Ashinaga in Sub-Saharan Africa
Ashinaga’s work across the region
According to a 2001 UNICEF/UNAIDS report, Sub-Saharan Africa has the highest proportion of orphaned children anywhere in the world, with over one in 10 youths having lost one or both of their parents. Without adequate support, these children are far less likely to finish school, and are more vulnerable to the challenges and dangers in their societies.
Furthermore, access to higher education is exceptionally difficult for students in this region. Only 6% of young people are enrolled in higher education, compared with 62% in Japan and 89% in the United States. This figure is expected to be even lower among young people who have lost one or both parents.
Ashinaga has been working to support students in Sub-Saharan Africa for more than 15 years, starting with our office in Uganda, then spreading to the rest of the sub continent with the establishment of the Ashinaga Africa Initiative. Drawing on 50 years of experience in Japan, we aim to contribute to the education of orphaned students in Sub-Saharan Africa on a local, national, and international level.
Ashinaga Africa Initiative
The Ashinaga Africa Initiative (AAI) is Ashinaga’s flagship project in Sub-Saharan Africa. Its mission is to contribute to the region’s development by providing orphaned students with the education, network, and opportunities necessary to become leaders in their home countries. We invest in students who want to study internationally and then return home to make a positive difference in their country and community.
Our services include financing for an undergraduate education abroad, support for completing school applications, mentoring, and career guidance.
Ashinaga Uganda was Ashinaga’s first international office. Registered in 2001, the organization consists of a Rainbow House community facility to support orphaned children and local youth, as well as a Kokoro-Juku, a dormitory and education facility for students from Sub-Saharan Africa selected to join the Ashinaga Africa Initiative.
Founded in 2015, Ashinaga Senegal serves as the regional office for francophone Sub-Saharan Africa. Francophone students on the Ashinaga Africa Initiative stay and learn at our Kokoro-Juku facility in central Dakar. There they learn alongside staff and tutors from around the world, and contribute to the local community through various outreach projects.
Ashinaga Senegal also offers domestic and international scholarships for high school, university, and primary school.
Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council
The Kenjin-Tatsujin International Advisory Council is a group of renowned academics, entertainers, business people, and lawmakers who have pledged their support for Ashinaga’s activities in Sub-Saharan Africa, in particular the Ashinaga Africa Initiative.
Many prominent Africans feature on the council, including:
- Dikembe Mutombo, world-renowned basketball player (DR Congo/USA)
- Strive Masiyiwa, founder of Econet (Zimbabwe)
- Ebenezer Oduro Owusu, vice-chancellor of the University of Ghana (Ghana)
- Lionel Zinsou, former prime minister of Benin (Benin/France)
- Ntombizodwa Yvonne ‘Chaka Chaka’ Mhinga, singer (South Africa)
- Coumba Gawlo, singer (Senegal)
At Home in the World
At Home in the World (Japanese title: Sekai ga wa ga ya) was a musical production held in Japan, the USA, and Uganda from 2014 to 2016 that was produced through collaboration between Ashinaga, Vassar College, and renowned musical director John Caird. It tells the stories of the students that Ashinaga and Vassar support, revealing their shared commonalities despite their different backgrounds.
We hope to expand our support for orphaned students in Sub-Saharan Africa further in the coming years, starting by reaching all 49 nations on the continent through the Ashinaga Africa Initiative. We then hope to increase the number of students we accept into the program.
Through the support received from the Ashinaga Africa Initiative, students are able to launch their own social initiatives upon returning to their home countries. Such initiatives are envisioned to further help hundreds—if not thousands—of people across Africa.