Last week UTMSU held events to fundraise for the East Africa Drought, which UNICEF has deemed “the most severe humanitarian emergency in the world”.
In Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Uganda, about 10 million people, including children, have been severely affected by the drought and refugee crisis.
On Monday, a fundraiser dinner and event night was held in the Blind Duck Pub for $10 per ticket. Other fundraising activities included a breakfast held in the Student Centre, a bake sale, a lemonade stand, and a screening of Thor.
“It’s important that we do whatever we can to help out with this cause. It’s unfortunate and upsetting that the international community hasn’t taken a stronger stance on the issue. Millions of people could potentially die as a result of this drought, and yet this story rarely, if ever, makes the front page of the news,” says Ruba El-Kadri, VP Equity of UTMSU. “I hope that students at our university will learn about what’s going on in east Africa and will help out in whatever way they can, even if it’s just a small donation.”
“Volunteering with UTMSU and UTM Muslim Students’ Association has helped us raise awareness among students on the dire situation in that area. The current crisis in East Africa is affecting 10 million people in more than three countries,” said Saleha Faruque, a UTM MSA volunteer. “We, the students and staff, feel inclined to utilize the opportunities at UTM’s community on campus to raise funds, and help provide relief however possible. We’ve had a positive donor turnout and look forward to continue collecting funds beginning this September.”
UTMSU also hosted a fundraising dinner and “spoken word night” on September 12 from 6 to 9 p.m. Over 150 students attended and over $1,000 was raised for the cause.
Somalia has been affected the worst by the drought, which has forced thousands of people to flee to Ethiopia and Kenya. Malnutrition rates in Somalia are the highest in the world, and the relentless conflict and drought have left millions in need of emergency humanitarian aid. There are stories of parents forced to decide which child to leave behind so that they could make sure the fittest would be able to make it to the refugee camp. Children who do survive the journey to refugee camps often arrive with emotional trauma from violence, rape, and hunger.
“We’re hoping to host as many events as possible before September 16 because the Canadian government will be matching donations dollar for dollar up until that date,” continues El-Kadri. “So far, students have collected more than $4,000 for this cause at UTM, and I really appreciate all of the support that the students have given to this cause.”