"I CANNOT REMEMBER WHEN I LAST HAD A DECENT MEAL."
by Jennifer Davis, The Africa Fund
New York, New York, United States
October 4, 1996
The Africa Fund
The mailing says recently we received a desperate plea for help from a young Zimbabwean who had just finished his studies in the U.S. The mailing says he had completed an accounting course but the school would not release his degree because he still owed registration fees; an Africa Fund grant helped him to survive and pay his arrears so that he could get work. The mailing says this is a story that is repeated many times every year; The Africa Fund is one of the only places Africans in the U.S. can turn for emergency assistance, given quickly and without red tape; although an Africa Fund grant has to be relatively modest, it can make a huge difference in someone's life. The mailing says we were approached by a refugee from the Cameroon who was seeking political asylum in the U.S.; he had been mugged and lost all his money; the documents he needed for his asylum case were in French and he had no money for a translator; The Africa Fund helped him find a place to stay and paid for an English translation. The mailing says a South African exile finally had a chance to return home to work for the Department of Health, but had no funds for moving expenses; an Africa Fund grant enabled him to take up this important position. The mailing says a leader of the democracy movement in Togo fled to the U.S. and received political asylum; in Togo, he was an accountant but in New York he could only find work as a security guard; The Africa Fund helped him take courses in English and accounting software while he continued to work part time. The mailing says an Africa Fund grant helped a young Mozambican complete his studies in aeronautical engineering at an American university; with this training he will be able to make an important contribution to rebuilding his country which badly needs engineers. The mailing says in some ways our emergency assistance grants are the most personal and satisfying part of The Africa Fund's program; we actually get to see people turning their lives around and building a future for themselves and their families against long odds. The mailing says people we have helped in past years have gone home to serve their countries as cabinet ministers, scientists, civil servants, journalists or doctors. The mailing says but there is nothing more heartbreaking than telling all African in desperate circumstances that we cannot help because our emergency assistance funds are inadequate; unfortunately, our limited resources force us to turn people away much too often. The mailing says I am asking you to help us continue to provide grants to Africans who face a temporary emergency; only your generosity, and that of caring people like you, makes this work possible.
Used by permission of Africa Action (successor to The Africa Fund).
Collection: William Minter Southern Africa Papers