September 25, 2007
From Bukalo to the Bishop Walker Dinner:
Celebrating the Empowerment of Women in Africa
Africare in the News:

Welcome, Madam President!Preparations Underway to Honor
Africa’s First Elected Female Head of State
At 2007 Africare Dinner


Contact Africare:
Nicole Eley
Media Relations Manager
202.328.5362 (o)
202.758.5552 (c)

From Bukalo to the Bishop Walker Dinner: Celebrating the Empowerment of Women in Africa

WASHINGTON, D.C. , September 25, 2007 – Since 2004, when her husband passed away from HIV, Jen Matapi has struggled to care for her two children and two grandchildren. Physically disabled, and living with HIV, she cannot work as others do in the fields, and her ability to provide food for her family is limited. She may plant vegetables, but hauling the necessary water for them is a nearly impossible task due to the difficulty she faces walking long distances. Thus, much of the food she provides for her family of five comes from the $50 she receives in disability each month. Although she stretches it as far as possible, it too often comes up short. She and her children and grandchildren know all too well what it means to go to bed hungry.

"We eat what we can. But some days, we eat only buhobe. We have no choice. Our stomachs are empty, but what can we do?" replied Jen when asked about her and her family’s diet.

A Bukalo home-based care group in the Caprivi region of Namibia worked tirelessly to address the needs of families just like Jen. Since 1999, they have worked to provide palliative care, helped orphans with their school work, and assisted with household chores, in an effort to improve the lives of their clients. But time and time again they faced the bitter reality that their work could not address the need most commonly expressed by their clients: Their work could not take away hunger.

In 2003, Africare formed a partnership with the home-based care providers in Bukalo to address the need of hunger felt by so many families in the region. Slowly, the hard-working members of this home-based care group found that they could, with their own skills and knowledge, fill the empty stomaches they felt unable to do just months prior.

Africare began its assistance with the provision of chickens, feed, and materials for the construction of a chicken run. This material support has been complimented by extensive support and training in poultry production and project management skills. Slowly but surely, the group’s project has flourished.

In 2006, the hard work of the Bukalo home-based care was able to provide Jen some of the assistance she needed. Each day, the project members visited the chicken run to sweep it clean, provide fresh water, and most importantly, collect eggs laid by the chickens. These eggs were then distributed to those clients in greatest need of nutritional support – particularly those living with HIV receiving anti-retroviral therapy – clients like Jen.

Each week Jen received eggs which she then boiled and gave to her children alongside buhobe. The impact of this dietary change was significant. The increased protein provided by the eggs helped Jen’s children and grandchildren build muscle and fight infection. A generally better nutritional status slowed the spread of HIV in their bodies and a fuller stomach allowed them to concentrate on school – not upon their growling stomach. Even the slight change that these eggs brought made all the difference.

"Women are the health care agents of the family," reminds Africare President Julius E. Coles. "Improving their health also enhances the health prospects of the family and future generations. They are critical link in our effort to address health and nutritional needs of Africa ."

On Thursday, October 18, 2007 , Africare will celebrate the empowerment of Jen and other women in Africa at the seventeenth annual Bishop John T. Walker Memorial Dinner in Washington , D.C. Now the largest annual event for Africa in the United States , the Africare Dinner 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 .

This year’s theme of "women’s empowerment Africa-wide" will be exemplified by a salute to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia , Africa ’s first elected female head of state. At the event, the Africare Board of Directors will present President Johnson-Sirleaf with the 2007 Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award. Given each year at the Bishop Walker Dinner, the award recognizes those whose work has made a significant impact on raising the standard of living in Africa . Prior recipients include former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, then President Nelson Mandela, Andrew Young, Dorothy I. Height, Graca Machel, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates.

Proceeds from the event help support Africare's mission of assistance to the people of Africa in the areas of food security and agriculture, health and HIV/AIDS, water resource development, environmental management, literacy and vocational training, microenterprise development, governance, and emergency humanitarian aid. The Africare Dinner is a top multicultural affair as well, embracing all races and a wide array of cultures and nationalities from around the world.

For more information on the 2007 Bishop John T. Walker Dinner, contact the Africare Dinner Office at (202) 328-5364 or e-mail

To purchase tables or tickets online, click here. To purchase offline, contact the Africare Dinner Office.