Approximately 3,500 people participated in the Los Angeles Partnership Walk today at the Rose Bowl to show their support for international cooperation and for ending poverty around the world. An estimated $1,000,000 (one million) was raised through the event. Partnership Walk is an initiative of Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A. (AKF USA) and is organized by its network of volunteers in communities across the United States. The Partnership Walk has been held since 1995 in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas, Houston and Los Angeles. The aim of the Walk is to raise public awareness and funds to help communities in some of the poorest areas of Africa and Asia create long-term solutions to poverty.
Partnership Walk is a national event also taking place in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and Houston. While five Walks were originally scheduled to be held simultaneously on September 25, because of Hurricane Rita, the Walks in Dallas and Houston have been postponed and will be rescheduled later this year. Approximately 13,000 people participated in the Walks in Atlanta, Chicago and Los Angeles with over $2.5 million raised. One hundred percent of the funds raised at the Partnership Walk go directly to the projects supported by the Foundation. The cost of organizing the Walk is completely underwritten by AKF USA and in-kind contributors. No funds are used for administrative costs.
High-profile dignitaries participated in the opening ceremonies at the Los Angeles Partnership Walk. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in the keynote address stressed that "today we walk with our hearts to reach out across the world to touch someone else and we say to our leaders that we need to do something about poverty." Also in attendance was Bill Bogaard, Mayor of Pasadena, who acknowledged that "the Partnership Walk is not only a fundraising event, but it is an opportunity to learn about global poverty, to learn about the solutions to that problem and to renew our commitment to ending poverty around the world, starting in our own country." Councilman Bernard Parks from the City of Los Angeles emphasized that "what is unique about the Foundation is that every dime of the money that is raised goes directly to the cause." In addition, Iqbal Noor Ali, Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A. Chief Executive Officer, greeted and thanked Council Generals from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Kenya, Pakistan, and other countries for their support and generosity.
Serving as masters of ceremonies were Beverly White, News Anchor for KNBC-4 and Charlie Tuna, Radio Personality on K-BIG 104.3 FM. Following the Walk and a picnic lunch, there was a program of entertainment celebrating world cultures. The diverse range of musical and dance performances included The Dance House Academy, Buzzin' Bee Entertainment, Francois Dean and the Soul Phenomenal and New Phaze, among many others.
At the Village in Action, participants of all ages had an opportunity to engage in interactive activities and learn how people in developing countries create solutions to overcome the challenges of low income, poor health and limited educational opportunities. Through displays and hands-on demonstrations, the Village in Action showcased the positive results that are achieved through the Foundation's community-based, self-help development programs in Africa and Asia. Volunteers from the Atlanta metropolitan area researched, planned, designed and created the exhibits. Through this process, they gained an understanding of global citizenship.
The theme for Partnership Walk 2005 is "Investing in People." In recognition of 2005 as the United Nations International Year of Microcredit, we are highlighting the vast potential that microcredit has for reducing poverty and vulnerability and empowering women. The Foundation invests in people to help impoverished communities and families seize the opportunity to move toward greater choice and voice in order to improve their lives. By promoting quality education, improving health care and placing tools for economic empowerment into the hands of people, the Foundation helps them build the skills necessary to lead self-sufficient, healthy and dignified lives.
The Foundation works in partnership with other institutions dedicated to international development such as the U.S. Agency for International Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. State Department, the World Bank as well as private foundations and corporations.
With experience in development work in some of the most challenging parts of the world, Aga Khan Foundation U.S.A. fully appreciates how essential it is to offer immediate help to those affected by Hurricane Katrina. In the midst of the tragedy and despair inflicted by the hurricane, the Aga Khan Development Network is engaged in relief efforts through its affiliate, Focus Humanitarian Assistance, the Network's international emergency response agency. Current relief and recovery efforts are underway in Texas and, in particular, in the cities of Houston, Dallas, San Antonio and Austin to help people displaced by Hurricane Katrina through resettlement assistance, volunteer mobilization and the provision of optometric, food and hygiene supplies. The outpouring of generous assistance from so many Americans and citizens around the globe is a testament to the human spirit that connects us together to build a better world for all.