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ALG’s services for migrants through the eyes of two new arrivals

Two recent arrivals to the Denver area from Africa illustrate the continued lure of life in the United States, the use of the southern border as a new point of entry from people across the world, and the new needs the African Leadership Group is pivoting to address.

ALG is offering English and life skills classes, has held resource and health fairs, is helping people find places to live, and is continuing to explore how else it might be of service to the new residents, who continue arriving in significant numbers.

ALG has served more than 700 new arrivals from Africa in the past several months. ALG Founder and Executive Director Papa Dia said that in many ways the influx of Africans is hidden from public view, because most of the new arrivals are single men. Because they have no children with them, they don’t show up in the enrollment data from public school districts.

Many of them arrive penniless, unprepared for cold weather, and desperate to work but unable to because of the slow process of obtaining federal work permits.

Azizou, a 30-year-old man from Togo, came to the Denver area in September after “social, political, and family issues” drove him from his homeland. He had been working in international trade as a commercial agent before fleeing.

His journey to Colorado was an arduous one. He flew to Brazil from Africa and then made his way through 10 countries to arrive at the southern U.S. border. He took buses, hitchhiked, and walked for five weeks.

“I had to walk through jungles, cross rivers where the water was up to my chest,” Azizou said. “It was very difficult.”

Azizou’s uncle lives in the Denver area, so he made his way here. Shortly after arriving he was out looking for any kind of work to earn a little money when he met a woman from Uganda, who told him about ALG and the different kinds of assistance they could provide him.

“I want to thank Papa Dia and ALG for everything they have done for me,” Azizou said. “I am finding the English classes very helpful because I want to be able to communicate.” In addition, ALG has provided him with winter clothing, and advice about adapting to life in a new country.

Mamadou arrived last summer from Mauritania in northwest Africa. A 32-year-old student of French literature, he fled his homeland because of racial persecution and injustice. He felt unsafe in Mauritania, and saw no path forward that wasn’t blocked by overt discrimination.

He took a circuitous route to the U.S. He made his way to Turkey, then Colombia, up to Nicaragua the across Central America to the southern Mexican border, then up the length of Mexico to the U.S. border.

“There were many different, difficult steps to get here,” he said.

Through contacts. Mamadou found a place to live with an ALG volunteer, who connected him to the organization and its services. Like Azizou, he has benefited greatly from ALG’s English classes.

“My English has improved, which has been very helpful to me,” he said.He has also received donations of food and clothing, as well as logistical support from ALG.

Both Azizou and Mamadou were part of a group of migrants Papa Dia took to the National Western Stock Show on Martin Luther King Day on Jan. 15. They attended the rodeo, viewed the livestock, and wandered around taking in the sights, sounds, and smells. 

Both men came away dazzled. “That was the first time I had been exposed to an amazing experience like that,” Azizou said. He especially loved the rodeo.

Mamadou said he was highly impressed by the horsemanship skills of the riders. “The spectacle was amazing, any way you look at it,” he said. “And people were very welcoming to us.”

ALG  is in constant need of donations of food and clothing to assist the ongoing stream of new arrivals. Please call us at 303-862-4062 or email us at

Below is a video from CBS Colorado about ALG and the newly arrived African migrants.


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