Alumna’s Startup Brings Educational Opportunities to at-risk Youth in Zambia
Anna Butler wasn’t ready to leave Zambia.
It was August 2013, and Northeastern’s Human Services Dialogue of Civilizations program was wrapping up. As part of her program, Butler was conducting a capacity building project with the Fountain of Hope Association, a refuge for orphaned and vulnerable youth in Zambia. Her work involved outreach visits to the streets to help rehabilitate homeless youth and children in need.
When the Dialogue program ended, Butler felt her work wasn’t finished. She remained in Zambia through much of the fall in what ultimately became a self- developed international co- op. She said that experience led her to found Modzi, a nonprofit that fills a gap she identified with marginalized children’s needs.
“I loved the hands- on experience, and I could feel the impact I was making,” Butler, now a Northeastern alumna, said of her work on the Dialogue. “The longer I was there, the more I realized the importance of removing a child from vulnerable situations.”
She added: “I wondered how we could not only rehabilitate a child but reintegrate that child into society, ultimately helping them to become a change- maker in their community. I saw a need, and though some of these children were being helped, I could see there was so much more potential.”
Butler, SSH’14, is founder and president of Modzi, a word that means “one” in Chinyanja, one of more than 70 languages spoken in Zambia. The organization secures funding to support a child’s entire secondary education, and collaborates with community organizations to provide youth with a range of individualized services such as private tutoring and mentoring.