The African Child: Vision 2020 is a non-profit organization recently brought to Houston with origins in Ghana. I interviewed the Houston Office’s Executive Director, Erin Stiles, and Elizabeth Opara, Executive Director of Fundraising and Communications about what African Child is and how Houston natives can help.
Check out my interview with Erin and Liz below:
1.What is the African Child: Vision 2020?
The African Child Vision 2020 is a registered NGO (Non- Government Organization)/ Non-Profit in Ghana, West Africa and here in Houston, TX
The African Child has two initiatives: The Global Academy & Water 4 Youth
The Global Academy takes street children, not in the sense that they are homeless, but not registered in school due to selling items on the street to financially contribute to the family.
With permission from their parents, we enroll them in school and pay ALL expenses associated with their education (uniforms, books, supplies, food, water, medical & dental).
Since inception, The Global Academy has educated over 1,000 children. Currently, there are 120 students registered in The Global Academy with every grade level represented.
The numerous success stories that come out of The Global Academy are what really make it worthwhile. We have a student that was selling water on the side of the road in 2008 who is now in college studying Neuroscience.
Water 4 Youth delivers clean portable drinking water to over 155 underprivileged schools in Ghana.
We provide all donors with a delivery confirmation within 4-6 weeks. I do this to ensure the donors that their money is being allocated properly.
The Delivery Confirmations include the following;
- Name of School
- Number of Bags of Water Delivered
- Name & Number Of Principle/ Headmaster
- Delivery Photos.
2. How and when did the mission get started in Ghana?
I personally started this initiative after visiting Ghana and witnessing the World Water Crisis first hand. Needless to say it broke my heart.
Since I believe that education is the most precious gift and resource that anyone can possess or give, I wanted to focus my efforts on providing clean portable drinking water to schools and students in need.
I saved up enough money to return a few months later and met with several major beverage companies in the country. I was able to secure a partnership with a Vincien Beverages. I take the orders here stateside and they use their trucks, and employees to deliver the water to the schools in need. Vincien Beverages provides me with delivery photos.
The African Child/ The Global Academy was established in 2008. Water 4 Youth was established December 2013.
3. What brought The African Child to Houston? How long have you been here?
Shortly after returning from Ghana, I relocated to Houston. I am a Houston newbie. I have only been here since January of 2014. I wanted to make my life’s purpose to help others. When I was in Ghana I saw how a little goes a long way. It does not take much to make a difference. Houston is a real city with people that care about others, so it felt like the perfect place to get the US branch of The African Child off the ground.
4. Explain the your business in making organic products.
The products are made with organic ingredients imported from Ghana. I wanted a way to bring awareness to the World Water Crisis. The products not only assist in delivering clean, drinking water to schools in need, but we are also supporting the women/mothers with importing the Shea Butter.
Currently we offer 2 products; Scented Whipped Shea Butter and Organic liquid Gold Soap.
The Shea Butter comes in 4oz & 8oz. The Organic liquid gold soap comes in a 4oz size.
The Organic Liquid Gold soap is made using only plantain that grows in soil that has gold in it. Ghana is known for its abundance of gold, so the gold in the soil add additional medicinal properties to the products.
Benefits of Shea Butter:
- Daily skin moisturizer (face and body)
- Dry skin relief
- Dry scalp
- Skin rash- including diaper rash
- Skin peeling, after tanning
- Blemishes and wrinkles
- Itching skin due to dryness
- Shaving cream to reduce razor irritation
- Small skin wounds
- Skin cracks
- Soften tough skin on feet (especially heels)
- Stretch mark prevention during pregnancy
- Minor burns
- Sun and wind protection
- Even skin tone
- Reduce blemishes and scarring
- Eliminating scalp irritation from dryness or chemical processing
- Preventing bumps after shaving
- Reducing acne (especially in combination with African Black Soap)
- Absorbs quickly without leaving a greasy residue
- Helps restore elasticity to skin
- Restores luster to hair
Benefits of Organic Liquid Gold Soap:
- Improves Skin Tone
- Fades Skin Discolorations
- Reduces Inflammation and Skin Irritations
- Helps to Heal Problem Skin
- Has Deep Cleansing Action
- Effective Exfoliate
- Protects Against Photo Aging & Free Radicals
Once we inform the consumer of the health benefits of the products they are eager to try it.
We make all of the products by hand. We travel to different shows, conventions, markets, beauty salons, and spas around Texas selling the product to raise money.
The purchase of a 4oz. Whipped Shea Butter delivers 2 bags of water (60 Sachets).
8oz. Shea Butter Delivers 4 bags of water (120) sachets. Organic Liquid Gold Soap delivers 2 bags of Water (60 Sachets).
5. Outside of monetary donations, how can someone assist The African Child?
Since we are new to Houston, I am looking to set up an advisory board, with connected members of the community/ city that could point us in the right direction, share contacts and advise us on the pulse of the city.
Others can also assist by offering their services (Web & Graphic Design, Printing, Volunteer, Establish Water Drives at their companies) Donating of space and locations for events. Whatever they have to offer we would be glad to receive.
6. Within the next year, what are the goals for the North American office?
Within the next year would love to have our products in major retailers around the country. We want to be able to hit a larger consumer base and let them know that when you purchase our products you are purchasing with a purpose.
Also, within the next year I would love to have The Global Academy second campus opened. My dream is to build The Global Academy all around Ghana, West Africa and beyond.
Lastly, my goal is to have Water 4 Youth in other countries that are also affected by the world water crisis.
7. Why are you passionate about Africa?
Erin: I became passionate about Africa after my first visit. Just being able to see the people, culture and land. Also the children really stole my heart, I am born and raised in Los Angeles, The Land of Excess. So to see children who compared to how I was raised, people would consider poor, yet they are immensely happy, appreciative and have this insatiable hunger for knowledge and education. The value system, the sense of community, they are their brothers keeper. The unity was inspiring.
Liz: I am most passionate about Africa due to my background. I am Nigerian and was raised knowing that my home and roots are in West Africa. Everything in Africa is Naturally beautiful: the land, the people, the culture.