Photo by World Vision
LAYC welcomed visitors from World Vision - North Capital Area (U.S. Programs) over the summer 2011, including visiting president of World Vision U.S., Richard Stearns, World Vision’s Senior Vice President Chris Glynn, and Vice President of U.S. Programs, Romanita Hairston.
President & CEO Lori Kaplan, lead the visit along with LAYC's Chief Operating Officer, Sandy Gutierrez, and Deputy Education Director, Mike Leon. The visitors got to hear from two LAYC participants, Nehmas Arno and Armeyas Gurmesa, who take part in World Vision’s Youth Empowerment Program (YEP) at LAYC- LAYC is a partner is delivering this program. YEP is World Vision’s signature project in the US with the purpose to inspire under-served youth and give them the tools to become advocates of positive change in their communities.
Nehmas Arno is from the Dominican Republic, and through LAYC programs has learned to speak English and make a difference in his community. After leaving his home country and struggling to fit in, he says YEP and LAYC helped him to know who he is. He has also been inspired by his peers, “The way the youth get together and get engaged has changed me,” Nehmas said.
Armeyas Gurmesa came from Ethiopia in 2009 with his family, speaking no English. He enrolled in school, and soon came to LAYC where he met Ama Bentsi-Enchil. Ama is co-trainer for World Vision’s YEP in the D.C. area. She recognized Armeyas’ potential, and told him how he could help other students at LAYC with math and science. She then encouraged him to participate in YEP. “This story is not just mine. It’s all of my friends',” said Armeyas.
After hearing these stories, Stearns said that World Vision has learned the importance of addressing all the needs of people living in poverty: needs for food, water, shelter, clothing, and safety. Without access to those essentials he said, “They’ll always be in poverty… It’s a holistic approach to poverty where you have to get at the root causes, and there isn’t just one.”
He offered praise for LAYC’s work, saying, “What’s great about this work that you’re doing is that it has so many dimensions to it. People can come here and find a way to put their whole self together.”
The partnership between LAYC and World Vision is helping youth like Nehmas and Armeyas develop their support networks.