Philanthropy & International Impact
Through her work with Drexel University and the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders through the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Marilou invests time, legal and scientific knowledge and resources in supporting projects aimed at improving the lives of people in Sub-Saharan Africa. She communicates regularly with program participants, offering advice, encouragement and financial support to their efforts to bring needed food, medical and educational assets to the people of their home countries.
South Sudan Food Desert Project
The COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult for many people in South Sudan to leave their homes to work or buy food, particularly within a group of 21 villages near Juba, where children, young widows and the elderly were starving. Partnering with Mandela Fellow Dr. Peter Ngor Ayok, Marilou raised and donated money and provided support for an effort to provide food to the most vulnerable members of the villages, collecting donations to feed approximately 260 individuals. The donations provided food for households in an amount that would feed them for three weeks at a time. The effort continued through the end of August 2020 until working and other restrictions were lifted and jobs were restored. The philanthropic effort was recognized by the U.S. Embassy in Juba.
South Sudan Girls Internship Program
In July 2020, Marilou worked with Dr. Ayok to create an internship program for young girls within 21 villages in Juba, South Sudan to provide them with skills and education on strategies for raising their families and villages' economic profiles and, most importantly, the community's understanding, perception and appreciation of their value as young women. The internship program, which enrolls 58 girls from age 14 to 19, pays the young women a monthly stipend to learn entrepreneurial skills and create products they can sell to generate additional income for their households.
Ghana Pre- and Postnatal Clinic
Marilou assisted Mandela Washington Fellow Dr. Joel Afi of Ghana in the creation of a pre- and postnatal clinic for his rural village and surrounding villages — which are a four-hour ride from the nearest hospital — to reduce mother and infant morbidity and mortality. Dr. Afi was able to obtain a grant to build the new Abusua Community Medical Centre, which began construction in September 2020. Marilou is supporting ongoing efforts to assist with the purchase of medical equipment and supplies needed in the clinic.