ASPEN, COLO… Founded in Aspen in 1988, Friends of Africa International announced that it has restructured its nonprofit organization to include an executive board of directors that will govern activities of the Aspen chapter as well as two new chapters located in Scottsdale, Arizona and Nairobi Kenya. The move expands the organization’s agenda to support new projects and raise awareness about humanitarian and wildlife concerns throughout the continent of Africa.
Co-chaired by the organization’s founders, Bonnie Bishop and Scarlett Adams, Friends of Africa International headquarters will remain in Aspen, Colorado, and will provide oversight and support to the new chapters. Aspen locals, Chip Bishop, James True and Karinjo DeVore, long-standing members of the Aspen-based Friends of Africa Board of Directors were elected to serve on the Executive Board along with former Aspen residents, Kire Godal, representing the Nairobi chapter and Snowden Bishop, representing the Scottsdale chapter. Wayne Paulson, a long time Aspen Resident was elected as president of the Aspen chapter.
Front and center to the Friends of Africa roster of activity is a school and medical facility building project taking place in northwestern Kenya. When Board Member Kire Godal, a National Geographic filmmaker, requested permission to film the sacred rituals of the Pokot Tribe in 2009, she was granted unprecedented access in exchange for a pledge to build the remote tribal region’s first school.
“When Kire approached me about the Pokot school project, I was happy to take on the challenge, and delighted to learn that the Aspen Board shared my passion for the project. It was only natural that Friends of Africa International take the project under its wings,” said FOAI founder Bonnie Bishop. “Education will help to bring peace to the troubled Pokot region where children, by the age of nine, are brandishing weapons to protect their cattle, the tribe’s livelihood.”
Bishop, who moved from Aspen to Scottsdale in 2001, set up the Scottsdale Friends of Africa International chapter in order to begin fundraising efforts for the Pokot school and medical facility project. With the help of 13 members elected to the Scottsdale chapter Board of Directors, fundraising for the school commenced with a successful benefit gala last April. Since then, the group has raised enough money to build the school. Future benefit events are planned in Aspen, Nairobi and Scottsdale to raise additional money that will be needed to complete construction and establish the Pokot Region’s only medical clinic.
“It was troubling to learn that a Pokot Mama must travel, mostly on foot, for two days in scorching heat to take her child to the nearest medical facility,” said Bishop. The medical facility will actually take over an abandoned Red Cross compound located on the outskirts of the Pokot region. FOAI is currently seeking donations and partners to help staff and bring supplies to the compound so that it is ready by mid 2012 for full operation.
The organization is now seeking donations to finalize the first school building, a preschool, which will be provisioned with a solar panel and plumbing, desks and a teacher’s apartment. Bricks are currently being made, and will be etched with names of the school’s donors. Future gala benefits will raise funds for additional school building to accommodate primary and secondary school children as they age into more advanced classes.
For more information about Friends of Africa International, please visit friendsofafricainternational.org. To make a donation toward the Pokot school and medical facility project, purchase a named brick, or contribute provisions, please visit friendsofafricaaz.org or call (480) 363-0000. Friends of Africa International is a registered 501(c) nonprofit corporation licensed to operate in the States of Colorado and Arizona, and with NGO status in Nairobi, Kenya.