|by Steve Charles • February 21, 2012|
This Saturday at 5 p.m., a coalition of Crawfordsville residents and Wabash College students, faculty, and staff will come together on the Wabash campus for an evening of food, world music, presentations, and fun for all ages to raise funds and hope for girls and young women in Africa.
The College’s Wamidan Adult and Children’s Ensembles will perform at the soup dinner and celebration, the kickoff event for an initiative called Harambee, which in the Swahili language means “let’s pull together.” The effort combines the recent experiences of Wabash students in Kenya with the work of Ugandan native Sister Stella Santana to fund schooling for girls in isolated villages of both countries.
The event in the College’s Allen Athletics Center will include a musical workshop for children and a silent auction featuring African crafts, as well as goods and services donated by local businesses and individuals. It is the largest fundraising effort to date for Shifting Ideas Through Education for African Women (SITEAW), the non-profit organization Sister Santana founded in 2004 to provide an education to African girls and young women attempting to escape oppressive traditions in their tribes, particularly the ritual known as female circumcision or female genital cutting (FGC).
Since 2006, SITEAW has provided education and job training for 24 girls who asked for help to avoid the life-threatening ritual, which is still practiced on thousands of women despite having been banned in many countries. The urgency of the work was brought home most recently when one of the girls SITEAW had hoped to save was forced to undergo the ritual and died of severe hemorrhaging.
“This Saturday, I am hoping for support to give girls in these villages a voice and a second chance, and to stop these inhuman practices,” said Sister Santana, known in Crawfordsville for her performances with Wamidan and as founder of the Wamidan Children’s Ensemble. “This Saturday many communities can come together to solve the problem, to make a difference in the lives of these girls.”
Dr. Michael Brown, director of the Malcolm X Institute of Black Studies, will welcome guests to the event beginning at 5 p.m. in the classrooms of the Allen Athletics Center. Wabash students DeVan Taylor and Jose Herrera will be among those telling of their experiences in Kenya, and Sister Santana will talk about the work of SITEAW.
The public, of all ages, is invited.