Africare News Release

 

 

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President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of the Republic of Liberia delivers her award acceptance speech at 2007 Africare Bishop John T. Walker Memorial Dinner. President Johnson Sirleaf received the Bishop Walker Humanitarian Award. Photo by Gustave Assiri.


First Lady Laura Bush delivers tribute to President Johnson Sirleaf, as part of the award presentation at the 2007 Africare Dinner. Photo by Gustave Assiri.

Recipients of the Africare Legacy Awards pose for a picture at the 2007 Bishop Walker Dinner. The award is a Malian Chi Wara (or, "farming beast") wood carving. Created by the Bamana people of Mali, this mythical creature, according to legend, is part antelope and part human and is credited with producing agriculture. Pictured (left to right): Africare Co-Founder and Former President C. Payne Lucas; Legacy Award recipients Kevin Lowther, Alan Alemian and Alameda Harper; Board Chairman W. Frank Fountain (behind statue); Africare Senior VP Jeannine Scott; Legacy Award recipient Elton King; Africare President Julius Coles; and Africare Co-Founder and Former Senior VP Joseph C. Kennedy, Ph.D. Photo by Gustave Assiri.

A Night to Remember

2007 Africare Bishop Walker Dinner Honors Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Raises $1.2 Million for Africare

WASHINGTON, D.C., October 19, 2007 — On Thursday evening, October 18, at the Hilton Washington Hotel in Washington, D.C., the 2007 Africare Bishop John T. Walker Memorial Dinner welcomed over 2,000 leaders and distinguished guests from around the world to celebrate the empowerment of women in Africa and to honor Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: Africa's first elected female head of state. President Johnson Sirleaf received Africare's 2007 Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award.

"As the first woman president of an African country, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf serves as a shinning beacon and testament to our theme of empowering women in Africa," noted Africare President Julius E. Coles. "I have known Ellen for 35 years; I have tremendous respect for her and the passion she has for promoting democratic institutions and development in her country. Africare is honored to salute her as the 2007 recipient of the Bishop Walker Humanitarian Award. "

The award, given annually at the Africare Dinner, recognizes the work of an individual or individuals who have made a significant impact on raising the standard of living in Africa. According to President Johnson Sirleaf in her remarks that evening, her work to restore Liberia's infrastructure and well-being is how she prefers to be remembered: "Tonight I ask you not to celebrate me or my presidency, but to celebrate the Liberian people, " she stated. "I want to be remembered for a Liberia where the educated children smile again, knowing that they can remain at home and be whatever they want to be. With your continued support and assistance, I know we can get there. "

Among those present to honor the Liberian president were U.S. First Lady Laura Bush, BET founder Bob Johnson — the National Chair of the 2007 event — and actor Chris Tucker. Mrs. Bush led a panel of distinguished speakers who paid tribute to the work of President Johnson Sirleaf. Also delivering tributes were Jacques Diouf, Director-General of Food and Agriculture Organization of the U.N., and Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey of New York.

"We are honored to host the First Lady at Africare's 2007 Bishop Walker Dinner," noted Africare's Vice President of Marketing and Development, Nancy Kyger. "Mrs. Bush is actively involved in issues of national and global concern, as well as a dear friend and supporter of President Johnson Sirleaf."

The Africare Dinner is a top multicultural affair as well as the largest annual event for Africa in the United States. The event was first held in October 1990 in memory of the late John T. Walker, the first African-American Episcopal Bishop of Washington and the longtime Chairman of Africare's Board, who passed away on September 30, 1989.

Prior award recipients include former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, then President Nelson Mandela, and other distinguished individuals such as Andrew Young, Dorothy I. Height, Graca Machel, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates.

In addition to the Bishop Walker Humanitarian Award, Legacy Awards were presented at the 2007 Dinner to four of Africare's core staff members almost from the organization's beginning: Alan C. Alemian, Alameda E. Harper, Elton I. King and Kevin G. Lowther. All four have now retired. Together, they provided more than 100 years of service to the people of Africa — marshaling assistance valued at more than $600 million.

The Africare Legacy Award was created to acknowledge the contributions of those whose life work has had a positive impact on Africa. Prior recipients include Congressman Charles Rangel of New York, Dr. Clifton Wharton (former Deputy Secretary of State) and Africare co-founders C. Payne Lucas, Joseph C. Kennedy and Dr. William Kirker.

The 2007 dinner raised just over $1.2 million. Proceeds will help support Africare's essential mission of improving the quality of life in Africa.

"Africare's work is dedicated to helping Africans help themselves, " noted Coles. "Our programs are constructed under the fundamental belief that empowering communities will develop and sustain healthy economies and infrastructures. Africare joins hand in hand with the people of Liberia as we continue down the road of reconstruction."

 

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