AASA Humanitarian Awards Acceptance Speech – April 1, 2004 PDF Print E-mail


"To His Excellency, Olhaye Oudine Roble and Mrs. Roble, Dean of the African Diplomatic Corps, thank you for your attendance and support. I would like to thank Mrs. Zhor Jazairy, wife of His Excellency Idriss Jaziary, of Algeria, President of the African Ambassadors’ Spouses Association, and Mrs. Haoua Diatta, Chairperson of the African Ambassadors’ Spouses Association’s Gala, and the wife of His Excellency Joseph Diatta of Niger. Also, thank you Ambassador and Mrs. Kassahun Aleye, our hosts for the evening, and their dedicated staff. Your Embassy is splendid. And, I would like to thank all of the wonderful spouses of the 51 African Nations, who comprise the African Ambassadors’ Spouses Association. I am deeply humbled and honored to be here tonight with you. The African Ambassadors’ Spouses Association was founded 26 years ago, with the mission to provide assistance to programs, benefiting underprivileged children in the 51 participating countries. They have done so much, and need all of our assistance in helping them to continue to make life better for the people in their Countries.

On June 4th, here in Washington, D.C. ... the Spouses Association will host their Gala, where the proceeds will go to provide aid to crippled children. I will be supporting them in their effort 100%, and encourage you all to do so.

Over the last several days, I have been meeting with members of Congress. Yesterday, several Ambassadors joined us in our discussion concerning how we can all work together to combat the AIDS epidemic, poverty and other major issues affecting our African family. It is very important to me to help to raise awareness, and funds, for our sister continent... Africa. The statistics are staggering; there are still 9,000 people dying a day of AIDS; there are still children who are overflowing the orphanages; there are so many who are starving and dying of diseases... diseases that we just take aspirin for. As I have said all week, many of life’s pleasures that we take advantage of: running water, electricity, paved roads, working toilets, beds and food, are mere dreams for many in Africa. This cannot continue.

We must use whatever resources we have, to work together to help combat all of these problems. Several members of Congress have pledged their support in our efforts: by continuing to raise the awareness of the American people; and, to continue their fight for proper funding for programs affecting Africa. This is a good thing and we must support them.

Again, thank you, African Ambassadors’ Spouses Association, for what you are doing, I am humbled and honored by this award. And, let me say, you have a friend in Michael Jackson."