BS International Area Studies ’01, MS Education ’17
Ahaji Schreffler ’01, ’17, exemplifies the mission and purpose of the Drexel Serves program, which connects alumni to civic engagement opportunities and helps strengthen our surrounding communities. Since 2011, Schreffler has worked with Love Orphanage in Haiti, developing and maintaining the non-profit’s online presence, organizing fundraising campaigns and leading volunteer programs. As Director of Programs in Drexel’s Office of Global Engagement and Education Abroad, Schreffler also leads Intensive Courses Abroad in Haiti, and has facilitated opportunities for Drexel students to volunteer with Love Orphanage.
Schreffler talks about what motivates her passion to serve at home and abroad.
Q: How did you first get involved with Love Orphanage?
A: During my first visit to Haiti in 2011, I met someone who had just started Love Orphanage - with no money, some blankets and a borrowed room – to support children orphaned by the catastrophic 2010 earthquake. I was struck to the core by this act of courage and selflessness. I had never fundraised, knew nothing about nonprofits, and honestly had no idea how I could get involved, but I felt an urgency to do something – anything – to help. A few months later, with one suitcase of supplies and modest fundraising, I returned to Love Orphanage and saw firsthand the immediate impact this effort made for the children. The rest is history!
Q: Describe your role in the organization and the work you do with them?
A: I’m the founder and president of We The Village, a nonprofit dedicated entirely to uplifting the lives of children at Love Orphanage. In this role, I serve as the primary U.S. liaison for Love Orphanage and manage all of We The Village’s operations. We The Village’s impact at Love Orphanage includes funding six years of education, delivering hundreds of suitcases of clothing and supplies, providing a monthly food stipend, purchasing their first passenger van, constructing a new orphanage facility, and running their annual summer camp.
Q: You co-lead two Drexel Intensive Courses Abroad in Haiti – how has your Drexel work and your work with the orphanage overlapped?
A: The relationship between Drexel and Love Orphanage dates back eight years to our first Intensive Course Abroad (ICA) visit. Every student group since has spent afternoons at Love Orphanage and it’s been a joy to intersect my work in Haiti. Many ICA participants have chosen to fundraise for Love Orphanage, contributing toward priority projects. The continuity of visits over the years has extended Drexel’s footprint to Haiti in such a special way. Drexel students learn firsthand about the challenges and needs facing thousands of orphaned children in Haiti. Students always note our visits to Love Orphanage as a highlight of the ICA experience.
Q: What about your Drexel experience inspired or prepared you for your commitment to service?
A: Studying the Francophone world as an International Area Studies major at Drexel fueled my interest in Haiti and desire to visit. The Drexel approach is not waiting to have all the answers, but rather applying what you do know and learning along the way. There have been moments of doubt when I almost talked myself out of running a nonprofit because I didn’t have it all figured out (and still don’t!) Yet I’ve come to realize that just as “ambition can’t wait,” service can’t wait! There are countless needs in our communities and our world. It’s not about having all the answers and solutions – it’s about taking action, even small steps, toward creating positive change.
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