The UCSB Pan-African Student Union will collaborate with the Human Rights Board and various Associated Students groups this week to hold events educating the community about the impact of a widespread African famine.
The event series lasts through Sunday and aims to raise $5,000 for Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia — who have collectively suffered over 30,000 deaths and more than 13 million people in need — in response to the continent’s worst drought in 60 years. This week’s remaining events include open mic tonight in the Loma Pelona Center, fasting tomorrow, Reggae Night this Friday at the Hub and outdoor event ‘Peace in the Park’ on Saturday.
The series started with a lecture on Monday at the Multicultural Center discussing foreign aid and assistance to refugees as well as a pizza sale yesterday outside the UCen.
According to first-year social anthropology major and Multicultural Awareness Chair Representative Vanessa Ramos, Monday’s lecture gave students an informative perspective into the crisis and recommendations for specific humanitarian actions.
“I specifically liked the point of discussion in which we elaborated on how this situation needed more than just humanitarian support,” Ramos said. “We have been giving to charity for years and situations like theses never get completely resolved. What [changes are] needed is government reform, better representation and a better education system so that these people independently flourish as a nation with a real job market to sustain a healthy lifestyle.”
Third-year global studies and sociology major Betty Elizabeth Aynalem said the event encourages immediate local efforts.
“There are currently more than 13 million people with lives at risk because of starvation in East Africa,” Aynalem said. “How can we allow a single person to die because they aren’t able to eat when there is more than enough food in the world? It is unacceptable. More than 30,000 children have already perished. This is one of the biggest atrocities of our lifetime. Someone needs to do something.”
According to fourth-year geography major Alex Hammer-Barulich, a Human Rights Board liaison and Model UN Director-General, the week-long schedule provides students with the necessary tools and encouragement for humanitarian work.
“What we really wanted to do was provide an opportunity for people in I.V. to learn about critical issues because a lot of times, the center of activism tends to be on campus,” Hammer-Barulich said. “So we wanted to reach out to people in the place that they live.”
Tonight’s open mic at 9:30 p.m. will permit students to express support through poetry and spoken word. Participants in tomorrow’s event are asked to dress black and fast throughout the day to show support for the region.
Friday’s Reggae Night is free to students and ‘Peace in the Park’ — held this Saturday at Isla Vista’s People’s Park — will educate attendees about general human rights issues.
Ramos said the organizations hope to increase student support for people impacted by the drought as well as other international plights.
“If people truly want to make a difference and stand in solidarity, one’s physical presence is needed to make a true statement,” Ramos said. “So I ask that all students please do their part to the best of their abilities.”