitude of problems in our own, innovative ways.
So why yet another charity?
The African Great Youth Education Initiative, Inc., is an outgrowth of a call for help from a small group of unrelated African boys, located primarily in the countries of Ghana and Nigeria. The first of these was an 18 year old Ghanaian boy, Agyei Kwame, who initially asked for help in January of 2006 and whose given name inspired the acronym that became the name of the charity. The first grant was given and funded privately by Tom von Zabern to help Agyei remain enrolled in computer school at a time when his savings were exhausted and he was facing expulsion for lack of tuition money. As the months passed, Agyei needed additional help with medical bills to combat malaria and other issues, and what had started off as a one-time gift became ongoing support to help him on his way to independence.
During the ensuing five years, Agyei was joined by others in both Ghana and Nigeria, who needed help. Each young individual was in a different situation, but all had the common characteristic of being ineligible for help from established major charities, as these are focused on helping parents with small children as well as young orphaned children. During these early years, Tom von Zabern coined the term “THE INVISIBLE GENERATION” to describe young people who are too old to qualify for assistance with larger charities, and who do not yet possess the qualifications and professional accreditation to overcome the grip of poverty once and for all.
In time, the charitable work that was later to become A.G.Y.E.I., Inc., evolved into a structured schematic of giving grants and assistance. One which increasingly placed emphasis on providing long term comprehensive support of each young person being helped. It became increasingly apparent that long term care would enable the young recipient to be nurtured, educated and guided to a point of critical mass in his or her life, at which it would be impossible for him or her to backslide into poverty and neglect.
This became the blueprint for today’s formal charitable foundation and its work. Not only are educational objectives pursued, but also essential human core values of honor, integrity, compassion and generosity, with which the program seeks to imbue each student.
Each young person in the group is encouraged to clearly formulate and articulate his or her educational and career goals, and is then guided through the academic curriculum or vocational training to turn that dream into reality. Neither Ghana nor Nigeria currently possess any widely available scholarship support system for needy students and school and college tuitions in both countries are charged on a cash basis and are beyond the means of the average person. This structure upholds a de-facto economic caste system which locks low-income families in their place on the economic scale and makes it extremely difficult for a young person from such a family to break through to a more rewarding existence. The help rendered by A.G.Y.E.I., Inc., is the only chance our recipients had to escape poverty and pursue professional careers.