Telem is a nonprofit providing children of African descent an opportunity to celebrate their cultural heritage, invoke a sense of pride in their ancestry, and increase their self esteem through recreational camping activities, cultural and educational programs throughout the year.
Telem aims to nurture self-possessed and confident individuals who can serve as cultural ambassadors that go on to effect change in their local communities and reach out to other communities to increase understanding and tolerance in this diverse society.
Diana Musa has a Master of Science in Education from Bank Street College of Education and a Master of Science in Occupational Therapy from Mercy College. Ms. Musa worked with preschool children as a special education teacher for seven years and currently works as a school based occupational therapist in New York City. Ms. Musa believes that feeling loved and supported allows us all to tackle obstacles that may seem overwhelming. As we take on challenges and experience successes or failures, it is love and support that keeps us going. It is what motivates us to get back up to try again or to set bigger goals for ourselves. Over time, this love and support helps to build a strong sense of confidence and one’s own agency. Telem endeavors to be part of this support system for youth of African descent. We intend to help create future leaders who believe in themselves, who set their sights high and achieve their aims. With every program we offer, we want to transmit the message loud and clear “You are special, you are capable, you have much to offer the world and we are here to guide and support you!”
Carline Bennett has a Masters in International Educational Administration and Policy Analysis from Stanford University and extensive experience in service-learning, curricula design and immigrant education. Ms. Bennett worked at GenerationOn, the youth and education division of the Points of Light Institute, as the Vice President of Education. In that role, Ms. Bennett worked closely with local and national officials to expand the scope of service-learning in terms of its currency as an educational model and its application in classrooms.
Ms. Bennett also serves on the board of the African Development Institute (ADI)—a public policy research organization that strives to create structural change in Africa through education, research and policy analysis. In her spare time Carline enjoys spending time with family and friends, volunteering as a tutor, and taking kickboxing and ceramics classes!
Veralyn Williams has a B.A. in Media Studies from Hunter College, and is currently a Freelance Journalist working in New York City. As a member of WNYC's Radio Rookies, Ms. Williams' journalism work has won the 65TH Annual Peabody Award and the 2007 Regional RTNDA Edward R. Murrow Award. Currently Ms. Williams produces her independent work at VeralynMedia.com. Ms. Williams was born in Freetown, Sierra Leone, but came to the U.S. as a baby, and growing up she saw very few images that celebrated her African roots. She is eager to be apart of an organization like Telem, where children will receive the message, being African is something to be proud of and cherished!
Rugiatu Bahr was born and raised in Freetown, Sierra Leone and moved to the United State at the age of 23. She earned her Associate Degree in Nursing at the College of Staten Island and BSN at Wagner College. She is currently working as a Labor and Delivery Nurse at Staten Island University Hospital and as a Psychiatric Nurse at South Beach Psychiatric Center Office of Mental Health New York State. She is also working to earn her Masters degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner at Wagner College. She is a member of Sierra Leone Nurses Association NY chapter and the Chair for the Sierra Leone Charity INC. In her spare time she enjoys helping others, spending time with friends and family and organizing health and wellness activities in her community. She is looking forward to being part of Telem, where she will be able to teach and empower children about Africa and its rich cultures.
Mr. Mbogi hopes to contribute to the social welfare of young children of African descent and help bestow them with the moral fortitude to face the challenges of the future as a member of Telem’s board. He brings over 14 years of experience in the financial services industry in Europe and the USA in small boutiques firms as well as large multinational institutions.
Bethany A. Davis Noll is a lawyer at a corporate law firm in New York City and brings her passion for education to Telem. In addition to teaching and serving as a Telem camp counselor, she contributes a substantial portion of her working day to pro bono matters in environmental health, domestic violence, and immigration matters.
OUR ADVISORY BOARD AND FOUNDING MEMBERS
Mr. Beah is the New York Times bestselling author of A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier, about his experiences in the war in Sierra Leone. Mr. Beah believes in creating opportunities to strengthen young peoples' resilience to discover and use their talents and lives meaningfully and for the betterment of not only themselves but also of their communities and nations. He brings to Telem extensive experience in public speaking and media relations as well as skills in writing and journalism. Mr. Beah is a UNICEF advocate for Children Affected by War, a member of the Human Rights Watch Children's Advisory Committee, founder of The Ishmael Beah Foundation (IBF), Advisory board member of the Center for the Study of Youth and Political Violence at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Co--Founder of The Network for Young People Affected by War (NYPAW). He has spoken before the United Nations, the Council on Foreign Relations and many panels on the effect of war on children.
Sue Coleman has a Preliminary Certificate in Social Care from Hampshire, England. She is working towards a degree in Early Childhood Development. She has been a nanny for over 25 years. Ms Coleman volunteered at a camp coordinated by Diana Musa last summer, and met the most amazing children. It changed her life, and she realized that she wanted the children to have the best possible experience at summer camp. With her years of care-taking skills, and love of arts and crafts, she is a great asset to the Telem camp.
Carrie Gheith has been a social worker for over 10 years. She has provided direct services with various organizations who service the African Diaspora community in NYC for six years. Her motivation to participate in the implementation of Telem Center for the African Child originates from her continued admiration of the NYC African community resilience and the need for further programs to assist in strengthening the next generation of this community with a sense of pride in their heritage.
Ogechi Iwuoha strives to enrich the educational experience of young people. Ms. Iwuoha believes that young people should know that their minds work well and educators must be on-going learners equipping themselves with tools necessary to have this realized. This led Ms. Iwuoha to complete her Masters in Education from Harvard Graduate School of Education. She currently works in the public school system. Ms. Iwuoha brings her love of learning to bear on her work with Telem’s youth.
Ms. Musa originally hails from Sierra Leone where she graduated from Fourah Bay College, the University of Sierra Leone, with a degree in Bachelor of Arts in English, Law and African Political Systems and a Diploma in Education. She completed a Masters in Public Administration majoring in Management at the New York University (NYU) Wagner School of Public Service. Ms. Musa brings to the Telem Center for the African Child, two and half decades of international development experience and a network of colleagues and contacts that span the globe. As a mother of three children raised in the Diaspora, Ms. Musa is keenly aware of the gaps and the needs of African children growing up away from traditional society with little or no social representation and is keen on sharing some of the best values of the continent with African children in the Diaspora. Telem Center for the African Child provides this outlet to share her passion, her knowledge, her childhood songs, games and stories.
Carol Prendergast has been an advocate for human rights and humanitarian issues for more than 30 years. In 2009 she was appointed Visiting Senior Fellow in Human Rights at the London School of Economics. Her research at LSE focused on the intersection of the rehabilitation and treatment of torture victims with the promotion of human rights, public health, and transitional justice. Building on this work, she is currently a consultant to international governmental agencies and NGOs on policy-making that impacts the medical, mental health, legal, social and economic rights of victims of torture and forced migration. She seeks to promote the integration of these rights into the mainstream agendas of human rights, public health, poverty reduction and civil society institutions, funders and policy-makers. She was previously the Director of Operations of the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture and Managing Director of the International Trauma Studies Program at NYU. A graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, Ms. Prendergast has served as a member of advisory committees, working groups and governing boards of numerous NGOs.
Ms. Rogers has focused on improving the lives of African children and their families as Co-founder and former Director of Nah We Yone, a program that serves African refugees and asylees. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Telem Center for the African Child, where she will continue to contribute her knowledge and nurturance on behalf of the children of Africa in America. She has a lengthy experience in the field of mental health, specializing in the treatment of children and families. She worked for 25 years at Harlem Hospital in the Department of Psychiatry, many of those years as coordinator of the Division of Child Psychiatry day treatment programs and later as the Associate Director of Social Work/Psychiatry. Ms. Rogers is currently on the Faculty of the Psychiatric Residency Training Program at Harlem Hospital.
Ms. Rogers has received several awards in recognition of her superb work, including being named Social Worker of the Year in 2001 by the New York City Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, sharing the Union Square Award in 2003 for co-founding Nah We Yone, being honored by the Association of Black Social Workers for her ongoing commitment to children and families in 2005 and receiving the “Star of Sierra Leone Award in 2009 from the Sierra Leone Global Women Organization in appreciation of her outstanding contributions and dedication to the development, empowerment and advancement of Sierra Leoneans nationally and internationally.
Etrel Torne is the bookkeeper for Telem bringing 40 years of accounting experience in the non-profit and profit sectors. Worked mostly for children organizations in the non-profit sector serving at such organizations as Children of Bellevue, Bellevue-NYU Program for Survivors of Torture and Nah We Yone to name a few. At Nah We Yone was responsible for designing and implementing an Art Workshop to work with the Camp's annual theme for different levels in age groups ranging from 5 to 15. She is a graduate of LIU- CW Post with a degree in Professional Accountancy graduating cum laude. She is an avid reader interested in the arts, cook and a marathon runner. She is a mother of 2 adult children, a grandmother, an only daughter and honored to be a friend to amazing women.
Almamy Seray Wurie
Almamy Seray Wurie trained to teach at Milton Margai Teachers College and City College of New York. Currently, he is pre-K teacher at Grand Street Settlement and teaching assistant at Bronx Community College. He worked in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Gambia. His interests are community-building, nature, languages, and current affairs.
Ms. Matilda Weekes is passionate about kids and the African culture, treasures diversity and believes in the power of play in shaping the world’s future leaders. She is grateful for her two school-aged children who make her laugh and cry with joy and teach her about patience. Ms. Weekes brings to Telem rich leadership, communication and fund-raising experiences acquired over the years. She believes in individuals coming together for a common good and being role models for our youths. Ms. Weekes engages in various community activities including scouting, public health, juvenile religious education, public speaking and employees’ welfare in work place. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English and Sociology from the City University of New York, Hunter College, and a Communication Certificate from New York University. For leisure, she enjoys long walks, reading, dancing, TV dramas, movies and spending time with her family.
Fatumata Fofana, Youth Member Advisory Board
Fatumata is 14 years old and attends the Brooklyn Latin School. One quality that she prides herself in is being reliable. She loves public speaking and reading. An extra-curricular activity she enjoys immensely is Mock Trial. She just started it about a month ago but she finds it very fun and educational at the same time. She wants to get involved in helping others and feels that Telem is the best opportunity for that. As the new youth member of the advisory board, she looks forward to giving Telem youth a voice and sharing their opinions and ideas on how to improve Telem with the Board of Directors.
Atinisia Sheriff, Youth Member Advisory Board
Atinisia is a high school senior who plans to study information science and technology at college. Her hobbies include reading, writing, volunteering, listening to music, dancing, reading manga, and programing on codecademy.com. While in school Atinisia enjoys being a part of Key Club, a student-led organization whose goal is to teach leadership through serving others; Robotics and a member of the Student Government. She has gained great leadership skills and feels positive she can encourage and motivate others to get involved in Telem’s programs and activities. Outside of school Atinisia loves volunteering as both a Junior Counselor at Telem Camp and at other Telem events. Volunteering has taught her how to be a team player and how to work well with others even if she disagrees with them. She has learned how to communicate with others and be a responsible teenager. During her time as a youth representative on Telem’s Advisory Board, Atinisia promises to work hard and give her absolute best in everything she does. She is extremely excited and looks forward to working together with the other Board members to accomplish as many goals as possible.