This week, students and faculty were confronted face to face with the global poverty crisis – literally.
Beginning Tuesday, the Davis chapter of Nourish International held informative exhibits at various locations around campus as part of their Awareness Week for global issues such as malaria, hunger and economic inequality. The week culminates tonight with A Call To Action, an evening of food, music and guest speakers at the International House.
Nourish International is a club dedicated to raising money to help developing nations create sustainable economic projects that will lift them out of poverty.
“The way [the week] is structured, I want it to turn heads and make people take a look at one of the signs during the week and become more aware,” said Tyler Rattray, a senior political science and history double major and Nourish awareness director. “Then with the event and the speaker, we hope that once everyone is aware of it then they can find their small part to help out in the world.”
On Tuesday, Nourish set up three malaria nets in the Wellman Hall courtyard. Hanging next to each net was a sign presenting a fact about malaria and why the nets are so important. For example, one child dies from malaria every 30 seconds.
Many people did a double-take while passing by Wellman and stopped to talk to the Nourish members standing by to offer additional information.
“I like the enthusiasm of the people here,” said Mary Jane O’Neill, UC Integrated Pest Management employee. “It’s great that they’re willing to put in their time to help others.”
On Wednesday, Nourish held their bi-monthly Hunger Lunch behind the Silo. For $4, patrons received all-you-can-eat rice, beans and cornbread. In honor of Awareness Week, there was an additional booth with information about food security and nutrition.
Beginning at 5 p.m. Wednesday, 10 Nourish members lived outside in a tent on $2 each for 24 hours.
“It’s sort of a symbolic gesture, because right now there’s over 2.5 million people that live on under $2 a day, which is what the United Nations says is the poverty line,” Rattray said.
Today, the club is holding their final exhibit in the Wellman courtyard. In addition to explaining their experiences living on $2 for a day, club members set up 15 signs, each with a different fact about global poverty.
“A Call To Action” begins tonight at 5 p.m. at the International House, located at 10 College Park with tickets at $8 at the door. The evening promises to be an exciting, educational night of food, music performed by Davis students and a talk about world economic development. There will also be a silent auction featuring items and coupons from Davis businesses and work by local artists.
Money raised will go toward Nourish’s summer project of working with the Ecuadorian non-profit organization Triple Salto to build organic greenhouses for Quito residents.
“They receive their first greenhouse for free, and the money we raised is used to buy the tools and plants and supplies,” said Marie Casabonne, a senior human development and Spanish double major and international projects co-director. “The idea is they can build more greenhouses, expand their garden and turn what we give them into a business to sustain their families.”
Casabonne went to Ecuador last year with six other Nourish members from UC Davis and Stanford. She helped build greenhouses at a daycare, high school, orphanage and neighborhood in Ecuador.
“I think we were all really nervous at first because we thought, this group of American college students with these big ideas going down there – we weren’t sure how the people would accept us,” Casabonne said. “But we found that everyone was really appreciative of the work that we’d done and just really inspired by our work ethic.”
Rattray said that he hopes the awareness week and A Call To Action event becomes a yearly event that people look forward to and learn from.
“You don’t need to be in international development and you don’t need to donate a crap-load of money every year,” Rattray said. “We can all do our part and if we all help out a little bit then the world can become a better place.”
ERIN MIGDOL can be reached at email@example.com.