East Africans Gather In Manhattan To Support Needy During Holidays

Saturday, December 18, 2010
By ugandansabroad

By Rebecca Harshbarger

(Ugandans Abroad, NEW YORK)— Last night, Ugandans, Kenyans, Rwandans, Tanzanians, and others in the diaspora gathered in Manhattan to raise money to support needy East Africans back home during the festive season.

Money from the East African holiday mixer went to support the Ugandan Orphans' Fund and Support HIV/AIDS Victims Rwanda.

Donations collected at the event, as well as money for raffle tickets, went to support the Uganda Orphans Fund and Support HIV/AIDS Women of Rwanda.  The after-work holiday mixer was held at Naked Lunch, a lounge in Tribeca along Thompson Street in Manhattan.  Ugandan Merchandise, a business run by two East African women in the diaspora, also sold merchandise benefiting Uganda and Rwanda artisans, as well as women living with HIV.

“I’m just so passionate about my people back home,” said Harriet Zaffoni, the New Jersey-based founder of Ugandan Merchandise.  ”When they’re sad or happy, I’m sad or happy.  If my people are suffering through something terrible, I’m affected, no matter how far I am.”

The Ugandan Orphans Funds, a beneficiary of the fundraiser, was started in 2007 by Lorna Pitcher, a woman based in Canada.  Since 2007, the fund has paid school fees and given scholastic materials to 163 orphans and vulnerable children.  It has established a coeducational vocational school in Barlonyo, the site of a 2004 LRA massacre that took the lives of 300 villagers, and set up seven income-generating activities for the community it serves, such as creating paper jewelry, tailoring, and oxen ploughing.

Harriet Zaffoni, the founder of Ugandan Merchandise, organized the event in Manhattan last night.

The fund has also paid tuition for university, nursing school, and teachers’ college for seven of the fourteen Aboke girls that were held captive by the Lord’s Resistance Army for eight years.  The money given to the Ugandan Orphans Fund will go towards feeding orphaned and vulnerable children in Uganda during the holiday season.

“People in the diaspora need to feed the disadvantaged back home during the holidays,” said Zaffoni.  ”It’s the greatest thing we can do.”

Support HIV/AIDS Victims Rwanda, the second beneficiary, provides lodging, food, clothing, and other necessities for Rwandan women living with HIV/AIDS.  Many women living with HIV in Rwanda are victims of sexual violence during the genocide in 1994.  All of the proceeds from the Rwandan baskets sold at the holiday mixer went to the nonprofit as well.

Ugandans Abroad spoke to different East Africans at the event who attended, to learn what made them come out on a bitterly cold night.  29-year-old David Clein, who DJed the event and lives in New Jersey, told Ugandans Abroad that giving back to East Africa is very important to him throughout the year.  In addition to sending money home, he also like send home clothes to Uganda with his friends and relatives when they travel to Uganda.  ”We need to give back,” he said.  ”For a person who has nothing, there’s no hope.”

Clein appreciated the event’s focus on women in Uganda and Rwanda, and said he is concerned about violence against women back home, particularly in polygamous households.  ”Violence and HIV are related,” he said.  ”[And] the spread of HIV is high.”

Businesswomen like New York-based Ugandan Rhoda Wasswas of Afrho Chique want to help Uganda and Rwanda during the holiday season-- and all year round.

Martin Harrich, an administrative officer at the U.N.’s Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs, was eager to help support needy Ugandans and Rwandans.  ”First, you have handicrafts here from Rwanda, and Uganda.  By importing them, we are helping,” he said.  ”Secondly, this is a charity event.  During the time of Christmas and the holiday season, it’s important to keep our eyes open and help people in the developing part of the world.  There’s a magnitude of challenges, from the environment to economic instability. Events like this help to improve the economic status of countries in Africa like Uganda.”

Jane Wu, a private wealth advisor for Fogel Neale, also spoke to usabout her interest in supporting Ugandan Merchandise.  ”Harriet’s really giving women empowerment,” she said.  ”Tonight’s party gives us a big chance to do something for women all over the world.”

The event was planned by Afrho Chique,  a business run by Rhoda Wasswas, a Ugandan woman based in New York City.  Afrho Chique is an event-planning service for Afro-inspired events in the metropolitan area.

For more information:

-To support or learn more about the Ugandan Orphans Fund, please click here.

-To help Rwandan victims of gender-based violence living with HIV, please visit this website.

-To support women in Rwanda and Uganda, shop for home and fashion items produced in East Africa here.

-To learn more about Afrho Chique and become a fan on Facebook, click here.

If you find this information helpful, please

to Ugandans Abroad.

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3 Responses to “East Africans Gather In Manhattan To Support Needy During Holidays”

  1. ABS TRAVEL 212 447 1717

    Dear Harriet,

    It was great to be a part of this event at Naked Lunch in Manhattan. Your efforts and mission is applausible, ABS TRAVEL TEAM, will work with you and Ugandasabroad to reach your Goals.

    Rebecca, it was nice to see you and your team, who bring Africa close to us!

    Keep up the good work.

    Best wishes
    212 447 1717-NEW YORK
    $10 of every transaction we do at ABS TRAVEL is donated to these causes. The traveler make the dicission, where this money should be sent to. HELP US HELP YOU!

  2. Hello Becky,

    Thank you for this article. It was a blessing to do what all those who came out did. We need more people to realize the need of working together. I love this kind of spirit. It enables us to empower each other and develop together. There are so many people who need our help and if we continue working together, sky would be the limit. Solidarity is the key.

  3. Thanks so much Pius for your support! I adored seeing you and wish you the best.


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