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Africas troubles come into focus for Beaverton students

Club host fundraisers and a fast to support sister school in Kenya

The plight of Africa was on the minds of Beaverton High School students last week as the school's Global Awareness to Action Club hosted a variety of events to address problems affecting that continent.

During an 'Africa in Focus' week the club sought to raise money for it's sister school in Kibwezi, Kenya.

Julie Sullivan, a senior, said the impetus for the events began last fall after several students attended the African Youth Forum held at Portland State University.

On April 8, the club hosted an 'Eat for Africa' day where students could enjoy a lunch of African cuisine including rice, spicy chicken and vegetables in a curry sauce.

'We charged $10 a plate,' said Julie Sullivan, a club member, noting that at least 150 people attended the lunch.

On hand for the event was the Matsiko Children's Choir, which featured young singers, dancers and musicians from Uganda.

'It was just awesome,' said Sullivan.

Isabelle Director, also a member of the Global Awareness to Action Club, said the African dinner night included a video on what was being done to help the students in Kibwezi.

In the past, Beaverton High School students have raised enough money to build a well that benefits the 250 students who attend BHS's sister school.

'Some of the students are AIDS orphans,' said Director.

The day after the African lunch, many students participated in 'Fast for Africa' where students were asked to give up food for a specified period of time, either for 24 hours, a lunch period or simply to skip a coffee break with a request that money normally spent on such things go to feed children in Kenya.

Director said the purpose of the fast was two-fold: to make students realize that many children throughout the world go without food each day and to raise money to benefit students in Kibwezi.

Sophomore Travis Meuwissen said he's not sure of the number of students who planned to fast but it was well over 100. Students broke their fast on Wednesday night with a party at the Allen Boulevard Round Table Pizza.

'And 20 percent of all the money (Round Table brought in from 5 to 10 p.m.) goes to charity,' he said.

Both Meuwissen and Sullivan participated in the 24-hour fast, Director has been involved in similar fasts in the past.

'It's harder than you think,' she said.

Another fund raiser is the annual Powder Tuff tournament featuring boys playing volleyball, coached by girls from the varsity volleyball team. The $10 admission goes to the fund-raising efforts.

Also on Wednesday, a representative from the Nomad Foundation shot video of BHS students that will be shared with students in Kibwezi.

Meanwhile, Director said the club is working on fostering a greater connection between Beaverton students and the students in Kibwezi.

'We're going to try to get a pen pal system going,' she said.

Also included in the weeklong events was Camp Darfur, a display that featured tents, photos and facts involving what's happening in Darfur. The highlight was an appearance by Chann Noun, a survivor of the Cambodian genocide under the Khmer Rouge.

'That was really touching, hearing him speak,' said Sullivan.

Among topics discussed by Noun was the hopelessness of starvation.

Director said he explained that those who are starving are put 'on the level where you think only of animal instincts.'

Director said that in recent years, the goal has been to raise at least $1,000 for the BHS sister school.

'Every year our fundraising has grown,' said Director. 'Our goal is $1,500; $2,000 would be great.'

As of Tuesday, that amount was becoming a reality with $1,950 collected, not counting the money from Round Table.