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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

BOSSCHIQUE(ISM): Introducing Ms. Diana Musa Co-Founder of Telem Center for the African Child New York

On this month's Bosschique(ism) feature I am so excited to present  our Bosschique Ms. Diana Musa. I met Ms. Musa about a year ago during one of her fundraiser events for the Telem Camp for the African Child. Telem offers services to Immigrant children and their families in the New York City area. I immediately took into her spirit especially how passionate she talked about being African in the states and the importance of instilling certain values and a sense of community amongst second and first generation born African immigrant children. She is a humble, hardworking, and amazing person and I look forward to sharing her story with you all .  For those WCA readers who are thinking of starting a nonprofit organization, Ms. Musa is a good role model and her story read to help guide you along the process and of course serve as inspiration. Ladies and gentlemen we hope you enjoy Ms. Diana Musa's journey as much as we did! To find out more about her work and her organization visit Find out more at, email or visit


Q: Who is Diana in one word?

A: Effective

Q: So you are Sierra Leonean? Where are you currently based and tell us a bit about your childhood and yourself? and how you got involved in working with the African immigrant community?

A: I am a Freetown Titi born and raised in Freetown, Sierra Leone who moved to New York when I was 12 years old. I grew up in Aberdeen and spent weekends in Kissy with my cousin’s family. We were raised by strong independent women, who shaped their own paths while being deeply committed to improving the lives of their family and friends.  My work with young African youth came about because of a need to give back and to find others like myself, growing up straddling two cultures.

Q: Please share with us what a typical day looks like for you in your work and tell us the many hats you wear as a woman?

A: A typical day starts at 5:30am with my commute to work in the Bronx as a school based occupational therapist for three NYC public schools.  I love my work with children with special needs, helping them learn skills to better function in school and life.  My volunteer work as Telem’s president takes up the afternoons, evenings and weekends – planning programs and events that fit our mission, fundraisers to ensure those programs/events happen, seeking out potential program partners and supporters, responding to correspondence and some bookkeeping.  The best part is always when an event comes together with the help of awesome volunteers and the kids are enjoying themselves.

Q: What is one thing you enjoy doing outside of your work life?  Please tell us?
A:  I am a massage and brunch addict. I am forever looking for good, affordable deals to indulge my habit.

Q: What is a challenge you have faced in the past and how did you overcome it?
A:  Occupational therapy graduate school was really difficult. That was the first time I had to study hard to pull the grades to which I’d become accustomed. I was working full time and going to school full time on the weekends.  It was a lot of telling friends I couldn’t hang out because of school work.  But it was so worth it. It helped to have other people in the program going through the same thing.

Q:  So you are one of the Co-Founders of Telem, please tell our readers a bit about what Telem is and how the idea came to be?

A: Telem is a NYC based non-profit organization 100% volunteer-run which provides cultural, educational and recreational programs for children of African descent to explore and celebrate their heritage.  It was founded by a group of like minded volunteers who felt it was important to support and create a community of and for children who are figuring out what it means to be African.

Q:  What would you say sets you apart from others as a humanitarian
A:  Telem is proud of its focus on celebrating children of African descent here in the Diaspora.

Q: One of the things I was fortunate to witness was Telem Camp. As an immigrant who lived in the states for some time, I wish I could attend such a camp. Please describe what goes on at Telem Camp. What types of services do you offer at Telem Camp?  How can people access your services and who is eligible?
A: Telem Camp creates a community of children who share similar experiences growing up in NYC, while being part of two cultures.  It is an annual 3-day, overnight summer camping experience during which children learn more about and explore their African heritage through fun, educational workshops and activities which may include eating African food, taking an African dance class, sewing African fabrics or learning the tools to tell their stories with our radio workshop.  Other campers, counselors and workshop leaders create the community in which children are encouraged to share common experiences, voice their concerns and support each other. Telem Camp is open to children ages 5 to 16. 

Q: What advice would you give to someone who wants to go into the Non for profit industry In the States?
A: Be clear in what it is you hope to achieve and define a clear mission. Conduct research to find out if existing organizations are already doing the same work and explore possibilities for partnership. Before proceeding, you must find others that are just as passionate about and committed to the mission.

Q: 10 years from now where do you want Telem and where do you see yourself?
A: Ten years from now, Telem has some paid staff and an office that permits us to host our programs and events on site. We have consistent and generous funding for the programs we wish to host.  Telem Camp is longer than three days and we are serving increasingly larger populations of children of African descent. We have meaningful partnerships with other organizations doing similar or complementary work with youth.

Q: Any plans of doing some work in Sierra Leone?
A: We are open to any collaboration that complements or furthers our work in improving the lives and celebrating the experiences of children of African descent here in NYC.

Q: Can you tell us the top 3 things every woman needs to be successful in the nonprofit industry?
A:   Passion, Persistence and Partners

Q: Please tell us who are 3 African women you admire and why?
My mother is the African woman I admire the most because of her intelligence, strength, generous spirit and laugh.  She is someone I can count on unquestionably, we share similar world views and she is an awesome cook.  I am incredibly grateful to the many women from varied backgrounds that have shaped my views, dreams and achievements.

Q: Finish the sentence  “Women Change Africa because…..?”
A: we must and we do.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful inteview and great work! This is really important for kids of the Diaspora and I wish it could be upscaled.
    This enables kids not to be disconnected form their roots and to avoid questions like "mummy do you have water in your country".
    Much props!

    Women change Africa because we bad-ass (dixit Ava Duvernay)!


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