Humanity First USA Continues to Expand Projects in Mali
In January 2013, Munum Naeem, the Executive Director of Humanity First USA (HF USA) visited Mali in West Africa, along with Waleed Ahmad, HF USA Country Director to Mali and Ajaz Khan, who has served as Communication Design Consultant on several HF USA projects. Since the inception of Humanity First in Mali in 2005, several successful human development and disaster response projects have been initiated; most notably, Humanity First established an IT center in 2006 and a sewing school in 2008. Both programs are still serving the youth of Mali in attaining skills that not only increase their employability, but also teach entrepreneurial skills that are critical for success in one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world.
A delegation consisting of the visiting HF USA team and the executive management of HF Mali met with 6 government ministers, over 20 government officials and several local organizations to present updates on the work of Humanity First in Mali. At all levels, it was acknowledged that the services offered through Humanity First projects for the benefit of Malians are unprecedented at a time when the country is suffering because of problems at national level. Honorable Madam Dr. Diallo Deidia Mahamane Kattra, Minister for Professional Development and Employment, expressed her gratitude and support for Humanity First's initiatives in Mali. During a meeting with the Humanity First delegation, she mentioned that she has special respect for her government's partnership and friendship with Humanity First because many long time friends are leaving them in these difficult times, but Humanity First is expanding upon its projects to help the people of Mali.
Inauguration of the Humanity First Sewing Center – January 5, 2013:
Mr. Naeem, along with Honorable Madam Alwata Ichata Sahi, Minister for Family, Women and Child Welfare, and Honorable Dr. Mamadou Sidibe, Minister for Solidarity and Humanitarian Affairs, inaugurated the newly expanded and renovated campus of Humanity First Sewing Center that is currently providing training to over 200 students, who are primarily women. To meet the high influx of students during each session, Humanity First occupied a larger campus in 2012 to accommodate 200 students and is also opening up a second campus which will begin its first session in February 2013 with 100 students. Mali is one of the poorest countries in the world and such skills enable women to financially support their families, educate their children and make the dream of eradicating poverty possible. The official inauguration ceremony took place on January 5, 2013 and was attended by over 30 government officials from several ministries and local government, and representatives of civil society organizations.
Inauguration of Humanity First Bilal Primary School – January 6, 2013:
The second project that was officially inaugurated by Mr. Naeem was the Bilal Primary School in the village of Soruntiguila in the Didieni area. Many local dignitaries and parents of the students from several villages joined Humanity First at this occasion. This is the first of five schools that Humanity First plans to build in Mali over the next three years. The first academic session of the school started in November 2012. The school currently has 110 students in grade 1 from 8 to 10 surrounding villages. These children had no hope of going to school previously, but now with the Bilal Primary School, they will be able to receive the education that they deserve.
Humanity First Village Development Initiative (VDI):
Mr. Naeem and the HF USA team visited several project sites where Humanity First is working on its one-of-a kind model village projects under the Village Development Initiative (VDI). Humanity First, with the help of International Association of Ahmadi Architects and Engineers (IAAAE), has developed the model of VDI to establish infrastructure in remote villages for basic services that are essential for sustainable socioeconomic development of rural communities. The first site for the pilot project is the village of Farako, where Humanity First and IAAAE have installed a solar-powered water distribution system that provides clean and safe drinking water to homes at their door steps. Mr. Naeem initiated the VDI in Soruntiguila as well, and feasibility preparations are underway to launch the project in 2013.
Crisis in the North:
During the Humanity First USA tour of Mali, several officials and civil society organizations requested Humanity First's support to deal with the problems faced by refugees that are displaced due to the crisis in the Northern Mali. Humanity First is helping those refugees in various capacities but during his visit, Mr. Naeem announced that Humanity First will offer full scholarships to 40 students from refugee families for training at the Humanity First Sewing Center, as well as scholarships for 20 students at the Humanity First Computer Institute. In addition, during his meeting with Honorable Madam Dr. Diallo Deidia Mahamane Kattra, the Minister for Professional Development and Employment, Mr. Naeem expressed his enthusiasm to work with the government in establishing technical education programs for refugees of the North. These programs will teach displaced populations skills that can enable them to earn better living once they repatriate to their homes. Feasibility for this program was initiated immediately. Mali is facing several socioeconomic and geopolitical challenges. During such times, most international development organizations are reassessing scope of their projects and future investments in Mali. During his visit, Mr. Naeem emphasized upon needs of Mali during these crisis and extended unwavering support of Humanity First to the government and people of Mali, which was greatly appreciated at all levels.
Humanity First is registered in 43 countries across 6 continents, and has been working on human development projects and responding to disasters since 1994. These have included the earthquakes in Turkey, Pakistan, Japan and Iran, floods in Africa and Latin America, hurricanes (Katrina and Rita) , tornado's (Kansas) and wild fires (California) in the USA, Indonesia and Bangladesh, and conflicts in Eastern Europe.
Since its inception and IRS registration in 2004, Humanity First has been focused on spending most of the raised funds on direct program related expenses. As a result, more than 90% of its funds are in that expense category. This is achieved through dedicated volunteers in its management, and program operation teams.