In February of 2014 myself and other young Africans in Edmonton founded Diaspora African Youth Association (DAYA) in order to educate and empower African youth to serve and give back to the city that they now call home in Canada. We went on to put countless hours of volunteer across Edmonton on issues related to youth at risk, homelessness, refugees & Migrants, mentorship and championing education. We also hosted our own events which brought community leaders and young people together to talk about the positive contribution of African youth to the society, African history and culture. In February of 2016 I led a delegation of DAYA to the United Nations in New York City for Youth Assembly. We entered in a Social Venture Competition and we were the only Canadian winning team, among three from around the world. We were then received by Permanent Mission of Canada to the United nations by the Ambassador and learned more about United Nations and Canada's role. We had received a grant from the competition and went on to establish a mentorship program called Youth Empowerment and Integration focusing on refugees and migrants youth, education, volunteer and making Edmonton home. In the Summer of that same year I was invited back to the Youth Assembly at United Nations to mentor youth from around the world who were trying to establish their social ventures. One of the groups I mentored were Chinese youth who went on to the next round of the competition. Young people have much to offer to the world. They care about issues that affects them and humanity at large.
At the moment DAYA is no longer active and the last mission we did was in early 2018 when we supported a community organization in Eastern Uganda for the construction of classrooms to educate children. DAYA not only championed education but its members led by example. Some members now hold diplomas, degrees and even a Masters in different fields. Even though the organization is no longer operating, the members continue to give back to their communities through volunteering and their respective employment. We had a strong 5 years run for which we contributed to the transformation of lives and grew along the way whether personally or professionally. I was honored and humbled to serve as the President of the organization throughout. I was challenged and learned a lot from each member and they greatly contributed to my growth. Whether it was at meetings, events, volunteering or the trip to United Nations, I always had the best seat in the house where I witnessed first hand what passionate and determined young people can achieve when united. It was always a pleasure to offer reference letters or over the phone for members applying to schools, jobs or even more volunteering. I didn't receive any financial rewards for my position, but the greatest reward as a leader was seeing members doing well in their respective lives while giving back to the community. I learned what it is like to operate a non-profit organization. No matter where I go or who I become in life, DAYA will forever remain in my heart. We all benefited being part of the organization, and for that, I am forever grateful to have worked with such amazing youth. They were always ready to invest time, energy and always money (we were self-funded) to carry on the mission. #DAYAForever
DAYA members hard at work in the kitchen preparing breakfast for youth at risk from Youth Empowerment & Support Services (YESS) organization on Dec 26, 2015. Also, in December of 2015 and 2016, we held a clothes drive where we asked family and friends for clothes and dropped them to YESS.
This was one of our events which was held at Northern Alberta Institute of Technology in partnership with Canadian Roots Exchange. We brought a leader from African community to talk about African history and culture and also brought one from Indigenous community to talk about their history and culture. This was done in order to educate and bring together the respective communities to build a safe, strong and prosper Canada.