Africare News Release
Africare President Julius E. Coles (left) and Development Associate Patricia Owens (second from left, blue blazer) hold replica of check presented to Africare on May 7, 2007, by Howard University’s AKA Chapter. The sorority donated $42,095 for Africare’s work to combat hunger in Africa. Also pictured are AKA Howard University Chapter officers and members, who led the fund-raising drive.
Howard University AKA Chapter 2007 "Stop Hunger Fast" to Benefit Africare: Most Successful Ever
WASHINGTON, DC, May 7, 2007 — Every year for the past decade, the ladies of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority's Alpha Chapter at Howard University have called upon their campus and community to take action in Africa. Through creative fund-raising campaigns, they have challenged college students, who for the most part live on tight budgets, to dig into their pockets and help fight a problem that faces more than 40 million Africans: the risk of starvation. Their goal: raise awareness and money to combat the prevalence of hunger on the continent of Africa through their “Stop Hunger Fast.” Ten years later, the AKA's Howard University Chapter is keeping the vision of a beloved sorority sister alive and breaking new records of its own.
"It’s a very powerful, and a very gratifying feeling to know that your efforts will touch the lives of people halfway around the world," noted Chapter President Hilary Thomas.
As the first historically black sorority, founded in 1908, the Howard AKA Chapter fittingly selected hunger in Africa as the issue to benefit from their yearly fund-raising drive. The initiative was inspired in 1994 by Melina Calvin Rance, an AKA member. The cause served as a way for her chapter to fulfill its mission "to serve mankind internationally."
Fundraising for Howard’s AKAs typically begins in October with a three-day fast to symbolize the millions of Africans left undernourished or unfed altogether — and culminates with a Candlelight Vigil of remembrance.
In October 2005, the AKA ladies successfully raised $16,000. Their goal in 2006 was to double that number: admittedly a large goal, but not impossible, according to Thomas. On May 7, 2007, Thomas proved her mission was far from impossible, standing with four sisters of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., to present to Africare President Julius E. Coles a check for the largest amount of money the chapter had raised to date: just over $42,000.
As a member of the Greek community, Coles’s eyes filled with emotion as he relayed his sincere thanks and gratitude for the work of Howard’s AKAs.
"Never have I met such a driven and impassioned group of young college women so dedicated to serving the continent of Africa," noted Coles. "They are empowered, compassionate and visionary role models for the rest of us to follow."
In addition to their campaign to stop hunger, the Howard's AKA Chapter members hope their contributions will aid the fight to eliminate disease and close the educational gap in Africa. Africare has been the beneficiary of the sorority’s "Stop Hunger Fast" since the year 2000 and has directed their funding to food, health, and rural development projects across the continent.
"I can say that it’s going to get bigger and better," Thomas said in a speech at Monday’s ceremony. "I guarantee it! We share a similar vision, a similar mission."
According to Africare's Southern Africa regional director, Kevin Lowther, the advocacy and action of the AKAs are what he and the founders of Africare envisioned back when the organization was founded in 1970.
"I’ve been with Africare since its inception," noted Lowther. “And this is exactly what we had in mind. Africare was to serve as an agent to connect African Americans and Africans .…”
The Howard AKA Chapter hosts the yearly "Stop Hunger Fast" campaign as part of its philanthropic duty and commitment to serve the community. This particular fundraiser goes a step further, serving both African Americans and Africans.