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    On April 15, 2012, the West Chester University Honors College and the Honors Student Association (HSA) will host their seventh annual benefit, Aid to South Africa. Aid to South Africa, or ASA, as it is commonly known, will benefit three South African organizations: the H.E.L.P. Ministries soup kitchen, which feeds up to 6,000 people every day; Sparrow Village, which adopts and cares for children with HIV; and Nkosi’s Haven, which provides care and support for AIDS orphans and impoverished mothers and children infected with HIV/AIDS. 

  “We are proud to be supporters for them and their commitment to effecting positive change in their communities,” Honors Student Association President Michael Jendzurski said.

  Jendzurski has been to South Africa. 

 “When describing South Africa, you must note there are two South Africas,” he explained. “The first South Africa is painted with beautiful landscapes, warming skylines, and a harbor in Capetown full of opportunity.  Juxtaposed to this image are informal settlement communities, malnutrition, and impoverished lifestyles.  With houses built from plywood and aluminum scraps, roofed by a single tarp and a couple of bricks, one outhouse for a neighborhood of over 100 residents, and no running water or source of electricity, it becomes truly humbling how both worlds can exist literally across the street from the other.”

   Not only is this a benefit to help the impoverished in South Africa, but it is also a community fair at which students, children and adults are all welcome. The event, which runs from noon until 6 p.m. at the Hollinger Fieldhouse, attracts local families for the free community fair while also raising awareness. Aid to South Africa Executive Director, Lori Brooks, expects this year to be just as big of a success as the previous six years. 

  “Last year, we were able to donate almost $8,500 to the South Africa charities, and we’re projecting an attendance of around 1,000,” Brooks said. “So we’re hoping for an even greater donation this time.”

   Some of the activities to be included this year are carnival games and crafts, food and raffle prizes, and a magic show. Live performances will also be provided, including the WCU Gracenotes, Robots and Racecars, the O-Matics, and the Waffle Stompers, among others. 

  Attendees are also encouraged to consider participating in walking the track or the soccer tournament. Students and adults can form teams to walk the track or come individually in order to fundraise as they do laps. The soccer tournament is five vs. five indoors in the spirit of the recent World Cup hosted by South Africa.  

  “It is our hope that organizations from the campus and the community of all ages will field a team to play, learn about our specific philanthropies, and have a good time amongst a strong sense of community,” Jendzurski said.

  Aid to South Africa also needs volunteers for the day before and the day of the event, students interested in volunteering should contact the ASA team at aidtosouthafrica@wcupa.edu.

   Aid to South Africa is especially important this year, because students from all around WCU are travelling along with the Honors College to volunteer in South Africa this May. Their main goal while in South Africa is particularly to help the poverty-stricken and those with HIV/AIDS. The statistics for both of these things are alarmingly high; according to the ASA website, 66% of the nation’s 18 million children live in poverty, and of the 8,000 people who die every day from AIDS, 1,000 of them are from South Africa.

   Jendzurski highly recommends this trip to the “Rainbow Nation.”

 “The lessons you learn in an international setting far outweigh the insights you gain from a lecture or classroom setting,”Jendzurski said. “You learn so much about yourself and others through this trip; you gain a sense of global citizenship, an inspiration to serve and make a difference, and you learn about yourself as a leader. But, most importantly,” he continued, “You understand the responsibility to share the South African story with others. You become a part of their history and the commitment to another culture becomes personal through a relation called friendship.”

  For more statistics and to find out how you can be a part of the solution, visit their website at http://www.wcupa.edu/honors/aidtosouthafrica.

    Clare Haggerty is a first-year student majoring in English. She can be reached at CH757342@wcupa.edu. 

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