YAI leads the Month of Peace and Activism

Group members published a humanitarian magazine, entitled The Amherst Humanitarian, earlier this month and are sponsoring a poster campaign on campus.

“By the end of the Month of Peace and Activism, we hope to have raised student awareness on the state of the world’s poor, especially about the world’s disadvantaged children,” YAI Director Kimmie Weeks ’05 said. “Small efforts can make huge changes and can really literally save lives.”

The Month of Peace will also feature two speakers: Beatrice Biira, who will speak on Wednesday, April 21, and Malika Sanders, who will speak tonight at 7 p.m. in the Cole Assembly Room.

Biira is a citizen of Uganda, where she was raised in extreme poverty. She was able to attend school in the United States through the support of Heifer Foundation, a global charity dedicated to feeding the hungry and improving conditions in third world countries. The Foundation provided her family with a goat, whose milk and offspring the family sold in order to finance Biira’s education.

Biira has written a children’s book, “Beatrice’s Goat,” and appeared on various television programs, including “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” She is currently a student in the United States, and she plans to return to Uganda to do charity work after she graduates.

Alana Laudone ’06, a YAI member, hopes that Biira’s story will convey the difference a small donation can make. “Beatrice’s story reveals the devastating reality of poverty, and that the smallest contribution toward the purchase of a gift animal can drastically improve the lives of the less fortunate all over the world,” said Laudone.

Sanders is a recipient of the 2002 Reebok Human Rights Award. She has been an active participant in civil rights protests in Selma, Ala.

When she was 16, she led a protest against “racial tracking,” the placement of students in classes of the public schools in her city according to race rather than academic ability. She spent a year disseminating information and protesting in Selma, leading to a sit-in which closed the school for five days. “Selma’s city leaders finally relented. They changed their policy to include more objective assessments and to provide better opportunities for black students,” said Laudone.

Sanders also led a successful campaign in 2000 to oust Joe Smitherman, the allegedly racist mayor of Selma.

In addition to the speakers, YAI plans to use publications, movies and a poster campaign to spread the message. YAI members hope this will raise awareness about its important causes.

YAI members also distributed copies of The Amherst Humanitarian in the Valentine atrium and the Campus Center mailroom earlier this month. “Publication of the The Amherst Humanitarian [will include] articles about global and local humanitarian issues and community work,” said Laudone. This will be the only issue of The Amherst Humantiarian this semester, though the publication may continue in the future.

YAI plans to show movies related to the theme of the Month. There will be film screenings of UNICEF movies about global humanitarian issues, Monday, April 19 and Thursday, April 22 at 7 p.m. in Fayerweather 115.

Additionally, The Haitian Awareness Project is organizing a weekend of events on April 16-18, intended to raise funds for children’s hospitals in Haiti. “[The fundraiser] is to help the children in Haiti but also to raise awareness of the 30,000 [people] who die everyday around the world from treatable causes such as malaria, hunger and lack of proper sanitation,” said Laudone.