Somewhere in South Africa there is a 19-year-old girl. She is close in age to many West Chester University students, but she is not enjoying the freedom of college life, nor is she working towards a future career goal. This 19-year-old girl is the caregiver for her six-person family. Some of her family members are younger and some are older, and one has tuberculosis. Their house has no water and no electricity. The girl admits that it is not fit for human beings.
West Chester University sophomore, Stacey Snyder, who met this young woman in South Africa last summer said that even though this girl is lacking material possessions and is struggling to take care of her family, she has “the knowledge of what is real in life: love and family.”
Snyder shared her encounter with this South African girl at the Aid to South Africa kick-off event that was held on Monday evening, Feb. 9 at 7:30 p.m. in Sykes ballroom.
Snyder, along with other West Chester University Honors students, is helping to plan and organize their fourth annual “Aid to South Africa” event to raise money for two South African charities. This project is being led by senior director Ann Horner, and junior assistant director Alyssa Conaway, with the help of a team of honors students.
During the kick-off, a video was shown that contained pictures from the Honors College’s trip to South Africa four years ago. The video also featured honors students giving reflections of their experience. Between pictures and video clips, the video shared facts about the truth of what is happening in South Africa.
About 1.2 million South Africans live on less than $2 each day, and about that same number of children are orphaned because of AIDS.
The Honors College will be holding their Aid to South Africa event on Sat. April 4 from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. West Chester students and community members can form teams, raise money, and walk the track in Hollinger Field House the day of the event. Last year, about 30 on-campus and off-campus teams participated and the honors college hopes to exceed that this year.
In addition to walking, there are a lot of other activities to engage in at the event. Musicians, magicians and moon bounces provide participants with entertainment. There are also awareness opportunities at the event, such as replica South African shack built by WCU’s Habitat for Humanity.
Two causes benefit from the funds raised by the Aid to South Africa event. These causes are the H.E.L.P. Ministries Soup Kitchen and Sparrow Village. The soup kitchen, established in Dec. 1994 by the Rev. Cecil Begbie, prepares nearly 6,000 bowls of soup, five days a week, in Begbie’s garage. Begbie and his team deliver the soup to approximately 1,000 unemployed adults and eight primary schools of about 700 students each. Each mug of soup is made of soup-mix, beans, flour, rice, oats and a variety of vegetables. For many children, this is the only meal they will receive that day.
The second agency benefiting from the event is Sparrow Village. Founded in Feb. 1992, Sparrow Village adopts HIV-positive children (many of whom are orphans) and provides them with a lifestyle that they would not have had otherwise. Currently serving 238 children and 94 adults, Sparrow Village provides its residents with running water, daily meals and a pharmacy. Other amenities include after-school tutoring, athletic recreations and arts and crafts centers.
Nearly 80 percent of the children at Sparrow Village contracted HIV upon birth and 20 percent from abuse. Many children at the village will die within four years. Nonetheless, between hospice care, outpatients and community outreach, Sparrow Village has served over 10,000 South Africans.
WCU senior Dan Moran went to South Africa twice. He said he had to go back the second time to see how WCU was making a difference. While acknowledging that West Chester students and community members were not the only ones helping people in South Africa, he said he saw a difference in Sparrow Village and that it had expanded. For Moran, this really helped to bring hope to the cause.
Any West Chester student interested in participating in the Aid to South Africa event or learning more about the cause can visit http://www.wcupa.edu/honors/aidtosouthafrica/ for more information.
Anna Moronski is a third-year student majoring in Communications and minoring in Journalism. She can be reached at AM626969@wcupa.edu.