In Conversation With . . . Africa Genesis Foundation, Part II

The Africa Genesis Foundation (AGF) was born in the Labour Ward of Lwala Hospital in Northern Uganda in 1991 and was registered as a not-for-profit corporation in 1994 by American feminist theologian Dr. Colleen Weiden. The foundation is a joint American-African organization that fosters health improvements for underprivileged peoples in rural parts of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania. Recently, Hosea Ayienga Masiga, Executive Secretary of AGF’s Regional Board of Directors, took the time to answer some questions from Wanda Waterman St. Louis. (Read the first part of the interview here.)

Why I Got Involved

When I visited the AGF website, I was captivated by the programs and by the credentials of their officers. I was excited to join AGF, hoping to be involved with their Program Service activities. I was particularly touched by AGF work in Lwala Hospital in Northern Uganda and Naalarami Clinic in Arusha; both were really deep in the rural area.

With the passage of time, my involvement with AGF has become much more than just a job. AGF has become my lifestyle, to a great extent. My growth has been because of first, the work I do, which touches and positively impacts lives of the underserved and destitute. Second, I have a great boss, Dr. Colleen A. Weiden. Third, I can travel to AGF Program Service sites, sites that have tremendously impacted my outlook. My continued involvement with AGF is based on my desire to help people; even if I impact only one human life, It’s worth the effort.

What are the biggest obstacles to the work of Africa Genesis?

? Fluctuation of financial income paralleling world economic downturn;
? Inadequate motivation and co-operation of persons, especially of volunteers;
? Divergent interests, some of which may be conflicting, of parties involved; and
? Lack of public interest, awareness, and understanding of poverty in other countries of the world.

Although all of these obstacles are tied to each other, overall the principal obstacle is lack of adequate financial resources. Lack of finances causes most of the other obstacles, which in turn fuel further financial inadequacy.

Why Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania?

I tend to agree with the joke that the borders of Africa were drawn by a couple of bored mzungus (white people). The borders are artificial. I have very close relatives?aunts, uncles, and cousins?in Uganda, yet I am Kenyan. Some communities?Bukusu, Masai, Samia, and Teso?were cut in the middle by the boundaries, placing some of us in one country and the rest of the relatives in another. Yet we speak the same language, understand each other, and have similar socio-cultural values. I submit that it is on the basis of this historical unity that the East African Community was founded, with Burundi and Rwanda enjoined.

AGF founders, some of whom were Africans, recognized and appreciated this historical unity and also felt that Uganda alone would be a narrow focus in terms of interest and qualifying corporate funding guidelines. AGF also wanted to take advantage of the ports of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and Mombasa, Kenya, for receiving shipment of containers. Today, our directors hail from the US, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Bermuda, so we are a diverse international organization.

?Identity Cards?

I remember Dr. Colleen recounting her experience with ?identity cards? in Uganda. Fraught with the after-effects of a case of malaria, Dr. Colleen needed to use the facilities on a road trip. Her African colleagues led her to roadside facilities?luckily, a cotton field with needed soft tufts.

However, Dr. Colleen didn’t realize that others had left their ?identity cards? by the roadside too, and those ?ID cards? promptly jumped onto the bottom of her shoe. Due to rebel activity in the area, the military were positioned near a small lake on the opposite roadside. The soldiers roared with laughter at seeing the mzungu (white, presumably European) wiping and cleaning the shoe in the water; language was not a barrier that day.

What’s Next?

Fundraising! We need resources! We can do all the envisioning and planning that we like, but without financial and material resources, all our plans and visions remain just that?plans and visions. Therefore, we have taken concrete actions to improve and popularize the AGF website, [and use] Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube as forums for publicizing AGF work and advancing AGF fundraising initiatives.

We give assurance that any donation made to AGF shall be put [to] a decidedly worthy [cause] with integrity, accountability, and transparency.

Our hope is that this interview will help someone know about AGF and enable us to give hope to just one more person.

Africa Genesis Foundation is registered with the Secretary of State of Illinois as a charitable, not-for-profit corporation, the Office of the Attorney General under the Charitable Trust Act and Solicitation for Charity Act in Illinois, the Internal Revenue Service as a 501 (c) 3 tax-exempt organization in the US, and the NGO Council of the Republic of Kenya as a non-governmental organization (NGO). To contact AGF: AGF Home Office, P.O. Box 224, Utica, IL 61373-0224 USA. Email: africagenesis@yahoo.com. AGF Regional Office, P.O. Box 10695 GPO, 00100 Nairobi, Kenya. Email: africagenesisfdn@yahoo.com. Website: www.africagenesis.org.

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