“I believe in second chances. I’m sure you do, too. And so should the many women living in the DR Congo who have been robbed of their right to education, health and safe community, by sexual assault.” This is not an elder talking; he is an undergraduate student social entrepreneur, with an elderly mindset.
In April 2016, William Yakah; a freshman MasterCard Foundation Scholar; and Neuroscience major at Michigan State University, along with two other board members of Students For A Healthy Africa (SAHA) will present their Life After Rape Initiative (LARI) project at the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) at University of California Berkeley. SAHA is a student-led non-profit, made up of motivated young minds from across the globe, with a goal of improving several areas of healthcare provision in Africa.
LARI is one of the projects William and his team have been working on. Their interest in such an initiative was induced by the situation of sexual assaults on women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). William: “For about six years, women and girls in the DR of Congo have suffered levels of sexual assault and domestic violence, most commonly rape. In 2011, the United Nations tagged the eastern part of the DRC as the ‘rape capital of the world’. Many children, including males, have been rape victims.”
A 2011 study showed that in every hour, forty-eight (48) women are raped in D.R Congo and a total of 1,152 a day. Female students have suffered the most part. They become pregnant and/or contract several diseases and eventually become school dropouts. Their hopes, dreams, future aspirations and security wiped away. “Their dreams can be rebuilt.” The young entrepreneur is optimistic about their work.
SAHA is dedicated to providing a second chance for these rape victims.
“We developed LARI to help support the victims who have suffered from these atrocities and had to drop out of school. We committed ourselves to raising funds to provide scholarships for these young women to go back to school and pursue their dreams.”
“We are fundraising to provide annual health insurance packages for these young women. We’ve also partnered with some female advocates (mostly students) in the DRC who will serve as mentors to the females we enroll in the LARI program to provide counseling and monitoring. It is our goal to give these young girls a second chance to live healthy lives and get back to the classroom to pursue their dreams. This is what is taking us to CGIU.”
CGIU is a community network of young undergraduate students who’re taking real, concrete steps in solving some of the World’s most pressing challenges.
Through CGIU, William and his team hope to learn effective strategies to help regain hope lost to sexual assault, and pursue their dreams.
“I’m excited to also mention that MSU Undergraduate Entrepreneurship, under the leadership of Director Neil Kane, is committed to supporting my participation at CGIU by taking care of air tickets and accommodation throughout the program, and providing other support for this project. We recognize that we will not accomplish anything without the support of students, faculty, and other stakeholders; we believe that young people are capable of addressing the World’s challenges and as such, rely on every individual’s contribution in providing a second chance for these young girls.”