SKEF lunch honors those working hard for students


SKEF lunch honors those working hard for students

8:34 p.m. PDT September 8, 2015

Ubuntu is a South African philosophy loosely translated to mean “I am because we are.” This philosophy showing the entanglement of humanity was used in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission created by Archbishop Desmond Tutu after the institutional South African apartheid ended in the 1990s.

This same philosophy was brought up on Tuesday, Sept. 8 at the Salem Convention Center by Lou Radja, the keynote speaker for the Salem-Keizer Education Foundation annual back-to-school lunch.

“In Africa we say, ‘If you want to go fast, you go alone. If you want to go far, you go together,’ ” said Radja, a motivational speaker and social entrepreneur from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The luncheon event was held to honor individuals, nonprofits and other businesses and organizations that have worked to improve education in the Salem-Keizer area.

Among those recognized were seven Awesome Award recipients. The recipients were Lara Tiffin, principal of South Salem High School; Terry Hancock of Hancock Real estate; the Grove, Mueller and Swank, P.C. public accountants and consultants firm; the Statesman Journal; Michelle Ratcliffe of Truitt Family Foods; Oregon College Savings Plan; and Oregon ASK.

Radja had one key message for the hundreds of luncheon attendees – keep working for the success of the world’s children.

“The need is always greater than our efforts,” Radja said.

Radja said educators, organizers, sponsors and volunteers alike will always be needed. He gave the example of the Congo. In the central-African country, there are nearly 70 million people, 10 million of whom are children without access to education due to lack of money.

“In ten, twenty, thirty years, when the country is in their hands, what kind of Congo will there be? What kind of Africa? What kind of world?” he asked.

Radja stressed that the progress people make here in Salem is directly tied to the progress and success of others around the world, and vice versa. He encouraged everyone to recognize the unrealized potential around them.

“We know that education is at the heart of progress,” he said. “You being here shows all we have done, but we still have more to do.”, (503) 399-6745, or follow on Twitter @Nataliempate


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Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is the education reporter for the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. Natalie has previously worked for organizations and publications such as Direct Relief International, Waging Non-Violence, and Amnesty International USA. She has had stories published with USA Today, Associated Press and Ozy, among others. Natalie earned her B.A. in Politics and French and Francophone Studies (FFS) from Willamette University. During her studies, she wrote a Politics thesis titled, "No One is Dying: How and Why the U.S. Federal Government Avoids Executing Prisoners on Federal Death Row" and an FFS thesis, in French, on cannibalism in the 16th and 17th centuries. Natalie is a journalist, performer, traveler, fiction writer and more. She is working to publish her dystopian novella, "Choice," which follows a man during 24 hours in solitary confinement for allegedly committing murder. For more information on Natalie visit, like her on Facebook at, or follow Natalie on Twitter (@Nataliempate) or Tumblr (Nataliempate blog "In the Shoes of a Journalist"). Her reporting with the Statesman Journal can also be found at

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