This Nonprofit Organization Is Helping Young Black People Travel To Africa For Free
By Kelsey Marie
Knowing where your ancestors come from can be beneficial to our growth and future. An NYC-based nonprofit organization, Birthright AFRICA has this belief and is helping young adults of African descent to find out where their ancestors came from.
Birthright AFRICA also funds young people to explore NYC and Washington to learn more about black history.
Diallo Shabazz, the organization’s co-founder, tells CNN: “National Black History Month often focuses on the past, but this is about creating an infrastructure so that we can help people transform their futures.”
When taking a trip with Birthright AFRICA, you can expect to visit museums, cultural sites, and universities. Co-founder and CEO Walla Elsheikh tells CNN that young adults will learn about the “historic and present-day resilience and brilliance of their heritage often lacking in our school curriculums.”
To this day, there is a lack of diversity in study abroad programs in the U.S. “Only 6% of study abroad students are black or of African descent. And only 2% of US managers, leaders, and entrepreneurs are of African descent,” says Elsheikh.
The CEO goes on to share, “To address this gap in diversity and talent, Birthright AFRICA is creating the next generation of global leaders and entrepreneurs that are proud of their African heritage, confident in their innovative aspirations and connected to the African continent.”
When taking the Birthright trip to Africa, you’ll get more than a tourist experience of the continent.
23-year-old Shaina Louis took a Birthright trip to Ghana in 2018 while attending the City University of New York and shares her experience with CNN:
“Prior to Birthright Africa, I had a lot of pent up resentment and antagonism due to a history that I felt my people had no say in. For those of us in the diaspora, our history, according to the textbooks, starts with slavery. I was doubtful and kind of cynical about what the future holds not only for me as an individual but also for black people as a whole.”
After experiencing the continent, she says: “We may not speak the same language, but the foods we eat, the way we carry ourselves, the way we relate to one another, and our deeply ingrained spirituality reflect a bond that is still there. There is a sense of inner peace and ease I now have, that wasn’t there before. I can move forward with my life, with intention behind everything I do.”
If you’re interested in taking a birthright trip to Africa, you are required to be a U.S. citizen between the ages of 13 and 30 years old.
You must also be of African descent, including African American, Afro-Caribbean, Afro-European, Afro-Asian, and Afro-Latinx.
Elsheikh tells CNN, “We consider all black people of African descent. Our target groups are those who have been negatively impacted by the traumatizing enslavement and colonization of black people.”
You can register through the Birthright AFRICA website which will redirect you to where you can apply in your area.
If you’re chosen for a birthright trip, you’ll get to travel to the continent with flights, accommodations, food, and costs of museums fully covered by Birthright AFRICA and their educational partners.
You can fund Birthright AFRICA to help young adults travel to the motherland here.
Kelsey-Marie is an NYC girl who currently lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. You can keep up with her on Instagram at @kelseydashmarie