Students at UNCG, N.C. A&T State University and other local colleges will kick off the I CAN Campaign to raise money for the Woza Moya Children’s Center at noon-2 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26, in EUC Auditorium. The film “Angels in the Dust” will be screened at the event.
Since opening its doors in October, the Woza Moya Children’s Center has provided early childhood education, play therapy and primary school scholarships in South Africa’s Ufafa Valley. Sharon Dempsey, a native of South Africa and a graduate student in the UNCG and N.C. A&T Joint Master of Social Work (JMSW) program, is leading the campaign.
Attendees will receive cans and spend the following week filling them with quarters. Each can holds about $150 in quarters, enough to pay for a year’s worth of school, books and clothing for a child at Woza Moya. The need is great: HIV/AIDS is believed to have orphaned a million children in South Africa.
“When I graduate in May, I want to leave behind a UNCG tradition and model to inspire change for the world’s children,” Dempsey says. “My goal is to raise awareness, but also establish an enduring initiative on campus through which future UNCG students can create a lasting impact in a particular community in need in South Africa.”
Sponsors of the effort include the North Carolina-based nonprofit Mothering Across Continents, the JMSW program, the UNCG Department of Social Work in the School of Human Environmental Sciences, the UNCG Office of Leadership and Service-Learning and the National Association of Social Workers Student Organization.
The UNCG International Program Center provided a grant through the Kohler Fund. Representatives from Triad Health Project will offer free HIV testing at the event and will lead a Q&A session at the end of the event about HIV/AIDS in the Triad.
The Jan. 26 event will feature a showing and discussion of “Angels in the Dust” It is an award-winning documentary by director Louise Hogarth. The film profiles South African Marion Cloete, who left a comfortable life to establish and manage a sanctuary that houses, feeds and helps educate more than 500 orphaned and vulnerable children.
Patricia Shafer, co-founder of Mothering Across Continents, will introduce the film. Mothering Across Continents – http://www.motheringacrosscontinents.org/ – helped raise the money to open the Woza Moya Children’s Center and supports other projects that benefit orphans and other vulnerable children in Rwanda and the Southern Sudan.
In addition to raising money, participants in the campaign are being asked to write a note to the children of Woza Moya, so they know that someone they have never met cares about them. Dempsey hopes to arrange a Skype session between the children at Woza Moya and the students after donations are collected, so students can see what they have achieved.
Dempsey graduated cum laude from UNCG with a bachelor’s in psychology. She is in her final year in the JMSW program and interns at Guilford Child Health Clinic in Greensboro and at Penn Griffin School for the Arts in High Point, where she works with adolescents. She also is the graduate student representative on the board of the North Carolina chapter of the National Association of Social Workers.