Charity’s clothes drive helps Africans

Many people in the United States take for granted the simple things in life such as food, clothes, shoes, and textbooks. There are many countries in Africa that can only wish for these simple things.

According to Debt, AIDS, Trade in Africa (DATA), Africa is the poorest continent on earth. One in three residents do not get enough to eat each day. Only one in three children complete elementary school.

While the average life expectancy is 47 years, and the countries that have been hit the hardest by the AIDS epidemic only average 30. This results in many African children becoming orphans. There is a great need for food, clothing, medical supplies, shoes, and reading materials.

The Association of African Charities (AAC) at NKU wants to help. They are sponsoring a clothes drive on campus right now through March 7. There are yellow bins around campus where students, faculty, and staff can put their clothing donations.

According to Oscar Ooko, a Kenya native and Executive Vice President of the AAC, the clothes drive is going very well so far. “Performance is great; it is a lot better than we expected,” he said.

Lovingson Mtongwiza, President and founder of the AAC, is very pleased with the amount of donations so far. The item they desperately need and have not received so far is shoes. In Africa, many children go to school barefoot every day.

“If we can just put shoes on their feet, we can make a difference in their lives.” said Mtongwiza.

The AAC also receives applications for assistance online. The school chairman of the United Church of Zambia is currently running a community school for children and has recently submitted an application. The school started in 2000 and originally took place inside the church.

In 2001, the construction of three classrooms began, but due to a lack of funding it has yet to be completed. The community is very poor so there are no school fees to help out. Therefore the teachers also work without pay.

The women’s association in the church has donated brown uniforms for the children to wear to school. They would like to be able to complete building the school, pay their teachers, and get resources for the proper teaching methods. The AAC would eventually like to help out by collecting monetary donations, books, etc.

“If all goes well, maybe we can send computers and related hardware someday,” Mtongwiza said.

The AAC consists of around thirty members and is always looking for volunteers to help carry the donations from one place to another.

Organizations such as the Salvation Army and the Red Cross have offered to help as much as possible in transporting donations to Africa. “We are going to use the big organizations to help us out right now,” Ooko said. “But eventually we would like to handle it all ourselves.”

Children’s homes, orphanages, and homes for the elderly are a few of the places that will benefit from these donations.

The elderly, who do not have relatives to take care of them, are put into elderly homes where they need clothing, especially coats. “They are almost like aged orphans,” Mtongwiza said.

The AAC plans to hold more fund raising events during the semester such as a thirty-hour Hunger Campaign in the University Center starting on April 4th at 1:00 p.m. and ending April 5th at 7:00 p.m.

Those who participate will go thirty hours without food.

During this time, there will be a games and movies to keep them busy.

The money raised from donations and sponsors will be used to feed those starving in Africa.

Both Mtongwiza and Ooko would like to thank everyone for all of the support they are receiving from the NKU community.

“It is encouraging that people are coming out to help us,” they said.