An Introduction To Aserela
Aserela (Action For Self-Reliance Association) adheres to the standard of a humanitarian organization. We do not discriminate based on sex, race, color, or ethnic origin. We believe in human rights of all people and their equal opportunity to basic education, clean water, and access to a better life.
Aserela was founded in 1994 in Maine, USA to organize and build self-reliance among Sudanese refugees. It gained association status and was incorporated in 1997, and received 501c(3) status in 2001.
Through a strong volunteer base and limited staff, Aserela has diligently worked to build philanthropic support among refugees that have settle in Maine. Equally important for Aserela is our mission to assist refugees returning to South Sudan to develop their local capacity to rebuild their communities and new country after decades of war and unimaginable strife. This is no small task.
South Sudan became independent July 9, 2011 and the world’s 193rd nation. Consider that 95% of the population of this new nation cannot read or write. With virtually no infrastructure remaining in communities to which refugees are returning, continuation of Aserela’s school building project and the education of our children are top priorities.
Just as challenging, South Sudan faces massive problems with health care. In a country that is approximately the geographical size of France, and with a population of more than 8 million, a few short years ago South Sudan had just 50 licensed physicians in the entire country. According to the United Nations, maternal mortality is the highest in the world. 1 of 6 new mothers die as a result of birth related causes. 1 of 4 children die by age 5. Aserela is very focused on reversing this dire situation. To that end, Aserela, partnered with Massachusetts General Hospital and Ujenzi’s Dr. Thomas Burke in May 2012 to bring a medical mission to the village communities in the Kit region. Sixteen birth attendants were trained and provided basic supplies toward improving maternal health care.
It is hard to wrap one’s mind around challenges this big. We encourage you to watch the remarkable video called Between Earth and Sky (courtesy of Ujenzi Trust Video and Ujenzi.org). It presents an amazing overview of this newly independent country, the valiant and ongoing effort to educate South Sudan’s first class of 400 doctors, and the indomitable spirit of the people and friends of South Sudan who are working tirelessly to build a better life in this new nation.
Aserela’s overarching goal is to nourish the mind, body, and spirit of Sudanese refugees and instill self-reliance, self-esteem, and hope.
Our current and urgent project is a roof for the Nyolo Hope Primary School …the first school ever in the region. The population of the area, comprised of four tribes, is nearly 65,000… about the size of Portland, Maine, USA. There are currently about 360 students enrolled at the primary school for grades 1 through 6.
Two basic brick buildings each have tin roofs in place. However, the third building is only a brick shell at this point. It houses six classrooms for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade, but has no roof. This structure is in jeopardy of collapsing when the rainy season hits in May. And of course, classes are suspended for the young students whenever there is drenching rain because the roof remains uncompleted.
We invite you to join us in meeting our goals. Together with us, your continued generosity, we will change lives!