Wednesday, December 15, 2010

AfriMETRO Honors Prominent Africans at New York Gala

AfriMETRO Honors Prominent Africans at New YorkGala
By Pamela Appea

Published by Amandla Newspaper
Volume 9 Issue 12 973-419-0073 / 973-731-1339 An African Community Newspaper December 15, 2010 - January 16, 2011

AfriMETRO, a nonprofit and professional networking association and New York University’sWagner Students Alliance for Africa hosted a Holiday Gala and “Golden Jubilee” on December 8 at NYU’s Kimmel Center in the East Village, attended
by more than 125 participants.

The gala was a fundraiser for global literacy; honoring several community
heroes that have devoted significant time and energy to Africa and the African Diaspora community including essential causes such as literacy, maternal health and human rights.

“This year has been a particularly exciting year for AfriMETRO,” said founder Folake K. Ayoola who the day after the Golden Jubilee NYC event was on route to Houston,
Texas for another professional gala and event.

“AfriMETRO’s work is important in the community because we are one of the very few organizations in the tri-state area with African professionals and “friends of Africa” focused on building a new positive image of Africa and Africans.We do
this by organizing business, charitable and professional networking events that inform, educate, empower, and celebrate Africa and Africans. Our history is grounded in the spirit of collaboration and community, Ms. Ayoola said.

AfriMETRO’s gala featured honored guests including Her Excellency Ambassador Joy Ogwu Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations and Former Nigerian
Foreign Minister and Former Director-General of NIIA and the Honorable Ibrahim Auwalu, Consul General of Nigeria to the United States. The Consul General of Angola
Júlia de Assunção Cipriano Machado also attended.

The event boasted a fashion show with original designs, dozens of Nigerian and African dishes, music, a silent auction and networking opportunities with dozens of professionals who came from every point around the globe.

Special celebrity guests included the Gala Host Ngo Okafor, a model and former two-time heavy-weight champion and Actor Gbenga Akinnagbe who is known for his breakout
role in the acclaimed HBO series “TheWire.” Mr. Akinnagbe will star
in an upcoming Warner Brothers comedy “The Lottery Ticket” and currently is a guest star in the CBS series “The Good Wife.”

AfriMETRO gala honorees included Dr. Chika Onyeani, publisher and Editor-and Chief of Africa Sun- Times; Dr. Bruce Charash, founder and Chair of the Board “Doc to Dock”, a nonprofit that collects medical supplies and services and ships them to African countries; and Immaculee Ilibagiza, a human rights activist, author and survivor of the Rwandan genocide in 1994 who was
unable to be present.

In a brief but emotional address to attendees, Her Excellency Ambassador Joy Ogwu Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Stations emphasized how essential it was for her to be present since AfriMETRO is involved in essential and outreach involving such needs as health, literacy for youth and infrastructure in Africa.

“This is a compass for all of us especially for the youth. …. I want to tell
you that I share your aspirations not only for Nigeria, not only for Africa, but for the world. By contributing to your own community, you are also contributing to everyone’s community.….We believe that you will set the path to the future, grandchildren,” said Ambassador Ogwu who referenced the current tense political
situation in Ivory Coast as the reason she was unable to stay for the full
length of the gala.

Keynote speaker Dr. Emeka Akaezuwa, a software technology expert and creator of the Universal Search Operating Software System that is used throughout the world, is
a founding trustee of the Global Literacy Project. In his remarks, Dr. Ekaezuwa discussed his role in working towards sending 1.9 million books to underserved communities in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, India, St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

This nonprofit works to ship books to Africa, the Caribbean and beyond, working not only to provide underserved community with books, but also in constructing
library spaces, training library staff and providing technological resources to African school children and the community at large.

Gala attendees viewed a short excerpt of the 2008 documentary on the “Doc to Dock” nonprofit, learning about how a rural Ghanaian hospital benefited from $400,000 in donations of medical equipment. As the program showed, once equipment and medical supplies went to a hospital in the Tepa District in Ashanti Region of Ghana, the hospital was able to better serve all patients particularly its’ very youngest:
newborn babies and prematurely born infants. The hospital—and entire region— received their first sonogram as a result of the “Doc to Dock” supplies. The Tepa District also received incubators, baby radio heaters, birthing beds, mattresses,
surgical and obstetric instruments.

Dr. Bruce Charash noted this Ghanaian hospital is one of many throughout Africa that have serious shortages. Shockingly based on his professional observations on average,
one out of five hospital patients in underdeveloped regions sleep on the floor.

“There are no sheets, no linens. There is a shortage of fundamental supplies, conditions are shockingly bad, he noted, fresh from a recent trip earlier this week to the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In accepting a service award from AfriMETRO, Charash noted to the audience “You’ve come from a wide range of African countries… you are familiar with the many rural and
urban hospitals with tremendous needs. But still we want to remind you that these hospitals need you. … I don’t think you should be motivated by guilt but by gratitude of how lucky we are and how much we can do to help others. …. Once again, I thank you as a fellow African.”

Before receiving the award, Dr. Charash, a cardiologist by training, told Amandla that a doctor’s job is never done: In recent weeks and plane trips, every time he has flown individuals have often fallen unconscious
and required medical evaluation and assistance. Indeed the night of Dec. 8th was no exception, moments after AfriMETRO recognized Dr. Charash, he momentarily
left the gala to speak to well-wishers. At the elevator he encountered a sick
youth who was participating in a nearby Hanukkah party on the same
floor who became unconscious and required immediate medical attention. Dr. Charash stayed with the youth until an ambulance came and then returned to the gala.

During the gala, AfriMETRO also publically acknowledged the organization’s
2010 scholarship recipients who included Fatoumata Waggeh, a first-generation Gambian-American who is a sophomore at New York University; Dianne Mbeo a student
at University of Houston and Ihuoma Nwaogwugwu originally from Benin City, Nigeria who is a collegebound high school student in Marietta,

Key AfriMETRO staff were also acknowledged including Elizabeth Omondi, AfriMETRO’s Community Liaison Officer and Nekpen Osuan, AfriMETRO’s Member of the Year.

The event included authentic West African cuisine including Jollof rice, chicken, Designer stew, fried plantains and more provided by Tope Durosinmi, owner of the Mirage African Restaurant in Brooklyn.

AfriMETRO was founded by Ms.Folake K. Ayoola, who is also Chair and President of the Board. She currently works in Washington, D.C. as an attorney-advisor in the Division
of Corporation Finance at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Ms. Ayoola attended Columbia University, School of Law where she obtained her Juris Doctor and Master of Laws degrees in 2004 and 2002, respectively. She is a member of the American Bar Association, the New York Bar Association and president of the Nigerian Lawyers Association. In 2008, she was recognized as the Top 40 Under 40 Nigerian Female Professionals by NiPRO International,Inc. for her academic prowess, professional excellence, community involvement, and philanthropy.

Ms. Ayoola is active in numerous charitable associations and causes including breast cancer prevention and Dress for Success.