AFRICAN GIVING BACK

Meet Macdella Cooper


Macdella Cooper is West African from Liberia residing in New York City. We have been following The Macdella Cooper Foundation work for Liberian orphans. At Africaine blog, we believe that giving back is one of the most inexpensive way to make our world a happy place. We are sure that you are going to enjoy learning about Macdella Cooper, how she start her organization, her impacts and where she is now.

1. Tell us about your background

Wow! This is a really general question.  I can best sum this question up by assuming you’re referring to my ethnic background.

I was born and raised in Monrovia, Liberia. My biological parents divorced before I was born but my mother remarried to a really fantastic gentleman who helped her raised me.

In 1990 a brutal civil war started in my country.  During the war my stepfather was killed. My family and I escaped and came to the US.  When we moved to the United States, we came with nothing. We had lost everything to the war and we could barely afford a decent place to live so we settled in the ghettos of Newark, New Jersey.  Life was really tough living in Newark so I kept my mind focused on getting out. The Principal in my high school told me that if I worked hard in High School that would help me receive scholarship to go to college. I wanted nothing more from this country than a college education.  Although nobody in my family had a college degree, I knew deep down within me that college was my only way out. I worked really hard, graduated with a 3.6 GPA and got an academic scholarship to The College of New Jersey. In December of 2000, I graduated; I left the ghetto and never looked back. Immediately after I finished school I moved to New York City to pursue a career in fashion. I landed a job with Ralph Lauren and did some modeling work on the side. I loved working in the fashion industry and being in New York. My life became everything I ever dreamed.  I traveled the world while made some really great friends in high places. Life was good. More and more success came to me and it came very easily. Meaninglessness, vanity, and emptiness came along with my success.  I tried to fill my time with more travels and more parties, more shopping and more meaninglessness. What do you do when you have everything you never had before?

2. Why did you decide to start your organization?


In 2004, after praying and asking God for some direction – he opened my eyes to the struggle my native Liberia and its people where going through.  I could not turn blind eyes to the problem.  I saw images of the children; I hate to see them suffering so I decided to do something to help. I researched Liberia and all I saw was darkness. Darkness was crippling the minds of my people. We were horrible to each other.  I cried in my apartment for days. I got on my knees and asked God to show me how to help my people. The vision came to me quickly. I called a few friends to help me. We started by collecting canned goods, clothing and personal care products and sent them to Liberia. I saw the amazing impact it had on the few individuals that received it.

3. What are the programs you run in your organization? 

When I began the MacDella Cooper Foundation I started by sending food, clothes and personal care product to returning refugees. Eventually, we started renovating orphanages to make them a better place for the children to live. In 2006, we initiated the MCF Scholarship program to help deserving students go to the school of their choice. We pay their tuition so that they can focus on the important things, like their schoolwork.   Today, we have other programs like the MCF Academy. The MCF Academy is a tuition free boarding school for children from zero income families as well as orphans and abandoned children. The children at the Academy are striving.

4. What are the challenges you faced in that process?

I’ve faced many challenges. Working in Africa is not easy even as an African. I still face a lot of challenges working with my people. The Old mentality is what’s killing our continent. The old mentality is all about Self. People are not willing to make sacrifices for anybody. Not for the sake of our continent, their country or for the future of their children. There is so much good there but there is also so much that we need to get rid of. Pride, bigotry, lack of trust; I don’t think we have enough time to list the series of challenges. Unfortunately, to my people, it is always about themselves. It is always all about them. They birth children to take care of them therefore they do absolutely nothing for their own kids.  Nobody wants to work together for the common good of his or her own society, country or continent.  We cannot move forward with this sort of mentality simply because it produces absolutely no benefit.

5. Since starting your organization, what are the impacts have you made? 


Through all of the challenges we have gained some success.   We’ve put a few kids through college – one of which graduated magna cum laude with a degree in chemistry. Several girls who never dreamt of being in school are now in school and are obtaining an education that they can go out in the world with. About 60 orphans and children from zero income families are now in a private boarding school receiving the best education the country has to offer.  Children who were left behind now have hope and dignity because someone decided to take interest in their well-being and their future.

6. What are you most proud of in regards to your work? 

I try to avoid being proud of anything simply because I cannot take credit for any of this. I know that this is all God’s plan and He was the one that made all of this possible. I cannot take credit away from God. But I am so happy that we opened the MCF Academy. I really hope that we can raise more money to expend the campus and take in more children.

7. What is next for Macdella Cooper? 

Right now, I am taking it easy. My dream is to motivate and change the way of thinking in our young people.  They are the so lucky to have the opportunity they have on hand.  I want to motivate them to seize the opportunity to do more for our continent. We are so blessed.  We need to go back home and do what the generations before us could not do.

8. What is your advice to other people who are starting an non-profit organization? 

My advice to other people starting a non-for-profit is to remember that this work is not easy. You have to be in it for the right reason.  Running a charity is as serious as the air we breathe. People are counting on us regardless of what changes are taking place in our lives. The people are counting on us.   Running a charity is not fashion trend.  Today, I notice that everyone has a foundation.  I am happy to see that.  But I also notice that people are using these charity and foundation as a means of social promotion.

9. What is another issue that is dear to your heart? 

Bring about healing in Africa. Africa needs to heal in order for it to move forward.     We have to heal ourselves in order to embrace change.   Change will never happen until we are healed.

10. Who is Macdella outside of Macdella Cooper Foundation? 

MacDella is a wife, mother of 2 and a God fearing woman.

11. As someone who is helping children, how do you feel about the food crisis in the Horn of Africa that is claiming the lives of thousands of children? 

Laziness is the reason our children are dying. I think people are happy to see their children die as difficult and cold as that may sounds. I think people have no excuse for not being able to provide for their kids.  Once again, this all goes back to my theory.  We need to heal. The healing process starts by accepting and finding truth.

12. What factors do you think can lead to Africa’s growth?  

Healing. Change will come after we have accepted the truth and the truth will free us from all of the darkness that is holding us back from political, economical and personal growth.

Meet Super Model Liya Kebede

Liya Kebede Super Model from Ethiopia

Liya Kebede Foundation

Liya Kebede, about her work on health issues related to childbirth. You may recognize Kebede as the former face of Estee Lauder or from the cover of magazines including Vogue’s May 2009 issue. Kebede, who is Ethiopian, founded her own organization to reduce mortality among mothers, newborns and young children and well as to help mothers andchildren stay healthy. The Liya Kebede Foundation promotes the use of low-cost technology and accessible medical care to help save lives during and after childbearing. The foundation also educates health-care workers and community members on children’s health. Kebede also is a World Heath Organization ambassador, a position given to celebrities who advocate for health causes. In 2005, Kebede was named “Goodwill Ambassador for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.” Kebede also has a clothing line for childrenand women called “Lemlem,” which means to bloom or flourish in Amharic, the language of the Amhara people of Ethiopia. She hopes that the handwoven clothing from Ethiopia will continue native traditions as well as support local businesses and economies.


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One Response “AFRICAN GIVING BACK” →

  1. Jen Jordan

    November 4, 2011

    really great story, I love the idea of your blog! well done. I can’t wait to read your next article.

    Reply

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