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Message from the Executive Director

semharFriends, springtime is here and as expected, DAWN is enjoying every minute of it! To usher in the new season, we were busy in April welcoming new members, reaching out to the community, and celebrating each other. 

In this issue, you'll see examples of women leaders from all walks of life, committed to service and their community.  DAWNers came together to help improve a recreation center in the Washington Metropolitan Area, performing hours of service so that local youth would have a safer, cleaner place to go to afterschool. 

DAWNer Solome Lemma shares the story of Fatima Jabril, a Somali woman who started her own organization to fight against environmental degradation in her homeland. Lastly, you'll get to meet Adaeze Okongwu, our DAWNer of the Month, and Eman Ibrahim Bani, our DAWNista of the Month,
representing Nigeria & Houston and Sudan & Virginia respectively.  DAWN is proud to have such a strong group of dynamic sisters, passionate and dedicated to Africa's progress!

Semhar Araia

Executive Director and Founder of DAWN  

DAWN at Servathon 2011
Servathon 2011 

As part of this year's Greater DC Cares Servathon event, DAWNers came together on April 16 to perform volunteering services at the Harrison Recreation Center in  Washington, D.C. Our members cleaned, painted and designed parts of the center - even exploring a bit of their own artistic talents in the process!  



As part of our mission, DAWN is committed to performing community service projects that benefit at-risk youth and local immigrant and minority communities. Harrison Recreational Center is located in the heart of Adams Morgan just behind the historic U Street, DC.  It provides a fun and safe environment for local youth that keeps them out of the streets.  It not only serves as a basketball hang-out and outdoor movie venue, but also provides math and SAT prep courses for high school students. 


Volunteering at the Harrison Recreational Center as part of Greater DC Cares Servathon was a wonderful experience that we shared with over 50 other volunteers. DAWN will continue to serve in our community and we hope you all join us for our next service event. Who knows? Maybe you'll discover your inner Picasso! 


Earth Day, Everyday: A Life of Conservation with Fatima Jibrell
By DAWNer Solome Lemma
Fatima Jibrell
Fatima Jibrell

Born into a nomadic, pastoral family, and motivated by love for the fragile, semi-arid landscape and the pastoral way of life, Fatima Jibrell of Somalia has dedicated her life to the preservation of the natural environment in Somalia.


In 1993, Fatima founded Horn Relief, a non-profit organization, to mobilize local and international resources for protection of the fragile pastoral environment in Somalia. In the late 1990s, Fatima organized and advocated against unrestricted use of charcoal in Puntland.  


Through Fatima's powerful advocacy, the Puntland regional government of northeast Somalia was persuaded to prohibit export of charcoal through the port of Bosasso in 2002. This has reduced charcoal exports by 80 percent.  In 2004, Fatima established Sun Fire Cooking to promote solar alternatives to charcoal cooking. Bender Bayla in Somalia is the first solar cooking village in the world. By 2007, Sun Fire had distributed over 1,000 solar cookers to villages.


I nominated Fatima for the National Geographic Conservation Award, which she received in 2008. When we met then, she told me she had just completed a first-hand assessment of the environmental degradation along the Somali coastline. She walked the coastline-a journey of about 100 miles, I believe-for days for this assessment. She was 60 or so at the time!


In an era when Somalia's public image has been reduced to conflict and piracy, Somalis need and deserve recognition of someone that represents their very best efforts in working for peace and restoring their ravaged natural, social, and political environments.


Fatima Jibrell has shown through her life and work that she represents the best aspects of Somali pastoralist culture, peace building, love for the natural environment, and belief in Islam as a religion of caring and commitment. A true African heroine!


DAWNer of the Month
     Adaeze Okungwu  

AdaezeAdaeze Okongwu is a Nigerian American born and raised in Houston, Texas.  Adaeze's passion to play an active role in policymaking that affects Africa drew her to Washington, DC to study international affairs and political science at the George Washington University.  Since then, Adaeze has accumulated a broad range of experience working on political issues that affect the Diaspora.   


Most recently she has served as a Consultant for the firm of Democratic strategist Donna Brazile.  Adaeze was the Project Director for Brazile & Associates, LLC for two and a half years.  In this capacity, she managed the firm's consulting work for corporate clients and researched policy issues for Ms. Brazile's media appearances and public speaking engagements.  During the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election, Adaeze worked with African Diaspora for Change and served on the Black Youth Vote Advisory Board to increase civic engagement within her community.


Prior to that, for two years, Adaeze worked as a Legal and Development Assistant for the Capital Area Immigrants' Rights (CAIR) Coalition, an organization that provides legal assistance to asylum-seekers and immigrants detained in Virginia jails.  While attending the George Washington University, Adaeze developed skills in mobilizing constituencies and organizing, serving as the Public Relations Director for Students Taking Action Now: Darfur (STAND).  Joining STAND from its infancy, she played a key role in formulating policy to promote conflict resolution and development in Sudan.   


Last year, she completed a Master of Science in Violence, Conflict and Development studies with merit at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London.  Her dissertation, "How the State Survives: A Nigerian Approach to State Formation" examined the effects of violence on state capacity. 



Congratulations Adaeze! We are so proud you are a DAWNer! 

DAWNista of the Month

     Eman Ibrahim Bani   

Eman Bani


Eman is 21-years-old and of Sudanese descent. She is the daughter of a doctor and a medical assistant. She was born and lived in Saudi Arabia for eight years before she relocated to Northern Virginia with her family, due to her parents desire to provide their children with the best education offered.


Currently, Eman attends the University of Virginia in pursuit of B.A. in Archaeology and Biology with a pre-medicine track. In addition, she just received an emergency medical technician (EMT) certification and is in the process of joining the local rescue squad. For the summer, she plans to attend an archaeological field school in Belize and work in a Pharmacology lab at the University of Virginia.


Through volunteering for the rescue squad and other programs, Eman found a true love for helping others and would like to continue that through entering medical school and becoming a physician. Other than medicine, she would also like to pursue a masters degree in bioarchaeology or osteology due to a combination for her interest in the study of prehistoric cultures and biology.


Congratulations Eman! We are so proud you are a DAWNista!

African News

South Africa attends first BRICS summit

South Africa will attend its first BRICS summit as a full member of the grouping of most influential developing nations when President Jacob Zuma sits down with the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India and China at the third BRICS Leaders Meeting in Sanya, a resort in China's southern island province of Hainanh.  Read More 


UN: Resource-rich Africa well placed to transition to "green economy"

Africa is well poised to take advantage of a host of opportunities on the continent for building a 'green economy,' one that generates decent jobs in an environmentally sustainable way. Read More 


Upcoming Events


MAY 16  

What: Ruined, the play    
Time: 5:30PM EST

Where: Arena Stage, Washington DC 

What: Join Friends of the Congo, Arena Stage, and DC Arts and Humanities council for a Mother's Day fundraiser at Arena Stage; with a semi-private reception, the special showing of the play of the 2009 Pulitzer prize for drama, RUINED, followed by a panel discussion about the Women in the Congo.  For more information and tickets go to: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/167649aade.wallace@gmail.com


DAWN's Monthly Inspiration 

"I have It's the little things citizens do. That's what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees. "

 -Wangaari Muta Mathaai, Kenyan Environmental Activist, first African woman to win Nobel Peace Prize.  
In This Issue
Message from the Executive Director
Servathon 2011
Celebrating Earth Day
African News
Upcoming Events
DAWN April Birthdays 

04- Rafi Crockett

13 -Karen Parker

22-Seck Binetou

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Our Mission

The Diaspora African Women's Network is a non-profit organization whose mission is to develop and support talented women and girls of the African diaspora focused on African affairs.

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