New American Africans was founded in 2004 by Honore Murenzi, an immigrant to New Hampshire from Rwanda who wanted to ensure that all newcomers had the support and resources they would need to succeed in their new home.
Honore Murenzi fled violence in his native Congo to serve orphans of war in Rwanda. In 2001, he arrived to New Hampshire with his family to build a new life. He discovered quickly that adjusting to life in a new place has its challenges. As he became more adept at navigating through social and cultural norms and systems, he became the ‘go-to’ person for other Africans recently resettled in New Hampshire, many of whom did not speak English and who also needed help adjusting to their new culture. He helped parents to understand their children’s schools. He helped find jobs and create social connections between African community members and the greater Concord community.
Through his hard work and a growing community of supporters and allies, New American Africans was born. Our organization has worked hard since 2004 to connect the strength and resilience of immigrants with the warm and welcoming community we know Concord, NH to be. Over the years, NAA has made thoughtful, steady progress to sustain and expand our organization’s capacity to serve the community and to call forth African leadership and perspective to address and overcome challenges. Since 2009, we have been operating as an independent non-profit organization with a Board of Directors, four paid staff persons and many volunteers and partners.
NAA has been a part of many of the moments that mark Concord’s journey towards becoming a truly welcoming community. In 2012 and 2013, refugee families found hateful, racist graffiti sprawled on the walls of their homes. NAA led the effort to create a local campaign called “Love Your Neighbor” to mobilize a compassionate and positive community response, sending a message to all newcomers that Concord residents value them, and that the community will defend their right to live peacefully and in safety in their new homes. The Love Your Neighbor campaign continues to remind Concord people that the work of being a welcoming community is important and ongoing.