Washington, D.C.: President George W. Bush has signed the H.R.5501, or the Global AIDS Initiative Renewal bill, to greatly increase foreign aid for those in Africa suffering from AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. The initiative affects many of Africa’s children, and the African Children’s Choir™ had the honor of performing at the White House for the bill signing ceremony.
Lifesaving anti-retroviral drugs through the current Act have already been allocated to some 1.7 million people and supported care for nearly 7 million. The House voted to triple the current budget for fighting these diseases, and ten percent of funds will continue to be set aside for orphans and vulnerable children.
During the event, founder Ray Barnett presented President Bush with the Malaika award–the most prestigious form of recognition given by the African Children’s Choir®–in honor of the tremendous support he has shown Africa during his terms in office.
The award is a statuette symbolic of beauty, hardship and hope seen in the faces of many Africans and is bestowed only upon those who have made an exceptional contribution to Africa’s most vulnerable children.
This award became even more symbolic when during the President’s speech prior to signing he stated, “The African Children’s Choir™, which we’ll hear soon — I think you’ll find them to be as angelic as I did.” The children later shared hugs and words of encouragement with the President, Mrs. Bush, and other congressmen.
The children will forever remember this event. At the Choir’s following concert, young Patience, a nine-year old Ugandan, revealed the impact the White House visit had on her by proudly announcing, “When I grow up, I want to be a president”.
For more information on HR 5501, refer to the White House Archives.