…..Providence| Rhode Island, USA and Liberia| West Africa – Nonprofit NGO Higher Ground International operates the only full service resource center at its new stateside headquarters
Providence, RI | USA – Higher Ground International (HGI), a Providence-based nonprofit NGO working in the rural communities of Liberia, West Africa celebrates the one-year anniversary of its new stateside headquarters and resource center, the Rukiya Center on the South Side of Providence, Rhode Island. The Rukiya Center is the only full service resource center of its kind that is dedicated to providing more robust culturally relevant programming and services for members of the Liberian and African diaspora living in Providence. The organization work has become well known in Rhode Island, gaining critical support from the community, elected officials and partnerships from large non-profit organizations, such as Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island, Lifespan, United Way of RI to name a few.
Founded in 2008 by Liberian native and Providence resident Henrietta White-Holder, Higher Ground International was launched with a mission to “restore dignity, empower lives, and keep peace” for women, young adults, and children impacted by the civil strife in countries like Liberia. This mission extended to both sides of the Atlantic, with HGI working concurrently in Providence and West Africa. In the rural village of Arthington, Liberia, where HGI owns 125 acres of land suitable for agriculture, the organization works on community development, including the construction of basic needs infrastructure like clean water, community bathrooms, literacy and entrepreneurship training for women. Its stateside work is focused on intergenerational workforce development, literacy classes, advocacy, Sweetie Care Elder Service and other wraparound case management services for African immigrant and refugee families living in Providence, home to one of the world’s largest Liberian communities outside Liberia.
The new Rukiya Center offers an accessible, community-focused space in which HGI is able to house its Providence-based work; Rukiya (pronounced roo-kee-yah) is an African word meaning “rising up” or “progress,” and was chosen to mark the progress HGI has made in ramping up its local operations. “It was important to me that we chose an African name,” says White-Holder. “I really want to represent the culture and provide a signal to members of the African community here in Providence that there is a place for them.”
With the organization’s work at the Rukiya Center, White-Holder plans to showcase the work HGI is doing in West Africa where it currently operates in Liberia and endeavors to expand into Sierra Leone. HGI aims to raise awareness of all the services it provides here in Providence. “Being an international NGO, I think we often attract more attention for the work we’re doing abroad,” says White-Holder. “This is an important opportunity for us to remind people that our mission really bridges the gap between West Africa and the African diaspora here in Providence, where we’re providing families with vital services.”