Ambassador Wonekha Raises Funds, Awareness in Fight to End African Book Famine

Ambassador Wonekha Raises Funds, Awareness in Fight to End African Book Famine

Last week, Books For Africa held our annual fundraising luncheon in St. Paul, Minnesota. This year, our featured guests were H.E. Oliver Wonekha, Ugandan Ambassador to the United States, and Ambassador Donald Teitelbaum, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs.

Ambassador Wonekha delivered a captivating keynote speech focused on why access to quality books is important for families in Africa. She said that when books are introduced to a community, "you equip the children. With books, they are able to get skills. You give the parents of those children hope. Because every parent, whether he or she has ever been to school, when their children go to school they see a future."

Her Excellency also spoke of literacy and education as an alternative to violence, powerfully juxtaposing the images of books and guns: “We talk of empowerment, empowering with guns - give us books! Then we’ll make choices. You give us the opportunity to choose. When you give books to Africa, you tackle the fundamental…problems of poverty and illiteracy.”   Ambassador Wonekha’s words echo BFA’s commitment to giving that opportunity – that choice, to the next generation of Africa parents, teachers and leaders.

Proceeds from this event will sponsor over a quarter million books to the African continent! This includes 22,000 books to Uganda in honor of Ambassador Wonekha, delivered in a container funded by Platinum Event Sponsor Thomson Reuters. The impact of this event will continue to supply books to African libraries and classrooms for months and years to come; we are deeply grateful to all of our sponsors and donors for their generous support!

(Photos courtesy Zach Forstrom)

 In addition to the luncheon the day also featured a breakfast reception for BFA Kilimanjaro Society members, and an event focused on U.S. trade with Sub-Saharan Africa, titled Africa Forum: Business and Political Trends in Africa . This event was held in partnership with the Minnesota Trade Office, and featured a keynote speech by Ambassador Teitelbaum. Be sure to see this article from the Minneapolis Star Tribune , co-authored by Ambassador Wonekha and BFA Executive Director Patrick Plonski, to learn more about the potential of U.S. - African trade opportunities.  At the breakfast event attendees exchanged gifts with Ambassador Wonekha, and key BFA supporters were recognized for their exceptional efforts at our annual awards ceremony.

We could not continue our mission to end the African book famine without dedicated supporters. This year’s Kilimanjaro Society Award was presented to Harry Lerner of Lerner Publishing Group, in honor of his commitment to providing new, high quality schoolbooks, and for sponsoring their shipment to African schools.

Seth Eggessa was this year’s Container Captain Award recipient. Seth is a determined fundraiser, and an ambassador of BFA’s ongoing relationship with Rotary International. His efforts have delivered thousands of books to the Jinja, Uganda area. Seth serves as a Book For Africa board member and is a member of the Roseville Rotary Club.

Barb Neal and Paul Nelson received Warehouse Volunteer Awards. We are thankful for the time and enthusiasm that they invest in sorting books in our St. Paul warehouse.