As she began her fast on Friday afternoon, Adaora Mbelu, a second-year economics major at NKU, was a long way from her Nigerian home. Yet she and more than 20 other participants abstained from eating for 30 hours last weekend in an effort to raise funds for orphaned children living thousands of miles away.
The Hunger Campaign fundraiser, sponsored by the Association for African Charities (AAC) organization at NKU, was also an act of solidarity for underprivileged African children.
“The reason we are doing it is to experience how it feels to go hungry,” said Selina Oladapo, a second year nursing student from Ghana, West Africa and president of the AAC. “Children especially get hungry very quickly, so if we go hungry for 30 hours, then maybe we can have empathy for how they feel,” she said.
Back at the University Center, donations slowly began trickling in from passers-by as the sounds of classical and African music emanated from the AAC Hunger Campaign booth in the University Center lobby.
Voted the most outstanding program at NKU’s student organization awards in 2004, this year’s campaign is donating to three specific orphanages in Ghana and Ethiopia. Oladapo said that the orphanages are in desperate need of food and medical supplies.
Though the fasting had begun hours earlier, the event officially kicked off at 6 p.m. Friday as Hunger Campaign participants listened to keynote speeches by Oladapo and NKU sociology professor Dr. Barbara Arrighi. The speeches were followed by a series of interactive games, dancing and movies.
“It went very well,” said Corey Catton, vice president of public relations for the AAC. “We were a tightly knit group, and we had a lot of fun. You become friends with so many people that you don’t notice the hunger as much,” he added.
In addition to the satisfaction of helping needy children, the event was part of a broader focus for some participants. “For me, I’ve always wanted to help promote world peace,” said Mbelu, who wants to use her economics degree to find work at the United Nations.
Oladapo added that the fundraiser is sparking ideas of establishing an African sister school, where NKU students could foster civic engagement on an international level.
For now, participants in the 2005 Hunger Campaign can be sure that their efforts have produced tangible benefits for children in need.
“It gives me a connection with people who are hungry,” said Oladapo. “I feel like I made a difference, that I have done something good.
“It’s a good feeling,” she said.
The sponsored orphanages are the Onyaasi Orphanage in Cape Coast, Ghana, the Abebech Gobena Orphanage and School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (http://www.telecom.net.et/~agos/), and the Kinbutdu Trust Orphanage in Gondar, Ethiopia. The AAC is still collecting donations in order to purchase food, medicine and other supplies for these orphanages. To contribute, please contact Selina Oladapo at email@example.com.