Words Change Worlds Fundraising Luncheon Headlines Great Day of Events

On May 18, 2017, Books For Africa held its annual Words Change Worlds fundraising luncheon in St. Paul, Minnesota. This year's keynote speaker was His Excellency Ambassador Carlos Dos Santos, Mozambique’s Ambassador to the United States.  We were also pleased to welcome His Excellency Maowia Khalid, Ambassador of the Republic of Sudan to the U.S., and Jeffrey Sturchio, president of the Corporate Council on Africa, as featured speakers.

Ambassador Santos addresses the gathered crowdAmbassador Santos focused on the importance of making education a top priority in Mozambique, and across the African continent.  Highlighting the role of education as a jumping-off point for development, he passionately declared that “We, in Mozambique, place education at the top of all competing priorities because we know that education is an enabler for all other areas of endeavor, be it health, economic or other development activities.  Good political, economic, and corporate governance can only thrive in an environment of good quality education, which is available to all citizens… The transformative impact of books in society is much greater than what statistics can tell us.”  The Ambassador closed by thanking those in attendance, telling the crowd "I wish to conclude by reiterating my deepest appreciation to Books For Africa and all of you for being here, and above all, for caring."

Luncheon guests also enjoyed a presentation by returned Peace Corps volunteer John Olson, who shared photos and stories from a recent project in Liberia.  Mr. Olson, who served in Peace Corps Liberia from 1969-1974, recently returned to distribute specialized teacher resource kits and BFA books to current Peace Corps volunteers and schools in Liberia.  

The fundraising efforts were a resounding success - together, our supporters contributed more than $97,000 in sponsorships, donations and five year pledges, which will sponsor the shipment of tens of thousands of books to African libraries and classrooms in need. This includes 22,000 books to Mozambique in honor of Ambassador Santos, delivered in a container funded by Platinum Event Sponsor Thomson Reuters.  In addition to Ambassador Santos and Thomson Reuters, we offer our sincere thanks to Gold Sponsors Frank Babka and Dr. Clark & Vonnie LaChapelle,  and Silver Sponsors Bremer Bank, The University Club, and Hotel 340! We would also like to recognize each and every attendee that helped to make this event such a great success.

Want to see more? Watch our work in action in this video produced (pro-bono!) for the event by our friends at Hey Man Productions, or see the welcome message we received from Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar!  You can also check out these great photos from the event.  Our thanks to Gabe Photography for the wonderful images!

VIP Breakfast and African Trade Forum

Mike and Donna Wanschura receive the 2017 BFA Warehouse Volunteer AwardThe luncheon was preceded by a VIP breakfast at the University Club in Saint Paul, which included award presentations to BFA's outstanding supporters.  This year’s Container Captain Award was presented to JoAnn Palo, who has worked with passion and enthusiasm to send containers of books to Leadstar University in Ethiopia.  JoAnn is currently working on getting this project’s third full container on the water!  Mike and Donna Wanschura received Warehouse Volunteer Awards. We are thankful for the time and enthusiasm that they invest in sorting books in our St. Paul warehouse.

Following the luncheon a crowd headed to the University of Minnesota campus for an African Trade Forum event, co-hosted by the Minnesota Trade Office and the University of Minnesota Carlson School of Business.  Highlights included remarks from Ambassador Santos and Jeffrey Sturchio, a discussion led by a panel of African business experts, and delicious African fare from our friends at Afro Deli!