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As part of its global service mission, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority has sponsored a school in rural Swazi Zulu Land near Durbin in South Africa as a way of providing a vitally-needed education to the children in this rural town. The project is a collaborative effort with the International Foundation for Education and Self Help (IFESH), which is headed by the Rev. Leon Sullivan.

The school, known as the African Ivy AKAdemy sponsored by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, was recently dedicated in a formal ceremony. Alpha Kappa Alpha National President Norma Solomon White, former AKA National President Bernice Sumlin, Carolyn House Stewart, Esq., national program chairman for AKA and Howard Sullivan of IFESH, who is an engineer and son of the Rev. Leon Sullivan, joined a number of other dignitaries at the official dedication.

The series of events that led to Alpha Kappa Alpha's involvement in this international mission began when former AKA National President Bernice Sumlin learned of the project and advised National President Norma White that it was an initiaitive that paralleled the sorority's global and educational mission. When National President White was advised that there were hundreds of children who wanted an education but had no facility in which to learn she contacted members. With the support of the 150,000 strong Alpha Kappa Alpha membership, in August 1999, Ms. Sumlin set up a meeting with National President White, Carolyn House Stewart, Esq, Dr. Sullivan and Dr. C.T. Wright at the IFESH offices in Arizona to request approval for AKA to sponsor a school. On the strength of its combined record of achievement and service, IFESH officials welcomed AKA's sponsorship.

Under the sponsorship agreement, AKA is providing the funding and IFESH is providing the teacher. The school will also serve as a resource center for women in the evenings, a featured of the school that appealed to Alpha Kappa Alpha. The school will be also wired for computers. AKA plans to donate computers for the school as part of its commitment.

Alpha Kappa Alpha had already established strong ties with South Africa as chapters had been sending shoe boxes full of school supplies for three years that were designated for school children in African countries. The shoe box donation idea was also conceived by Bernice Sumlin. In keeping with that custom, members of the tour of South Africa have been asked to bring a shoe box with a solar calculator, pencils, rulers, paper and other school supplies as tangible gifts to the new school.

At the dedication, explained why Alpha Kappa Alpha became involved in this initiative, National President White said, "Education is the passport to opportunity. As part of Alpha Kappa Alpha's overall mission, the sorority is committed to any thrust designed to better the plight of those in need. Hopefully, these schools will represent the key that will enable these youngsters to open the door and realize their future aspirations, hopes and dreams."

She explained that Alpha Kappa Alpha's decision to proceed with this effort was strengthened by the participation of the Rev. Leon Sullivan.

"Reverend Leon Sullivan has a long tradition of effective positive change in every endeavor in which he has participated. IFRESH is inspired by his energy so we know it is rooted in caring and commitment. We know that the power of these two organizations will make a significant difference in the lives of these young children. Because of our collaborative efforts, we expect to hear about many success stories coming out of this village in the future."

From the AKA National Website