This weekend, about 400 global citizens from around the world came together in New York City to celebrate self-reliance at The Hunger Project’s Annual Fall Gala. In celebration of the Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger, The Hunger Project honored the communities of Africa who are taking charge of their own development, and the investors who are committing their resources to this incredible social transformation.
H.E. Madame Luísa Diogo, the former Prime Minister of Mozambique (from 2004-2010), the first woman to hold the post, was our featured speaker. Madame Diogo is also The Hunger Project’s newest addition to the Global Board of Directors, as of October 2016. She spoke to how the heads of state in Africa have committed to empowering women and girls, including ensuring gender equality in leadership positions, as well as to decentralization. “We have a huge challenge on our hands, but it can be made possible if all of us bring our best leadership, our solidarity, and our endurance, and stay the course,” Madame Diogo said.
The Hunger Project’s President & CEO Åsa Skogström Feldt delivered an address on the significance of The Hunger Project’s first epicenters in Africa demonstrating and declaring their self-reliance to the world. “We are not celebrating self-reliance as simply an isolated achievement,” Åsa said. “This is a springboard to the beginning of a whole new odyssey. One that, to have a truly global impact, calls for actions by our entire Hunger Project family.”
The evening also featured two very special presentations. Janet Owusu Asabre, The Hunger Project’s Microfinance Program Officer in Ghana, spoke the message of Victoria Agyemang, a 61-year-old woman from the Atuobikrom Epicenter in Ghana who is a mobilizer, an entrepreneur and a leader in her community. Victoria had shared that she had felt resigned to living hand to mouth until The Hunger Project came to her community. The Women’s Empowerment Program gave her confidence and she participated in a range of Hunger Project programs. “Being able to give my children the education they wanted and served has given them what I missed in my life,” Victoria shared. Her message to all: “No one is too poor to develop. People just need encouragement to change their mindsets and the opportunity and partnership to take charge of their own future.”
Dennis Denga, the chair of Champiti Epicenter in Malawi, deeply inspired the audience with his presentation, during which he shared how before, he would find small jobs in exchange for food, often falling asleep without eating, and needing to beg for food. “We thought that this was our lot in life,” Dennis shared. “I am now transformed because of The Hunger Project,” he continued. “My wife Bernadeta and I are now the proud owners of a village grocery shop…I have started in a diploma course in Community Development…[and] my three-year-old son Chelsea eats three times a day every day. He has never slept on an empty stomach.”
The evening closed with an invitation to invest by Senior Director for U.S. Fundraising, Supriya Banavalikar, who was introduced by Hunger Project investor and co-chair of the U.S. Development Committee, Joan Salwen. Supriya shared how being part of The Hunger Project’s global movement has given her life purpose, and challenged the audience to “invest and be counted.”
The musical group, Kakande, then led the celebration and dancing. Rowlands Kaotcha, The Hunger Project-Malawi’s Country Director, gracefully facilitated the entire evening’s program.