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History


AMAAM was established in April of 1983 by Ethiopian refugees in St. Louis to address the adjustment and absorption problems in St. Louis. The majority being part of a well educated intelligentsia there were extreme expressions of high expectations which burdened the resources of resettlement agencies, mainly the International Institute. Through persistent patience by the help of the Institute and the State of Missouri refugee program, the organization became stronger, year by year even serving other Africans such as Angolans, South Africans, the Congolese, Eritreans and later the Somalis, Sierra Leone and Liberians. AMAAM as an organization has withstood very difficult challenges that are seen in a multi-ethnic emerging MAAS (as opposed to culturally and ethnically homogeneous MAAs) because of its strong leadership. Some have paid heavy personal sacrifices to reach to this stage. AMAAM has participated in so many festivals, immigrant advocacy forums, cultural preservation seminars, and has organized first class workshops and conferences from 1987 to present.

In its evolutionary growth it has changed its original name from ERMAAM (Ethiopian Refugee Mutual Assistance Association of MO To ECAM (Ethiopian Community Association of Missouri) first, then to an agency that provides services to the majority of African refugees within the State of Missouri. Because of the growing diversity among African refugees the leadership took a soul searching and pragmatic decision to change the name to African Mutual Assistance Association of Missouri (AMAAM) in September of 2002.

AMAAM raises funds in its international focus for combating HIV and the alleviation of famine. It has advocated on refugee issues by contacting our elected public officials. AMAAM has 6 full time employees with a pool of dedicated volunteers. AMAAM serves 1,200 legal immigrants and refugees every year. Since its formation in 1983 it has assisted about 15,000 African refugees and legal immigrants.

AMAAM had been publishing a newsletter ADAPTATION, since 1986. It has evolved to be the voice of African immigrants and a resource material that has grown with the organization both in content and style.

After September 11 recognizing the magnitude the crime and the tragedy AMAAM has been very instrumental in bringing private and public agencies, interfaith groups, community leaders, immigrants and law enforcement to dialogue and exchange views on the security of this nation which all of us call home. Because of its historical significance we have the February 14,2002 Conference program, its accompanying Adaptation newsletter and press release from DOJ.
 

  
   " Today AMAAM is a recognized MAA by African immigrants, resettlement agencies, government, civil rights organizations, interfaith partnerships, dialogue groups, public and private employers,
local educational institutions of higher learning in St. Louis
and in Missouri. "