Operation Crossroads Africa (1958- )

Building school with Crossroads Africa, near Kitale, Kenya, 1980
Fair use image

Operation Crossroads Africa (OCA), founded in 1958 by Dr. James H. Robinson, is a non-profit organization which provides individuals with a seven-week experience in Africa. Founded on the principle that cultural immersion is possible through working and living inside Africa, their core values are to challenge the assumptions individuals may have about Africa and lead individuals to understand how African communities are formed. OCA facilitates cultural immersion through group travel and service activities in Africa each summer. They strive for cross-cultural communication, personal growth and promotion of the dignity of physical labor in Africa among educated individuals.

Headquartered in New York City, New York, OCA sponsors projects in up to twelve African countries. Most of the projects, which include construction, health, agriculture, education, and women’s production of goods, are based in rural villages in Africa and involve physical labor. OCA selects groups of eight to ten people who spend seven weeks in Africa during the summer and participate in activities such as the construction of a school, tree-planting, or giving a nutritional survey. Program participants along with the project host live together and spend several hours each day working with villagers on activities. The first six weeks are spent working, while the final week is spent traveling in Africa.

Dedicated individuals and leaders are asked to apply, and OCA warns applicants about the hardships of traveling to Africa. Participants may face conditions which include no running water, no electricity, communal chores, cooking outdoors, and eating a high-starch diet. Disease, illness, and culture shock are also possible. Participants are mostly college students and young professionals who come from a variety of ethnic, racial, regional, and educational backgrounds.

OCA is active today, and the fee for the 2019 Africa program of $3,500 covers airfare, orientation, materials, food, and accommodations.