One young professional’s passion to remain community-focused
AISHA Haynes has been doing her best over the past 20 years to pass on the African culture to younger generations, focusing heavily on literacy and mentoring and using her weekends strictly to help others.
Now an executive member and volunteer Emancipation festival coordinator, Aisha sits on the Education Committee of the African Cultural and Development Association (ACDA), along with its Emancipation, Business Development, and Social Welfare Committees.
“I help out where needed; primarily, my focus has been on youth, entrepreneurship and innovation,” she told Pepperpot Magazine recently.
ACDA has been running Saturday youth programmes with youth from areas across the country between the ages of two and 18. From history lessons to free dance, drumming, and storytelling, Aisha and others would work hard to pass on the culture and traditions. Cooking classes, field trips, sewing, arts and craft are also on the list.
Furthermore, Aisha offers free after-school reading lessons for children between the ages of four and 10 and she helps to run specific programmes through the Association of Young Africans (AYA), which is the youth arm of ACDA.
“I have been doing my part by giving my time and trying my best to share from my own experiences and knowledge. In every programme we run, it is from a cultural perspective and putting on the festival and creating content that speaks to the context of our experience,” Aisha related.
She reflected on how her volunteering efforts have been embedded in how she was raised. “I was raised to be community-focused…and the examples I had growing up…weekends were spent contributing and working with individuals of your community that needed it the most. There were no cartoons on Saturday morning, but that time was for thinking of others and how you can help make their lives and experiences better by sharing what you had.”
Aisha’s efforts continue to pay off as she can see the impact that her work and the work of ACDA have been having on youths. “The impact is seen in the movements emerging from our young people being proud to be in their skin and comfortable to wear African pieces and embracing the culture through music and innovation,” she said.
Over the past 30 years-and pre-COVID-the Saturday programmes ACDA has hosted focused heavily on African culture and young people between the ages of two and 18, through sharing knowledge and creating content on their social media outlets and using mediums such as the Emancipation Festival which they’ve successfully lobbied for 27 years ago to be an official holiday that falls on August 1.
Meanwhile, according to its website, ACDA was founded on December 17, 1992, by Afro-centric Guyanese who were dedicated to the cause of nurturing African culture and creating an economically viable and prosperous African community.
The organisation is open to membership to anyone who is of African descent, regardless of religious or political affiliation. ACDA embraces the idea of both tradition and change as necessary elements in sustaining a vibrant African culture in Guyana.