Welcome to the online home of IFESH, one of America's premier non-governmental organizations working in sub-Saharan Africa. My late father, Reverend Leon H. Sullivan, founded IFESH with the goal of providing developing countries with the educational, economic and social tools and resources necessary to lift people out of poverty. I am honored to carry on my father's legacy and to lead IFESH in fulfilling his promise of building a bridge between Africa and America by assisting the "poorest of the poor" in the areas of education reform, preventive healthcare, capacity building, and conflict resolution. Fulfilling this promise means ushering in a new wave of development in order to make a greater impact in countries that have made some progress, but still lag behind in achieving the U.N. Millennium Development Goals for 2015. Instead of looking to the past for models, countries' leaderships are looking forward to new paradigms that meet country-specific developmental needs and that are relevant to culture and traditions of the region.
Smart development entails prudent investment in social programs that empower individuals to realize practical, sustainable solutions to the problem of poverty, disease and inequity. It entails new paradigms that successfully integrate education with health, agriculture and capacity building. Development also engages both the public and private sector in collaborative initiatives that harness the knowhow of the African people in laying the foundation for future generations.
Research shows that education is essential for developing nations to institute sustainable economic and social reform and significantly reduce poverty. IFESH's education model makes a significant impact on the quality of education for primary and secondary school students by increasing the number of skilled teachers at all levels. Over the years, we have trained more than 500,000 African teachers who have been able to support the educational growth of their country, students and communities. In turn, these teachers have positively impacted millions of African children. The strong relationships that we have built and sustained with the ministries of education and health of our host countries, and our emphasis on engaging local communities in the design of self-help projects, have been fundamental to our success.
Our work could not be accomplished without the generous support of our partners, including: the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the World Bank, the World Cocoa Foundation, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and corporations including Shell, Chevron, Chrysler LLC, General Motors, the Hershey Company, Mars Inc., and many committed individuals. We continue to build public-private partnerships to enable the implementation of innovative and self-sustaining programs, and to ensure that flagship programs, like our International Educators for Africa program, continue. I am especially grateful for the support of our Board of Directors, worldwide staff and volunteers.
Although much progress has been made, there is much more to be done. We should all be concerned that 23 countries remain at risk of not achieving universal primary education by 2015 and that 77 million of the world's children are still not enrolled in primary schools. Moreover, the nearly 50 million orphaned children in Africa will not be able to participate in the process of economic and social renewal in their countries unless they are provided access to education, health care and employment opportunities.
Please explore our website to learn about our programs and how we are making a big difference in the lives of disadvantaged people in sub-Saharan Africa. I hope you'll be moved to get involved. There are volunteer opportunities available to educators, and we always welcome new donors and sponsors. Thank you for your support and for visiting our website!
Julie H. Sullivan, Ph.D.
President & CEO