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About us

Safari Yangu, that is Swahili for My Journey.




Our volunteers are from New York and other parts of the country.

our Volunteers:
Nick Ogutu


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Nick is a Columbia University alumni, an award winning human rights activist, and advocate for immigrant’s rights. Nick Ogutu has written extensively, worked with and for refugees, asylum seekers and immigrants.

Nick who is also a longtime member of Amnesty International, has organized several successful campaigns and actions that brought positive changes in different countries including Ethiopia, Kenya, Burundi and Cameroon. Nick Ogutu as the President of Amnesty International Bronx Chapter in New York and his team received the prestigious Hironaka Award from Amnesty International in Washington DC.

Safari Yangu is an idea born out of the research he did as graduate student at Columbia University and as an immigrant’s outreach fellow with New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC). Nick hopes to create a robust alternative platform to advocate for immigrants.


Nick Ogutu is currently writing a book where he will share his personal experiences, as a family man, an immigrant, non-traditional student, community organizer, human rights activist and a survivor of a fatal car accident that almost ended his life.

Kristina Ericson


Kristina Ericson is the SAFARI YANGU Director of Development, Grants and Foundation Relations. Kristina supports grant writing and reporting, event planning, all fundraising-related communications, and more.


Kristina Ericson holds a B.A. in Global Studies and Sustainable Development from Long Island University's Global College. She has lived and worked in 15 countries around the globe - most notably in Uganda and Australia where her field research on human rights and environmental sustainability earned her high honors at the 2016 National Conference of Undergraduate Research, and within her academic community. She is an AmeriCorps alumna, avid volunteer with the USA ParaClimbing team, and outdoor enthusiast.

Grace Cecile

Volunteer - Writer/Mental Health Therapist and Advocate


Grace-Cecile Eya Obame is a French native of African origins who migrated to the United States during her teenager years. She completed her Masters of Social Work at Columbia University and received her Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies: Communication, Legal Studies, Economics, and Government from American University in Washington, DC. Grace-Cecile’s undergraduate program provided her with the necessary skills to e ectively participate in public a airs decision-making and to examine social problems as public issues.

Grace-Cecile is trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), Cognitive Behavioral Therapy(CBT), Problem Solving Therapy (PST), Behavioral Activation (BA) and other clinical modalities.

Nancy Famby


Nancy achieved her BSN at College of New Rochelle and an MBA/Healthcare Management at American Intercontinental University (AIU).

Nancy worked as an Administrator at Greater Hudson Valley Healthcare system (Orange Regional and Catskill Regional Medical Center in New York).

Nancy implemented and lead the Assaulted Staff Action Program (ASAP) at ORMC in 2013 which received the Gold Medal Award for Quality and patient safety in 2015.


In 2013-2014 she  received the Transformational Leadership Award in Nursing and in 2015, Nancy took the task of facilitating the Schwartz Center Rounding for GHVHS; this is a multidisciplinary forum where caregivers discuss difficult emotional and social issues that arise in caring for patients.


Nancy participated in the Steering Committee for Welcome Orange in Orange County. This is a community collaboration initiative that addresses the needs of individuals with complex care needs. Nancy is a Preventing and Managing Crisis Situation (PMCS) Trainer and  successfully led ORMC’s initiative in reducing restraint and seclusion.

Nancy is active in advocating and campaigning for Social Justice. She is the Director of event and community Liaison of Amnesty International Bronx Chapter in New York.

Nitessa Brooks


Niteesa Brooks is a New Jersey native. A recent graduate from Columbia’s School of Social Work. As a social change agent she is passionate about advocating against social injustices. She hopes to integrate her love of sports as a tool to create opportunities for immigrants and refugees.  

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Julie Jesmer

Volunteer - Editor/Cross-Cultural Relations Specialist


Julie Jesmer has a Master’s degree in Social Work (MSW) specializing in program planning and nonprofit organization management. She has traveled a lot, most frequently to Kenya and has worked on several community development projects there. She has mentored several international students in both academic and cultural adjustment arenas. She believes that the best way to get to know another person’s culture and understand the issues they face in through hearing their story. “It is immigrant stories that will change the discourse surrounding immigration issues.”

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Aisha Powell


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Aisha Powell a recent Columbia J-School Graduate where she recieved her Master's in Journalism. She also has her bachelor's in print journalism and innovative entrepreneurship from the Pennsylvania State University. She is currently a volunteer for the Americorps at the New Jersey Community Development Corporation's Paterson School No.5. She has her own scholarship, funded by her fitness blog, for high school students in her hometown and hopes to work more with immigrants in the US and globally.

Omwa Ombara


Omwa Ombara is a political Asylee and a widely travelled international investigative journalist. She is author of a Memoir, “God’s Child On The Run.”

She holds a postgraduate diploma in journalism and mass communication and a BA degree, both from the University of Nairobi, Kenya.

She has a 20-year experience in the media and was the first woman bureau chief in 104 years of existence of the Standard Group in East Africa.  She founded Aids Digest monthly magazine in 2008 and Maisha Save a Breast Cancer Annual Dinner Dance Fundraiser in 2004.

She freelances for Tujipange KE (an e-magazine provides the latest News, Features, Resources and Entertainment from Kenya and its Diaspora and prepares one for successful life both at home and abroad. Omwa Ombara also co-hosts an online Saturday Diaspora Breakfast Live Show, “Kumechacha” (Crossfire).

She currently volunteers as a Volunteer Editor with Safari Yangu, New York office.

Marcia Calle

Volunteer -

Her career experience varies in different areas of mental health. The past 5 years has given different skills to work in substance abuse, partial day programs, school-based settings, and career based programs. The population ages varies from 5 to 60 + years old.

Currently, she is in the process to obtain my Masters of Science of Social Work at Columbia University. During her time in the program,she focused on clinical and programming with different populations. She provides therapy sessions on a weekly and monthly basis. My focus is to help the school environments improve by reducing hostile environment, higher education opportunities, and wellness/nutrition. She is in charge of conducting and scheduling college tours in and out of state, facilitating  group therapy groups focused on young girls to learn healthy coping skills. She’s an assistant coach for the running club , after- school, that focuses on improving a healthy lifestyle.

Other Volunteers:

Esther Lee- Family Defense Advcoate

Hawa Diaby- Family support/Language expert

George Ogutu- Substance Abuse counsellor

Caroline Ndege- Spiritual counselor

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