Join us in congratulating IRCO’s very own Isatou Barry! Isatou is one of the winners of Willamette Week’s Skidmore Prize, an annual award given to Portlanders, 35 and under, who are giving back to their communities through their nonprofit work.
Isatou began volunteering at IRCO Africa House three years ago and now works as a youth programs coordinator. She also facilitates the Africa House Youth Leadership Council. She loves working with youth and seeing them empowered.
“When these kids are with us, they are really themselves,” she explains. “You can see the good in them. You can see the leaders in them.”
Isatou has hope for the youth in her programs, despite all the challenges they face in their daily lives. “You see them becoming leaders in their communities. They are a big sister at home. They have to work to take care of the family. They have to take mom to transportation and interpret for her. They have to do all kinds of things.”
Lessons on equity, advocacy and communication, are part of the core curriculum in the programs Isatou manages. She loves seeing students apply these lessons to their daily lives. “It's so beautiful when I see a kid advocating for themselves in school.”
Isatou hopes that all Portlanders can create space for immigrants and refugees to speak up and have their voices heard. “We sometimes spend so much time speaking up for refugees, which is great, but what I say is give them the space to speak up for themselves. Let them tell you what problems they are facing. Let them tell you what really works for them.”