In 2007, teens from Eritrea and other East African countries were getting in trouble on the streets of Seattle, Washington. A group of community leaders, led by Amanuel Yohannes, an immigrant from Eritrea, Ethiopia formed Salaam Urban Village Association (SUVA). The goal was to foster positive civic engagement, to provide services to the East African refugee community and to improve relationships between City of Seattle neighborhoods and refugee/migrant communities.
The mission of SUVA–to foster positive civic engagement–evolved through a series of community meetings.
Supported by grass roots contributions from community members and limited grant funding, SUVA launched services that included after-school programs, tutoring, referral to social services, translation services and inter-generational connections to link young people to their elders.
After seven years of providing services to East African refugee communities, it has become apparent to us that we need to promote deep change rather than simply responding to gap needs in the community.
The new SUVA, launched in 2014, has a focus on developing leadership within the African migrant and refugee community. We still provide services within neighborhoods in and around Seattle, but we now have a global focus. We are linking with migrant/refugee communities across the United States and around the world in order to find shared solutions to common challenges and to identify and train a new generation of African leaders.