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October 09, 2013

A Gala for Africa at Spago

By Ingrid Skjong | Philanthropy

A Gala for Africa at Spago
Courtesy of Dream for Future Africa

On October 24, the Dream for Future Africa Foundation, founded by Gelila Assefa Puck, will host a gala at Spago Beverly Hills (176 N. Canon Dr.; for tickets, call 310-205-2549; dffaf.org). There will be toasting and special guests (Naomi Campbell and Amber Valetta included), but the heart of the event will be a mission: to offer opportunities and equal treatment to those in need in Africa, particularly children and families.

Following the lead of its first vocational training center in Aleltu, Ethiopia—which opened last month and helps students navigate the space between traditional schooling and a professional work life—the organization is currently focused on opening a series of centers throughout the continent. “It means a lot to be able to give them a promising future into adulthood,” says Assefa Puck (pictured above, seated in the middle), who is married to chef Wolfgang Puck. We chatted with her about the vision.

Q: What prompted you to start Dream for Future Africa?
A:
It was established in 2010. Prior to 2010 I had been supporting a school in a small village outside Addis Ababa, the capital city of Ethiopia. Back then the school had 21 children. Today that school serves over 700 orphans. The idea for the vocational training center was born as the first children we enrolled in the lower school were graduating high school. The foundation’s purpose is for the children who do not make it into a university obtain skilled training to help them transition into a career so they can provide for their families.

Q: How far has the organization come since its inception?
A:
In 2011 we did a groundbreaking with the help of the Annenberg Foundation to build the first phase of the vocational training center. Today that building is fully completed and the first round of high-school graduates enrolled in courses for communication technology, garment manufacturing, textile and sewing. Our mission is to create additional programs to help create sustainability for these children’s future.

Q: What has touched you the most since you started this?
A:
It is touching to watch these children, who I have helped support since kindergarten, graduate from high school and then be able to secure next steps to their future.

Q: And what have you learned?
A:
In Africa a little goes a long way, which is empowering.

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