Travel season is quickly approaching, which for many of us, means gathering the coin to hit a beach in some tropical location with our girlfriends.
But for Ashley N. Company, the founder of Jelani Girls, Inc. and Jelani Women, her entire purpose is to reimagine what traveling means for Black women.
In 2012, the Hampton University graduate took her first trip to Africa to visit Kenya. While there, she had a re-awakening and knew she wanted to create a structured opportunity for Black women and girls to visit the Motherland.
“I started Jelani Girls Inc. because I believe that when we change the way we see Africa, we change the way we see ourselves,” Company told ESSENCE. “I want our girls to be proud of their African heritage, knowing that they are a part of the greater African diaspora. Instead of only telling them, I decided to show them.”
Her non-profit organization Jelani Girls, Inc. founded in 2013, offers young women ages 14-18 years old the opportunity to participate in a Cultural Enrichment Program concurrent with the school year.
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After participating in projects to build an understanding of Africa, their program culminates in a summer Cultural Immersion Trip with their peers from across the country. So far, the young ladies have traveled to Ghana, Trinidad and Tobago, and this year, they’re going to South Africa.
For those of you wondering how these trips are funded, that’s where Company’s Jelani Women comes into play. Jelani Women is a service-oriented group trip to Africa, that not only encourage bonding and exploration, but a portion of funds from ticket sales go to the girls’ enrichment trip.
This year, Jelani Women have trips scheduled for Morocco, Senegal, Kenya and South Africa.
“I am most excited about launching so many new African travel destinations for black women and girls in America to reconnect to the Motherland and be in service,” Company said. “This is the year we get to #ReimagineAfrica and recognize our Black Birthright!”