AUWCL Alumna Creates Non-profit to Address Root Causes of Hunger and Abuse
For years, Carolyn Ronis ’14 (LL.M., Law & Government) has had a vision to affect change in the lives of people around the world. In September 2014, she brought her vision to life by starting her own non-profit organization, the International Coalition for the Eradication of Hunger & Abuse (ICEHA).
Working to meet a growing need
The mission of ICEHA is to help those who have been forgotten by large humanitarian aid organizations, which often move from one disaster to another. Carolyn wanted to create an organization that establishes long-term relationships with survivors. ICEHA started by serving about 300 internally displaced persons (IDPs), and due to continuing need, they are now working with approximately 10,000.
Helping IDPs in Nigeria, Ghana, Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea is ICEHA’s primary work. At the onset of each new project, the organization makes contacts on the ground in-country and partners with like-minded groups to provide emergency assistance including food, shelter, clothing, and medical care.
Currently, ICEHA does the majority of its work in Nigeria, assisting survivors of the Boko Haram attacks. After assessing needs, the organization works with local organizations and villagers to obtain housing for displaced families, arrange for medical care for victims, collect backpacks and school supplies for children, and provide building materials to those in need. The organization also works to help bridge the gap between knowledge and opportunity by providing scholarships to fund primary and secondary education for young people and by training the next generation of entrepreneurs in solar energy.
Being prepared to lead
In less than a year, Carolyn’s organization is up and running and making a significant impact. She believes both her classroom and externship experiences at AUWCL helped prepare her to lead an organization. “AUWCL broadened my way of thinking. The combination of classroom learning – facilitated by extraordinary faculty members like Professors Amy Tenney, Leslye Orloff, Dan Marcus, Bill Yeomans, and Jeff Lubbers – and real-world experiences working as an extern with the House Judiciary Committee and Congressman Bobby Scott, opened my eyes in more ways than I could have ever imagined.”
While she’s proud of what the organization has been able to accomplish, she shares that it has been extremely difficult. Leading an organization requires tenacity. The challenges of finding funding, locating trustworthy partners, and dealing with communications issues that come with working in remote villages can be downright daunting. But Carolyn refuses to let these things discourage her. Her faith is her guiding force.
From victim to victor
Carolyn sees firsthand how survivors can move from “victim” to “victor.” Playing a role in improving their lives is the most rewarding experience for her. The organization’s long-term goal is to end hunger and abuse once and for all, and she believes it’s entirely possible with major investments in prevention and early intervention.
Until that day comes, Carolyn is happy to wake up every day knowing that she’s doing her part. And with a cadre of passionate and committed partners by her side, the sky is the limit.