In a continent that that is rife with injustices, and social and economic inequalities, it is only right that those on the privileged end of the chasm do what they can to help the underprivileged. The understanding of this moral obligation is what has prompted several people to start non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to give back to their communities across Africa.
This article will particularly address some NGOs who are taking unique approaches to giving back. The founders of these NGOs have identified needs that have been unmet in their communities and are mobilising efforts and resources to meet them.
Chess in Slums Africa
As the name implies, Chess in Slums Africa is an NGO that works to bring the magic of chess to slums in Africa – so far, the movement has only been active in Lagos, Nigeria. The founder of Chess in Slums, Babatunde Onakoya believes that just as a pawn can go on to become a king in chess, kids in slums can go on to become kings and queens with just the right push by the right person. Since 2018, he and his team have decided to be those right people for over 200 children in impoverished communities They have used chess as a tool to improve cognition and empower the minds of these children, with the aim of having them become masters at the game who can compete globally and be exposed to a wealth of opportunities.
Apart from chess training, their workstream includes mentorship by chess enthusiasts and other model members of the society, skills acquisition, and life-long educational scholarship programs. For the kids, chess has been more than just a game; it has helped them experience the thrill of winning something, the dignity of being treated as people and not just “street kids”, and the ability to become independent thinkers. It has shown them that “it is possible to do great things from a small place” as Babatunde Onakoya often says.
Using social media as a bedrock, the team has been able to appeal to the hearts of thousands all over and even beyond the continent to be a part of the cause. A number of social media users have opened their homes up to some of the kids, promising to take them off the streets and provide them with accommodation and education. Chess in Slums has seen endorsements from several Nigerian celebrities, foreign media publications and even the likes of American celebrity Paris Hilton.
Sistah Sistah Foundation
Sistah Sistah Foundation (SSF) is run by a group of young feminists in Zambia. Over the past 3 years, their work has mainly focused on sexual, gender based violence (GBV) and sexual reproductive health rights. They provide support for victims of sexual violence and GBV by helping them report their cases, connecting them with much needed legal and medical help, and helping them find jobs and safe homes.
SSF’s programmes include an End Period Poverty Campaign which provides free pads to underprivileged girls and women as well as sex workers. Through workshops and rallies, they educate girls and young women on sexual reproductive health rights and the dangers of rape culture. Their Arts and Crafts programme helps children explore their creative side through art, dance, music, poetry, design and various crafts. Their Literacy programme also includes writing classes and book clubs for the kids. The Foundation also seeks to provide fun activities for the kids, helping them to experience a normal childhood; they organise movie screenings, parties, pageants and careers day events.
The Foundation not only works to equip girls and young women with knowledge and needed resources, but also with a voice that has the strength to demand equality and an end to oppression. SSF organises protests, online activism and petitions to make sure the government is doing their part to empower women through the right programmes and policies. Through their various programmes and activism, the Sistah Sistah Foundation has been able to build a solid “Sistahood” for their groups in Zambia.
The Books2Africa NGO was founded by African students in the UK in 2012. The organisation aims to promote a culture of recycling and improve the quality of education for students in Africa through the collection, processing and delivery of books, computers and other educational resources to institutions and communities all over Africa.
The organisation’s foundational principles are African-led collaboration, universal education and sustainability. They achieve sustainability not only in the environmental sense by diverting quality books from UK landfill sites, but also in the financial sense as they use about 20% of donated books to generate funds through sales in their charity shop. In order to promote tolerance and inter-learning in the global community, the organisation sends foreign literary works to readers in Africa and promotes African literary works to readers in the UK. This helps to ensure that donors and beneficiaries are equal collaborators.
Since their inception, Books2Africa has delivered over 2 million books to over 20 countries in West, East, Central, North and Southern Africa. They have four distribution centres in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and Ghana where individuals and organisations can browse and request for books.
Ingressive for Good
Ingressive for Good (I4G) – established in 2020 – is an edtech NGO which exists to equip African children and youths with tech skills, enabling them to contribute to the social and economic development of the continent. I4G hopes to achieve this through 3 main schemes: micro-scholarships, technical training and talent placement.
The micro-scholarships scheme has them grant partial scholarships to computer science final year students in need at prestigious African universities. The scholarship also includes the provision of standard laptops to support their education. Their technical training scheme has them partnering with known tech trainers to offer relevant resources and practical training in coding and other tech skills. Their talent placement scheme involves providing their top trained and skilled I4G alumni in jobs at reputable tech companies.
I4G’s specific goals are to empower 1 million African tech talents and to see to the employment of 5,000 of their alumni in jobs in the next five years. They are well on their way to achieving these goals, with thousands of beneficiaries all over the continent.