After building a better life for herself in Harlem, this Côte d’Ivoire native is helping others build their own

Aicha Doumbia moved to NYC from Côte d’Ivoire when she was only 26 years old, in search of a better life. Shortly thereafter, she opened a restaurant on 128th St. specializing in West African cuisine.

She started at Harlem United 15 years ago as a volunteer, at the urging of a friend, who told her Harlem United needed women who spoke French. She worked with the African women program, BONDALA, and the Immigrant Women Program, reaching out to sexually-active African American women, many of whom did not speak English.

“I immediately loved taking care of people. I started working five hours per week, then it turned into 10. Finally, it made sense to give up the restaurant. Money is one thing, but knowledge is another.”

Today, Aicha—quite rightfully—describes herself as a gladiator. April 20, 2015 will mark her 15th anniversary with the agency, where she has held “all of the positions in prevention.” Currently, she is a client navigator, senior data entry specialist, and the face greeting people at the front desk in Prevention. She has a life outside of Harlem United, too, as the vice president of the nonprofit, Association de Ressortisation de Marcory, that offers a range of prevention and health care services to immigrants of Côte d’Ivoire. Harlem United supports ARM in their health fair events, providing testing and enrollment for AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) and the Enroll Manhattan Project.

Fun fact about Aicha?

She loves soccer and hosts a soccer match with her nonprofit every year.