ADODOADJI: We do have a program in the United States essentially focused on young people. We work … to give them a better understanding of the world they live in and be part of the solution to the problems. … I went to an event in Providence recently, and there were about 50 young Rhode Islanders who were raising money for AIDS victims in Uganda. It’s changing their lives, because they have a better understanding of what’s going on in the rest of the world. … It’s a powerful program, and I’d like to see us expand it nationally. It’s called YUGA – Youth United in Global Action.
PBN: Can you give me a concrete example of the work Plan USA is doing overseas?
ADODOADJI: One exciting project we’ve done is in a country called Burkina Faso in West Africa. We got a $13 million grant from the U.S. government from USAID [U.S. Agency for International Development] to promote the education of girls. It’s been established throughout the world that when you invest in the education of girls, it changes the whole community. It involved building schools that are girl-friendly, things as simple as building separate lavatories was enough to promote children coming to school. Also, we’re involved with improving teacher training. We’ve built 132 schools.
PBN: What do you say to people who would argue those dollars should be used in the U.S.?
ADODOADJI: That’s a reasonable comment, but what I always say to people is that we Americans have access to resources; we have access to foundations, corporations. But we’re dealing with communities that it’s almost zero. Secondly, the American spirit has always been to help people to help themselves, being part of creating a better world. Thirdly, I think now we live in a world that has become more dangerous. … If you provide the opportunity to have access to education for children. ... We are creating a world that in the long term will boost our security.