Moving abroad is one of the common desires for a majority of people especially those in developing countries. The aim usually being to look for green pastures and improve their livelihood.
Today, we feature a Kenyan lady whose daring humanitarian work is impacting on many lives both in the USA and back home, Kenya.
Every Friday in Maryland USA, Dr Truphena Choti together with her husband and a team of volunteers oversee the distribution of food to the local community. The food that they mainly offer to African immigrants they say, is organic and culturally appropriate. They do this through a nonprofit organization, AfriThrive.
“This has been part of my my mission in life and that’s what drives me in my daily work and so looking at this work I’m a patriot of Africa.” She stated.
“Having worked in Africa for the last 15 years and being born and raised in Africa, Africa is in me.” Mrs Choti further added.
Together with her husband and co-founder Professor Charles choti, Truphena has been at the Forefront of lending a hand to expatriates from across the globe.
What they do they say is part of caring for the community service, and attending to the needs of people around them.
Why the AfriThrive Initiative
“We have so many families which face challenges when people move from Africa to America. America is a completely different environment with the various new challenges.” They say. “Socio-economic challenges even the educational system here requires parental attention to the young kids.” They further stated.
Consequently , the Chotis confirm that as an immigrant, you need to know where to get the right food, the right neighborhood to settle in. Additionally, as a parent, you will need to know which are the right schools for your children.
“Here in the U.S neighborhoods mean a lot. You can land into a neighborhood that really will mess up your children so we started getting involved in community work and helping people through the church or by ourselves.” They said.
For an immigrant to get a house, the Chotis say that you will need someone who is a local citizen to co-sign for you. That is so because you do not have a credit score which makes it hard for you to acquire anything.
“AfriThrive focuses on African immigrant communities in the DMV area. When I say DMV area I mean the area around Washington DC area. It covers part of Delaware, Pennsylvania and also Virginia and Maryland.” They say.
On Which Communities they Serve
On which people they serve, the Chotis said that their main focus is on Kenyan immigrants, those from Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana, as well as the Caribbean.
“Black people are core pace of the people we serve but we also have other nationalities. We serve white people , we serve people from Europe so it’s a combination of different people.” They added.
About Challenges in the US
The Chotis say that most African immigrants do more than two jobs to cope with life abroad. To them, it is a challenge especially for those with kids because they end up lacking supervision when they need it the most. However, they say that in America, when you fail to complete your assignments and duties well, the system gets you off.
“That is what has really affected our young people and then the kids lose interest in school so we are trying to to help families so that our kids can make the best of the American dream.” They stated.
Dr choti Who holds a PhD in International Education Development has many years of experience in the NGO World. They say their program to help African immigrants has been propelled by them partnering with other institutions like DC Central Kitchen and churches.
How the AfriThrive Dream was Born
Dr. Choti moved to the U.S in the year 2000 together with her family through a Fulbright scholarship that was awarded to her husband. They settled in the state of Georgia in Atlanta with their three children. She went to school for her Master’s program in Georgia State University and the Year 2005 she was awarded a scholarship to study a PhD program at the University of Maryland College Park.
“Since then we settled in Silver Spring Maryland where we are up to now. I was attached to a National Education Association called NEA that is a union of teachers like KNUT and I was working at the international section.” She stated adding that that’s the one that gave her exposure to International Development.
Dr Choti started by helping teachers unions in different countries Implement programs especially in the gender aspects. When she graduated with her PhD program in 2009, she started working with different multinational organizations in the DC area. She has handled programs, funded by the American government, that have supported over 20 African countries.
“They have several projects that they run in Africa especially and I’ve been supporting them for the last 15 years until I started.” She concluded.
Over a million people immigrate to the U.S each year. A good number hailing from Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan. That makes the work being done by the Chotis quite important.
More About AfriThrive
Other than just partnering with other institutions like earlier mentioned, they have been able to expand operations to include growing of their very own food. Speaking to Daring Abroad, Alicia who is AfriThrive’s farm manager said that her role as Farm manager is to grow culturally appropriate foods for those in need.
She also added that she teaches volunteers and anybody in the community about sustainable agriculture. “We have a two Acre Farm site out in Poolesville Maryland and we grow things throughout the annual season.” She said.
Alice also stated that in the past season they’ve grown African indigenous vegetables, beans, corn, managu, pumpkins, tomatoes, and peppers.
“When you talk about food security, it’s not just about having money. It is not about being desperate for food. It is about having access to the right food, healthy food, nutritious food.” She concluded.
The nonprofit organization has about 15 of the children they support in different schools. “I can say we have been able to achieve a lot. This journey has not been easy as any non-profit. But I thank God for my husband who has been my partner in this. By the end of 2022 we had given out one million pounds of food to the community. That was really a great achievement.” Said Dr. Choti, who is the champion of this initiative.
Her motivation continues to be making the world a better place for all mankind no matter their background.