A message from Monique LeSarre, Executive Director of Rafiki Coalition for Health and Wellness
Dear Rafiki Family,
It has been a busy and exciting 14 months settling in as Executive Director at Rafiki Coalition for Health and Wellness ("Rafiki"). Some of you may not have had the opportunity to meet me. I'll take a few moments to introduce myself and share my vision for the future of Rafiki. I have focused more than 20 years of my life on equity, social justice, and healing for our community. My goal for Rafiki is to continue to be the loving, justice-oriented, holistic health and wellness hub for Black/African Americans and other marginalized people and operate as a beacon of community, culture, love, justice and healing.
This year we have moved beyond approaching health and equity from a focus on singular diseases (HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and asthma) towards a model that acknowledges the whole lifespan of Black/African American wellness and the importance of working on equity from pre-conception to the end of life. This holistic approach enables us to go beyond simply addressing the biological determinants of health to also addressing social determinants of health, such as education, poverty, food access, community violence, trauma, housing, systemic racism, multi-generational historical trauma, and employment.
As a reflection of our growth we have simultaneously maintained our very strong core programming while increasing program delivery in multiple areas. As a consequence, Rafiki has grown to over 30, full and part-time staff. Our events calendar reflects a variety of programming to meet the needs of our community.
We have continued to explore and participate in new collaborations. One of them is the Preterm Birth Initiative with UCSF, whose goal is to decrease maternal and infant deaths.
Another initiative with SFCAN focuses on cancers that disproportionately impact African Americans. To that end Rafiki is partnering with UCSF on its African American male prostate cancer initiative and is on its steering committee.
Our 11th Annual Black Health and Healing Summit, themed "Kujichagulia" (self-determination) approaches on June 1 and 2. Like last year's Summit, which drew more than 500 participants, we're expecting multi-generational families, community members, healthcare practitioners, musicians and students. And we'll have our pop-up village for artisans and vendors. For more information to register CLICK HERE.