African Refuge

Serving African Refugees, immigrants and low-income families since 2003.


On November 15, 2008, the Executive Board of African Refuge was commissioned and the organization subsequently became a Staten Island based organic organization with the primary mission of improving the quality of life of refugees, immigrants and low-income Americans. African Refuge has emerged as a leader in Staten Island, in the city, and even on a national level, as a model community resilience project. African Refuge has partnered with colleges and universities to conduct research relevant to its mission, convened civic institutions to improve services to the community, provided leadership to efforts to improve police-community relations, led community improvement projects, and developed innovative programs to engage disadvantaged youth. Furthermore, African Refuge has received substantial funding for programs and activities from the Citizens Committee of NY, the New York Community Trust, the Staten Island Rotary Foundation, Independence Community Foundation and other philanthropists. African Refuge has also received frequent press coverage on local, national and international news media, including a two-part feature on NBC's Night Line in 2008.

Accomplishments to date include:

  • Institution of a culturally sensitive and integrated community-based after after-school tutoring, recreation and arts program in collaboration with the International Rescue Committee (IRC);

  • Computer literacy classes;

  • The initiation of a youth group called,  “Future Leaders” as an alternative to gang activities;

  • Implementation of a “Mural Project,” in which 40 youth volunteered in the creation of a painted wall mural inside the Drop In Center with the goal of designing a project to build trust, awareness, understanding, and drawing of the community together across different cultures to reflect pre- and post-settlement experiences in the US;

  • Summer youth soccer tournament in collaboration with the Police Athletic League in which more than 50 youths participated;

  • Development of an ongoing family assistance program in which community members receive a variety of psychosocial and other supportive services, and referrals;

  • An on-going volunteer program with students from Wagner College;

  • The institution of a community newsletter called “ Under The Tree” with an initial grant from the Citizens Committee of New York;

  • More than 50,000.00 worth of professional pro-bono services and financial donations from philanthropists;

  • Inauguration of the Family and Youth Center in Parkhill;

  • Initiation of immigration and citizenship assistance program in which more than 25 citizenship applications were processed;

  • Establishment of a health promotion program to address the medical needs of West African immigrants and refugees as well as low income families;

  • Partnership with the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), Diaspora Project to collect statements;

  • Creation of a Youth Task Force to address the growing tension between African Diaspora youth and their African American counterparts in October 2007.

Due to the success of the Drop-In Center, Unithree Investment Corporation, the company who donated the original space in the summer of 2007, donated a larger space for the creation of the Parkhill Community Youth and Family Center, which was inaugurated in the fall of 2007. Prior to this commitment, such a community center did not exist within walking distance of the Parkhill community.



Community Health and Outreach Accomplishments:


One of our goals is to promote the health and wellness of our constituencies and other low-income families. On September 14, 2008, African Refuge hosted a health fair in partnership with twelve organizations including Wagner College, Community Health Action of Staten Island, Project Hospitality, Red Cross of Staten Island, Red Cross of Greater New York, Health Plus, Fire Department of New York, Nate’s Pharmacy, and SIUH. The  Services provided included weight and BP screening, health education, benefit counseling, face painting for kids and other social services through Project Hospitality. Community Health Action of Staten Island provided free  HIV testing and counseling, HIV/AIDS  education handouts, and Red Cross  provided free refreshments  including other give aways by other partners.  Approximately 200 people attended.


On October 12, 2008, African Refuge hosted  another successful  health fair in partnership with eight organizations at the Christ Assembly Lutheran Church in Staten Island, one of the largest African Christian congregations in Staten Island. Participating organizations provided free  flu, pneumonia, and Gardasil vaccinations, as well as diabetes and cholesterol screenings, BP and weight screenings, health education, and referrals.


African Refuge has received the following awards:

  • 2009 Max Hayman Award

Executive Director/Creator Jacob Massaquoi has received the following awards:

  •  Staten Island Liberian Community Association Service Award, August 4, 2010