Adopting children from Africa

Derreck Kayongo, founder of The Global Soap Project, shares advice for parents of an adopted child from Africa on how to help them embrace their culture and understand his or her origins
Raising A Child Adopted From Africa -
KidsInTheHouse the Ultimate Parenting Resource
Kids in the House Tour

Adopting children from Africa

Oh my goodness. First of all, let me say anybody who adopts a child should be commended, 'cause that's really fantastic to adopt a child. It speaks volumes about you and your partner for taking a child in. Or even if it was just yourself. So I commend you. But when you have an African child, you want to go back into the story-telling, the oral story-telling era. We are very oral and we are very good at story-telling. Reading is good, but you can also read the book and tell the story so they love that. Because they love to listen, and listen to music and songs. That whole piece really defines who an African is. Without music and story-telling, you've just lost a big part of that culture. Another piece is really developing friendships and having other African communities around wherever you are, if it's in L.A. There's a huge African community in L.A. and D.C., wherever you are. make friends in those communities and have the child go visit and identify with that particular place. Because it makes them proud because kids bully kids all the time and if they don't know where you're from, it's easy for them to make fun of you and for you to say, "Ah okay, now I really don't want to be an African or a Ugandan." But if they really understand who a Ugandan is, then they really understand who they are. My son, who is Ugandan, although he thinks, "I'm American, Dad," I say, "But you're Ugandan origin," because he has now understood who he is as a Ugandan, it's easy for him to stand up for Uganda and understand that culture very well. So I think that particular education is ongoing all the time. Don't give up on it. Keep doing it all the time, and you will have a beautiful African-American kid, or Asian-American kid, or Latino kid, because they will understand their culture and respect it.

Derreck Kayongo, founder of The Global Soap Project, shares advice for parents of an adopted child from Africa on how to help them embrace their culture and understand his or her origins


Expert Bio

More from Expert

Derreck Kayongo

Parent with a Purpose

Derreck Kayongo is a social entrepreneur and the founder of The Global Soap Project. An executive and development expert, Derreck Kayongo has more than 15 years experience developing strategic social campaigns within organizations for cause-related advocacy, public policy, issue management, and community organizing. His work has made a profound contribution in raising awareness aimed at realizing permanent solutions to global poverty.

Kayongo’s journey from child refugee to fearless visionary is filled with moments of inspiration (along with the benefits of good, old-fashioned sweat equity) that make him one of the most popular – and authentic – speakers on the circuit today. From Africa to Atlanta with nothing but a dream and tenacity, Kayongo beat the odds, earned an education, and has served in leadership roles in some of the world’s most respected non-governmental agencies (NGOs) since 1994. Today, he shares his vivacious spirit and invaluable experience in the areas entrepreneurship, environmental sustainability, global health, social justice and professional engagement with audiences in both the corporate and not-for-profit worlds.

Derreck Kayongo’s ability to motivate others to understand the role their work and skills can play in problem solving is one of the many reasons he was chosen as a finalist for the 2011 CNN Hero of the Year AwardAdd to that the mantra of being a voice for the voiceless through his noble work of giving back, including dedicating his life to improving the lives of marginalized and vulnerable people across the globe: he has worked with the American Friends Service Committee as Program Director for the Southeast Peace Education program; joined Amnesty International as the Director of the Southeast Region; and currently serves as Senior Advocacy Coordinator for the Southeast region with CARE International.

In 2009, Kayongo and his wife Sarah embarked on a new journey pursuing their life-long passion of starting an NGO of their own. The Global Soap Project focuses on repurposing partially-used soap from hotels into new soap for needy populations, particularly in Africa. To date, The Global Soap Project has been able to donate 9,000 bars of soap to Swaziland, 5,000 bars to Kenya, 10,000 to Ghana, 1,000 to Uganda and another 3,000 to Haiti.

Derreck Kayongo is a proud naturalized U.S. citizen. He has been recognized as a 2011 CNN HEROES finalist and a COX Enterprise nominee; honored by Congressman John Lewis with a Certificate of Congressional Recognition; is currently writing his autobiography; has been featured in more than 20 news stories in the U.S., featured on Fox News as part of the Real American story series; featured on CNN with Fredricka Whitfield.

Since 1994, Derreck Kayongo has given more than 300 speeches on key issues related to poverty reduction in Africa; mainly on water and sanitation, soap, HIV/AIDS, Child Soldiers, Health and Sanitation, Impact of Landmines in Africa, Countries in Conflict and role of basic Education for Girls in Africa.

More Parenting Videos from Derreck Kayongo >
Enter your email to
download & subscribe
to our newsletter