Friday, August 31, 2001 Volume 67, Issue 8


AKA Foundation awards UH 

By Ken Fountain
Daily Cougar Staff

The University was presented with an Ambassador Award Thursday from the Aga Khan Foundation USA, a non-governmental
organization that works to reduce poverty and disease in underprivileged countries.

The award was presented at the foundation's corporate leadership luncheon at the Galleria-area Omni Hotel. The luncheon was
held in anticipation of the foundation's Houston Partnership Walk, which will take place at UH on Oct. 14 at 10 a.m.

Lorrie Novosad

UH Vice President for Elwyn C. Lee speaks at the corporate luncheon of the Aga Khan Foundation USA after accepting an Ambassador Award on the University's behalf from the international philanthropic organization.

Iqbal Noor Ali, chief executive officer of AKF USA, gave the audience a synopsis of the 100-year history of the international Aga
Khan Development Network and the philanthropic work it does, primarily in Africa and Asia, but also in Eastern Europe and the

"My second task... is to join with all of you, for all us together to celebrate volunteerism," he said. "That is the ethos, the value that
drives the Aga Khan Development Network."

Ali said the network focuses on a few key issues: health (particularly that of women and children), quality of education, helping
people living in poor rural areas gain the means to become self-sufficient, and the enhancement of civil society organizations.

"The principles that we follow are of self-help," he said. "We believe that every person, man, woman or child, regardless of
circumstances, wants to improve their own standard of living. That they want to live in communities that also share a high standard of
living. That in very many cases, these people are not looking for a handout, they are looking (for), to use a cliché, a hand up.

"But it is not a cliché in the way our programs are organized, and in the experiences we've had. That helps us preserve the dignity of
man, so to speak," he said. "Because people that help themselves, and their families, and their neighbors, will feel better about

Ali said the network takes a "vigorous business approach" to its programs. He said it works as a custodian of the resources it
receives from donors, which in addition to money include ideas, talent and intellect. It also draws upon the resources of the people it
helps, including their involvement, work and knowledge of the places in which they live.

Ali said that the "great tradition of volunteerism is really an American tradition, but also a world tradition."

He said Americans, per capita, volunteer the highest number of hours of any nation in the world. A 1999 survey found that 190
million Americans contribute 20 billion man-hours per year to volunteer efforts.

He said the highest level of growth of volunteers is in the 18-to-24 age group. "The youth in this country are volunteering much more
than ever before."

But, he said, volunteerism is an international phenomenon as well, including in poorer nations such as India, Pakistan and countries
in Africa.

Ali invoked a famous quote: "Service to humanity is the rent we pay for the space we occupy on this earth."

Imitiaz Ladak, vice chairman for AKF USA's national committee, presented the Ambassador Awards. In addition to UH, the recipients
were Sharon S. Bush (wife of President George W. Bush's brother Neil), and Houston television station KTRK Channel 13. Dave
Ward, the station's lead news anchor, served as master of ceremonies at the event.

UH was honored for hosting each of the foundation's Houston Partnership Walks since they began three years ago.

"Its a partnership, obviously, that we value," Ladak said. "(Members of the UH community) have opened not just their campus to us
and to our cause, but they've opened their hearts and their minds. And I know that this year, especially, (UH) has literally moved
mountains, to be able to accommodate us and our walk this year."

UH Vice President for Student Affairs Elwyn C. Lee accepted the award on the University's behalf.

"I want to congratulate the Aga Khan Foundation, both nationally and locally, for its mission," Lee said. "That mission, as has been
so ably stated, is to help find solutions to the problems of poor health, inadequate education and low income around the world. That
mission is really a laudable goal, and is very complementary to a goal of the University of Houston, in fact," he said.

Lee said that when he was appointed in 1991 by then-UH President Marguerite Ross Barnett, she told him there were three
principles that ought to characterize UH: excellence, humaneness and partnership.

"And as I think of that, I think the Aga Khan Foundation could very well exemplify those same principles."

He said that UH President Arthur K. Smith was recently one of the founders of Texas Compact, an organization of state universities,
among whose goals is increasing student volunteerism.

For more information on the foundation, visit its Web site,

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