BOSTON - Citizens Energy President Joseph P. Kennedy II joined Cardinal Dom Alexandre do Nascimento of Angola at a press conference today to announce the shipment of books and computers to the newly opened Catholic University of Angola.
Cardinal do Nascimento and Kennedy also solicited support for a continuing book and computer drive to equip the war-ravaged nation’s first private institution of higher education, which opened its doors in February to its first class of 320 students.
“Education will be the foundation of a new Angola, and we’re proud to help bring the gift of learning to those seeking to rebuild their country,” said Kennedy, flanked by donated books and computers at Citizens Energy.
The Angola Educational Assistance Fund, established by Citizens Energy in 1996, has sent over 40,000 books and 80 computers to the Catholic University, with the latest shipment scheduled to arrive in July. The Fund is seeking public support of the book and computer drive in order to send further shipments before the inauguration of the university in October.
“The goal of the Catholic University is to education young people who will help pave the way to a better future for Angola,” said Cardinal do Nascimento, who serves as chairman of the university. “These young people will one day take charge of their responsibilities to form new generations of students and help the country re-discover the values of education that a terrible prolonged war has obscured.”
Angola has been locked in civil conflict for more than two decades. Combat between government troops and rebel forces has left the landscape strewn with deadly landmines and destroyed hospitals, homes and schools throughout the country.
Citizens Energy Corporation began its support of the Catholic University in 1992, when former Citizens Energy Chairman Michael Kennedy traveled to Angola as a United Nations election observer and met the Cardinal, who asked Kennedy’s assistance in establishing the school.
The Angola Educational Assistance Fund has been working with two major partners to send books and computers to the Catholic University.
Dr. Wayne Dudley, a Salem State professor and founder of Collaborative Education with South Africa, has collected over 2.8 million books for the children of South Africa, and has gathered over 30,000 books for Angola.
Stephen Farrell, president of the East West Education Development Foundation, gives technology a second life by sending hardware and software donated by computer firms and corporations to developing nations in Africa and Latin America. East West has helped refurbish computers donated to the Catholic University.
“I believe every student should have a book,” said Dudley. “Books allow us to transcend differences and reach new levels of understanding. Books are inspirational to me and I’m sure they’ll be inspirational to the students of Angola.”
“Access to information is critical,” said Farrell. “We all need to speak the language of technology and we’re proud to help the students of the Catholic University get on the information superhighway.”
“Angola has tremendous human and natural resources but needs help to develop its potential,” said Kennedy. “The long civil conflict must end, but in the meantime there is much we can do to bring hope to the people who have suffered for so long.”
Those interested in donating books, computers, and technical assistance, or supporting the equipment drive with financial donations, can reach the Angola Education Fund at (617) 961-0433.