Washington, D.C. — Every fall, more than 2,000 international, government and corporate leaders gather in Washington, DC, for what has become the largest annual event for Africa in the United States. The Africare Bishop John T. Walker Memorial Dinner pays tribute to leaders in humanitarian fields pertaining to Africa — and supports Africare's work.
This year, President George W. Bush was the recipient of the Bishop John T. Walker Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award at the event held on November 12 at The Hilton Washington Hotel in Washington, DC. Given annually at the Africare Dinner, this award recognizes the work of an individual or individuals who have made a significant impact on alleviating human suffering in Africa. Prior recipients include President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, then-President Nelson Mandela, former UN Ambassador Andrew Young, women's rights advocates Dorothy I. Height and Graca Machel, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, and philanthropists Bill and Melinda Gates.
"We are pleased this year to have the President of the United States, George W. Bush, as the recipient of the Bishop John T. Walker Service Award," Julius E. Coles, President of Africare remarked. "I cannot think of a more deserving person for this award given the tremendous increase in development and humanitarian resources that President Bush has provided to the continent of Africa to improve the quality of life for the people of Africa."
Since taking office in 2001, President Bush has transformed the way development assistance is carried out on the African continent by creating partnerships with African governments, businesses and civil society organizations to promote economic growth. The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has committed over 60 billion dollars to fight global HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. In addition, his administration has facilitated $34 billion to diminish debt, over $14 billion to invest in economies, nearly $4.5 billion to fight poverty and $10 million for clean water on the African continent.
The theme of the 2008 Bishop Walker Dinner was "Clean Water--Life's Lifeline." With 340 million Africans lacking access to safe drinking water and more than 497 million having no access to proper sanitation, the dinner highlighted the need for clean, safe water on the African continent and Africare's commitment to delivering safe water and improving sanitation conditions.
Among those who attended the dinner were U.S. First Lady Laura Bush; Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jendayi Frasier; Dr. Dorothy I. Height; the Honorable Andrew Young, the Honorable William Frist, MD; Mrs. Thurgood Marshall and actor Dave Chappelle.
Africare is a leading non-profit organization specializing in African development and aid. It is also the oldest and largest African-American led organization in that field. Since its founding in 1970, Africare has delivered more than $710 million in assistance and support — over 2,500 projects and millions of beneficiaries — to 36 countries Africa-wide. Africare has its international headquarters in Washington, DC, with field offices currently in some 25 African countries.
The Bishop Walker Dinner plays an important role in enabling Africare to both broaden awareness about its work in Africa and to raise critically needed funds to deliver life-saving services. Africare is committed to working with Health and HIV/AIDS; Food Security and Agriculture, Emergency and Humanitarian Aid; and Water and Sanitation. The 2007 Africare Bishop Walker Dinner had over 2,000 attendees and raised over $1.1 million.
The Africare Dinner is named after the late John T. Walker, the first African-American Episcopal Bishop of Washington, DC, and long-time Chairman of Africare. Bishop Walker loved Africa and the great energy and beauty of her peoples. He dedicated years of his life to his vision of what he knew Africa could become. Bishop Walker passed away on September 30, 1989.