In 1931 Albert Schweitzer, the theologian, philosopher, musician, and medical doctor from Lambaréné, Gabon, in West Africa, surveyed his world, one very much like ours, and he wrote at the opening of the epilogue of his autobiography Out of My Life and Thought, “Two observations have cast their shadows over my life. One is the realization that the world is inexplicably mysterious and full of suffering, the other that I have been born in a period of spiritual decline for humankind.” We consider the world into which we have been born, and we see the shadows and sufferings of our day—in Southern Lebanon and Northern Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, Darfur, East Africa, and so many other locales. Schweitzer was no pessimist. Rather, he was an activist, and he advised, “Search and see whether there is not some place where you may invest your humanity.” He found his place, his Lambaréné, and he encouraged everyone—all of us—to find our own Lambaréné,
The recipients of the 2006 Chapman University Albert Schweitzer Award of Excellence, Global Partners for Development, have found their Lambaréné. Global Partners for Development was founded in 1978 as an organization that initially made use of the sport of running to address the acute problems of hunger and poverty in East Africa. It is no wonder that our own university president, Jim Doti, would eventually encounter members of this organization. In time this humanitarian group began to partner with East African villages, and their joint projects now are directed toward the development of clean water resources, child nutrition, medical and health care, primary and vocational education, and women’s economic self-reliance. Their relief work has made a considerable impact upon African countries suffering from poverty and drought, particularly Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda, and as such they exemplify Albert Schweitzer’s dedication to a life of service and his ethic of reverence for life.
Mr. Peter Verbiscar-Brown, the executive director of Global Partners for Development, is here with us today, with colleagues, to accept this award. Friends, we acknowledge your work of humane development in Africa, your partnership with other organizations and people of good will, and your commitment to advancing the health and well-being of our brothers and sisters in Africa. We are pleased and honored to offer you the Albert Schweitzer Award of Excellence for 2006, and we salute your contributions to the eradication of suffering and the advancement of the cause of peace and life.
Dr. Marvin Meyer, Director, Chapman University Albert Schweitzer Institute