The New American Africans (NAA) is an immigrant led organization that was formed in 2004 to support newly arriving African immigrants and refugees in their journey of integration and adaptation to a new life in New Hampshire. It was founded in 2004 by Honore Murenzi, an immigrant to New Hampshire from Rwanda who wanted to ensure that all newcomers had the support and resources they would need to succeed in their new home. When he arrived in New Hampshire with his family to build a new life in 2001, he discovered quickly that adjusting to life in a new place has its challenges. As he became more adept at navigating through social and cultural norms and systems, he became the ‘go-to’ person for other Africans recently resettled in New Hampshire, many of whom did not speak English and who also needed help adjusting to their new culture. He helped parents to understand their children’s schools. He helped find jobs and create social connections between African community members and the greater Concord community. Through his hard work and a growing community of supporters and allies, New American Africans was born. Since 2004, NAA has worked to connect the strength and resilience of immigrants with the warm and welcoming community we know Concord, NH to be. NAA creates opportunities for immigrants and refugees in New Hampshire to be empowered to take care of themselves and their families. This work requires a thoughtful and multi-faceted approach, with a network of staff and volunteers coordinating key programs and services.
The mission of New American Africans is to strengthen and sustain immigrants by gathering for mutual support and education, promoting leadership development and sharing values and culture that will enrich the broader community.
Most refugees in Concord have left property and family behind and fled for their lives, only to spend years in refugee camps before making the journey to their new host nation. For many of the children, this is the only life they’ve known. They may not speak English and are likely to have had little or no opportunity to go to school. Although they have survived extraordinary circumstances and their knowledge can be broad, there is often little that is relevant to life in New Hampshire. This is why the strength and resilience of these communities must not be lost, but instead championed and channeled into helping them create better lives for themselves and their families. As an organization, we are determined to promote the full engagement and leadership of Africans in community life, as well as greater economic security and workforce opportunities.
We serve as a bridge between the host community and newcomers, ensuring that Concord, NH remains a welcoming home for all of its residents. When a family is resettled, the federal government requires that the adults take the first available job. Too often, these are low wage and can barely meet basic needs. New American Africans is building relationships with area employers who offer training opportunities and a career ladder. Since our inception, youth have been a major focus of our work, reflecting the great hope and desire of African parents that their children thrive in this new environment, and that their children’s success will lift up the entire family and the broader community. Three afternoons a week during the school year, our Youth Coordinator is in Concord’s middle or high school as part of their federally funded 21C after school programming, working with volunteers from St. Paul’s School who help students with specific homework struggles. They also play word games, helping newly resettled youth improve their English language skills. Two evenings a week, NAA runs an activities-based program at Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church. By far, the most popular activity is our dance class. This free class celebrates African culture. Our summer program offers youth a chance to continue to improve their English, and to build friendships across cultures.
We are a member of the Love Your Neighbor Coalition. This informal group of faith-based leaders and immigrant advocates come together to respond when refugees are threatened. In 2012, four refugee families found racist graffiti on their homes. Faith leaders and public officials came together to show that Concord is committed to being a safe and welcoming community for everyone. Love Your Neighbor also organizes community picnics, vigils and other actions to nurture support for an increasingly diverse community. New American Africans invites you to join us in the important work of ensuring that Concord remains a welcoming community.
Specific ways for members of GCC to get involved include attending the upcoming GALA (click here to more info and tickets) Also, individual families or life groups can "circle" around immigrant families to build relationships, and help with some practical needs if/when they exist! If interested, please see Victoria Adewumi, she would happily identify families to help and support.