Mission & History

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Our Mission

Founded in 1981 by Ethiopian refugees to give a helping hand to other newcomers, today African Services is a multiservice human rights agency based in Harlem and dedicated to assisting immigrants, refugees and asylees from across the African Diaspora.

Our programs address the needs of newcomers affected by war, persecution, poverty, and global health inequalities. We provide health, housing, legal, educational, and social services to more than 6,500 people each year. Staff representing more than 20 countries and speaking over 25 languages provide culturally and linguistically relevant support to this diverse and growing community.

Expanding HIV prevention and access to AIDS treatment and care is central to our mission. African Services has taken this work from Harlem to the frontlines of the global pandemic and now operates three health and community development centers in Ethiopia.

We are committed to challenging stigma and discrimination at all levels and supporting individuals, families and communities most impacted by AIDS. Combined with life-saving treatment, this care and support has transformed thousands of lives.

Our History 


African Services Committee was begun in 1981 in Bronx basement apartment by Asfaha Hadera. Asfaha arrived in the United States having experienced first-hand the realities of refugee life. Asfaha fled his home country of Ethiopia in 1977 for refugee camps in Sudan, before emigrating to the U.S. in 1979. Upon arrival, he saw a lack of assistance for others, like himself, who were refugees from conflicted areas throughout Africa. So, he established the organization to give a helping hand to other African newcomers and, with Kim Nichols, began refugee resettlement programs in New York City.

As immigration from the continent increased and our offices expanded to their current home in West Harlem, and African Services' priorities widened to include broader support services for African immigrants coming to the United States including:


  • HIV/STD/TB/Hepatitis B and C testing

  • Diabetes & Blood Pressure Testing

  • Hospital Escort & Medical Interpretation

  • Legal Services & Immigration assistance

  • Case Management & Family Support

  • Housing Placement Assistance

  • Independent Living Skills Program

  • Food Pantry & Nutrition Support

  • ESL Classes

  • Community Outreach & Health Education

  • Advocacy & Policy Work

The services have expanded to serve over 12,000  people each year in our Harlem location and continues to grow each year.

Above photo of ASC Founder and Co-Executive Director, Asfaha Hadera courtesy of Vitamin Angels/ Matt Dayka