Empowering the Poor (ETP) is the brainchild of its founder, President and Chief Executive Servant, Darius Coulibaly. Darius was born and raised in a poor and rural environment in northern and southern Côte d’Ivoire, where he witnessed firsthand poverty. Darius grew up without electricity, clean and running water, no indoor plumbing, no health centers; and, he walked long distances to fetch water, wood, farm, and to go to school. Diseases, the lack of health centers, deaths and funerals were normal and a frequent cycle of events in Darius’ childhood. He quickly became familiar with the despair and frustration endemic to individuals and communities struggling to survive. As a youngster and teenager, he literally watched children dying in their mother’s hands from malaria, cholera, dysentery, malnutrition, and many other preventable and curable diseases.
Darius was puzzled and became more inquisitive, as his mother could not answer the millions of questions he had growing up. For instance, why did the 6 year old Gnerewa died from diarrhea in her mother’s hands while the entire family stood powerlessly around her. In the midst of his unanswered questions, Darius discovered his call and purpose in life: serving the poor and combating poverty wherever it exists. Standing over seven feet tall, Darius’s height symbolizes the towering challenges that people living in poverty face daily.
Guided by his personal bouts with poverty and his faith in Jesus Christ, and driven by his passion and call in life to serve poor communities around the world, Darius founded Empowering The Poor in 2006, with the mission to empower poor communities to self-reliance through education, healthcare, and micro loans programs in the United States and around the world.
Empowering The Poor was awarded the 501(c) (3) status by the Internal Revenue Service on June 14, 2007. Empowering the Poor is run by a group of dedicated Board of Directors and volunteers (work without compensation) in our main office in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and in korhogo, Ivory Coast, West Africa.
WHAT HAVE WE ACCOMPLISHED THUS FAR?
- Provide academic and leadership services to economically disadvantaged students and parents in the City of Fredericksburg and counties of Spotsylvania and Stafford through its “I Am a 21st Century Program launched in the July 2011. We provide in-home and in-center tutoring, and leadership activities.
- Distributed four large suitcases of medical supplies to the Jean Marie Opal Clinic in Leogane, Haiti, and first aid kits to the survivors of earthquake in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, March 10-21, 2010.
- Built and continue to operate a one-room Temporary Health Clinic in the village of Tonhon, Ivory Coast, July 2009 to present
- Provided literacy classes to 289 women and children in Houssabougou, Korhogo, Ivory Coast since October 2009 to present.
- A week-long HIV Awareness Campaign in the villages of Poungbe, Tonhon, Drissafogo, Sekonkaha, Dogolefolo, Cote’ d’Ivoire, West Africa, 2008. The campaign was sponsored by Randgold Resources, a gold mining and exploration company operating in the village of Tonhon, Ivory Coast.
- Built 2 classrooms(1st and 2nd grade), village of Tonhon, Ivory Coast West Africa, 2006-2007
- Trained 20 women as community health agents in the village of Tonhon, Ivory Coast, 2007.
- Distributed 250 long lasting insecticides-treated bed nets in the village of Princes Town, Ghana in 2007
- Distributed 350 bed nets in the village of Tonhon, Ivory Coast, 2006.
OUR CURRENT PROJECTS
“I Am a 21st Century Leader Program”: a community-based initiative that aims to enhance the academic achievement and leadership skills of economically disadvantaged students (ECD) in the Fredericksburg, Virginia area. Economically disadvantaged students in the Fredericksburg City and counties of Spotsylvania, Caroline, Stafford, and King George have a history of academic failure. For example, in the Fredericksburg City Public Schools, only 57% of the economically disadvantaged (ECD) students graduated from high school in 2010, 31% of the 3rdgrade ECD students failed the SOL Reading, 62% failed the 7th grade SOL Math in that same year (www.doe.virginia.gov).
Empowering The Poor recognizes that the educational crisis facing lower-income communities in our Fredericksburg, Virginia area and across the United States perpetuates the vicious cycle of poverty and poses a serious threat to our region’s and America’s long-term economic growth. That is why, Empowering The Poor stands by students and parents to empower them to self-reliance through academic and leadership opportunities.
I Am a 21st Century Leader Program provides the following services on a weekly basis:
- In-home tutoring for students who have a cumulative GPA of 1.99 and below or are failing core subjects.
- In-center tutoring for students from all socioeconomic backgrounds and academic levels
- Leadership opportunities for students through community service projects and parents (support with accountability with their child’s education)
- Creative Writing Workshops and Youth Science & Technology Camp during the summer
Tonhon Health Center project:
More than 30,000 children, women, and men wake up each morning sick and desperate with no health center to attend In the village of Tonhon and surrounding villages located in northern Cote d’Ivoire, West Africa. An estimated 60% of pregnant women die from pregnancy related complications or during labor because of the lack of maternity or health clinic to provide basic prenatal and post natal care. Pregnant women deliver babies in their mud-huts at the hand of elderly and low-skilled midwives. Diarrhea, malaria, and malnutrition are the leading cause of child mortality. HIV and AIDS is creeping into these impoverished because of the lack of health center to provide HIV Testing and educate the populations on preventive methods and guide them to access treatment. The health challenges are huge but not insurmountable. Empowering The Poor adopts always a piecemeal approach in solving complex poverty issues such as the lack of basic healthcare in poor and rural communities like in the village of Tonhon.
Our goal is to expand the one-room clinic we are currently operating from to 2 buildings that will provide maternity services: pre and post natal care, 2 delivery rooms, an hospitality room, 3 check-up rooms for primary care, 3 primary treatment room (small injuries, etc.) a small pharmacy, one ambulance for medical emergencies, and 2 small classrooms for our community health education initiative. We can achieve our goal and save thousands of lives in serving 6-8 villages by building, equipping, and operating a health center in the village of Tonhon by raising $35,000.
You can save lives by making a secure donation online at www.empoweringthepoor.org then click donate and select Tonhon Health Center Project. You may also contact Darius Coulibaly to speak to your organization, church, school, club, or group of friends about the Tonhon Health Center Project and our fundraising campaign entitled Buy Bricks Save Lives.