AWA Affiliate and Board Member Bisi Ideraabdullah has a wealth of inspiring work to share. In addition to her powerful work with Imani House (described below), Bisi has run a writing workshop for women of color in NYC since 1999.
She has edited and published an anthology of writing from that community, Voices of Brooklyn: Writings from the Women of Color Writers Workshop (Face to Face Press, 2000) with another global anthology forthcoming. You can read more about her writing workshop leadership in this excellent interview with Delphi Quarterly. For more about how she came to her work, watch this video of her Keynote address at AWA’s first conference:
Her work with Imani House is fueled by a mission to assist marginalized youth, families, and immigrants to create vibrant neighborhoods where residents are decision makers who take responsibility for the improvement of their lives and surroundings.
Imani House was started in Liberia, West Africa in the midst of civil war, by Mrs. Bisi Ideraabdullah in 1985. Having volunteered in the hospital during the war in Liberia, and seeing the extreme need for healthcare services, Sister Bisi opened her own clinic, teaching residents sustainable agriculture. She also started a Liberian Adult Education program.
On a trip back to the U.S. to find additional support, Sister Bisi realized that her hometown, Brooklyn, NY, had many people who needed assistance as well. The organization’s first U.S. project started in 1994 with a program to help those with low literacy levels, mainly immigrants. Since then Imani House programs have met the diverse and growing needs of Brooklyn and Liberian communities. In the U.S. it directly serves over 1,200 low-income families, youth, immigrants and elderly each year. Indirectly through community outreach, workshops and forums, it serves an additional 4,000. In Liberia, the Clinic and Adult Education program serves approximately 18,000 Liberians annually. Recently Imani House began working with the Liberian Marketing Association, and has introduced a program to bring literacy classes to the largely illiterate market women. Imani House has also started a Peer Education Program, training teens on sexual health, pregnancy and STD prevention, as well as teaching them to facilitate workshops on the topic in various schools.
The headquarters are in South Brooklyn, one of the most ethnically and economically diverse areas of New York City. Although the U.S. programs benefit all of Brooklyn, they primarily serve disadvantaged members of Gowanus, Red Hook, Fort Greene, Sunset Park, Flatbush, Park Slope, and parts of Crown Heights.”