Sat10252014

Community

LAH resident builds educational opportunities in Kenya – from the heart of the Silicon Valley


Photo By: COURTESY OF PARU YUSUF
Photo Courtesy Of Paru Yusuf

Charles Waigi leads a meet-and-greet event at the Los Altos Hills home of Paru Yusuf.

Los Altos Hills philanthropist Paru Yusuf believes that you don’t have to travel far to make a positive difference in the world. Since joining the board of the Asante Africa Foundation – an Oakland-based nonprofit organization dedicated to creating healthier learning environments – she has promoted ways to close the global education gap.

“At the end of the day, it’s a small world,” Yusuf said. “What we want for our kids is what parents want for their kids there.”

Yusuf said the work of the foundation attracted her through its holistic approach and partnership-focused projects, including an initiative with Khan Academy to translate 1,000 English math and science videos into Swahili and a girls financial literacy program through the Population Council.

“A key philosophy of ours is to partner with other organizations to have a bigger impact,” said Erna Grasz, Asante Africa Foundation founder and CEO.

Empowering youth to pursue academic excellence is not just about donating textbooks, school supplies and uniforms, Yusuf said, but also about impacting their families and communities.

“It’s about the bigger picture,” she said. “There are so many good-hearted people who don’t understand the realities on the ground.”

To introduce her Silicon Valley neighbors and colleagues to the demands of education in less-developed countries, Yusuf hosted a meet-and-greet event at her home last month with Charles Waigi, an educator and community leader from Kenya. She said she hopes her guests better understood Waigi’s work under challenging circumstances and left the event inspired to take action – in their community or internationally.

“Mr. Waigi had a lot going on, and he took the time to start something,” Yusuf said. “You don’t have to go to Kenya to do something in the community.”

For more information, visit asanteafrica.org.

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