Two African people in traditional dress holding hands.

Our Africare Roots

C. Payne Lucas and Dr. Joseph C. Kennedy

C. Payne Lucas and Dr. Joseph C. Kennedy were giants who worked tirelessly to support African development through American-African partnership, and through creating opportunity for members of the African Diaspora to excel in international affairs. The Lucas-Kennedy Foundation for African Development follows this model.

Picture of African sunset.

Serving Since 1971

Founded in 1971, Africare was an international development organization. Their focus was on improving the quality of life in Africa. This was during the devastating drought that plunged the African countries in the Sahel into a decades-long battle from which Africa continues to emerge triumphantly. Africare created a model of self-help and self-sufficiency.

Niger flag, country where Africare started.
Picture of C Payne Lucas
Picture of Joseph Kennedy, founder of Africare

C. Payne Lucas

Dr. Joseph C. Kennedy

The Work of C. Payne Lucas and
Joseph C. Kennedy at Africare

Fledgling Africare needed high-level technical and executive assistance. Africare recruited C. Payne Lucas, then director of the Peace Corps Office of Returned Volunteers in Washington; he had known the president of Niger for some years. President Diori sent Oumarou Youssoufou, a diplomat from the Nigerien embassy in Washington, to recruit Lucas to help. Also joining the newly developed Africare was Joseph C. Kennedy, Ph.D., former Peace Corps director in Sierra Leone. C. Payne Lucas became Executive Director of Africare, with Dr. Joseph Kennedy serving as International Executive Director.

Africare team standing by a sign that reads Africare: Improving Lives. Building Futures.

Development Initiatives

What emerged was a model of both short and long-term development initiatives focused in Africa.

These include:

  • Africare would support, in addition to health, all significant types of development and relief programs.
  • Africare would assist Niger and ALL African countries.
  • Africans would drive Africare’s programs and development.
  • Africare would serve as a solid connecting partnership bridge between Africans and Americans.
Young African children pose for a photo.

With its mission and vision set and its purpose defined, Africare launched a massive appeal to aid Africa and its people. Africare sought assistance from the US Government, groups, and concerned individuals from the United States and worldwide. Africare provided food, water, shelter, healthcare, and other humanitarian aid across the African Sahel, which helped save millions of lives and communities.

In the United States, Africare’s reputation was growing at an astonishing rate. With its particular constituency outreach, many said that Africare was “helping Africa help itself.” Africare was visible and prominent in raising the growing reality and potential of Africa. This opened the eyes of millions of Americans, especially African-Americans, to its incredible history and culture.

A doctor runs some tests for a mother and her child in africa.

The Lucas-Kennedy Foundation

A group of former Africare employees began working in March 2021 to preserve, honor, and advance the legacy of Lucas and Kennedy. This collaboration led to the establishment of the Lucas-Kennedy Foundation.

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