The old SFU versus UBC rivalry is back in full force this month as UBC’s own African Awareness Initiative (AAI) competes with SFU’s African Students Association (ASA) in a drive to raise funds for Grace Rwanda.
A non-profit organization based in Canada, Grace Rwanda aims to provide educational support for the youth of Rwanda by providing literacy materials and raising awareness about Rwanda in North America.
“Grace Rwanda stands for improving literacy and education to broaden the opportunities for the children in Rwanda. As Africans doing just that here at UBC, it's really a mirror of our lives, so it's something we can relate to,” said UBC AAI's VP Finance Kome Eto, who aided in coordinating with Grace Rwanda to come up with an innovative way to raise funds to accomplish the organization's mission. He also stressed that this was an opportunity to show the Rwanda of today rather than the country's infamous recent history.
With SFU and UBC, AAI saw an opportunity to channel students’ energy towards a good cause, so they reached out to SFU’s ASA to partner with them in their fundraising efforts.
The AAI already had a good relationship with SFU's ASA, "they were more than glad to join hands with us on this project and hopefully we can do a good thing for the children of Rwanda. Hopefully AAI can donate more than ASA so that we can have the bragging rights,” said Eto.
Throughout the month of February, students will have the opportunity to donate to their favorite team online or directly to AAI or ASA.
People can donate online, through the Grace Rwanda website which is linked on the Facebook page, or in person. There will be booths at the SUB and collections at the member's meeting at the end of the month. This is for everyone at UBC not just for Africans, said Eto.
All the funds raised during the competition will go directly to support literacy programs run by Grace Rwanda, including the purchase of books and e-readers for the organization’s youth center community library.
According to Eto, any donations to support Grace Rwanda’s mission can help to effect significant change in the educational hopes of Rwanda’s youth. “The Giving Competition is important so that students know that they can give back, even without a full time-job. Having graduated, you know that you can still make a difference,” said Eto.
In addition to generating greater awareness about Rwanda, the Giving Competition offers the platform for all students at UBC and SFU to donate funds to help create these communities, by targeting the most crucial area for the people of Rwanda to prosper socially and economically: education.
“Our club actually came about because there isn’t enough talk about Africa at UBC. We believe that if the campus can see that there are students here who have close ties with Africa. They will see that people in Africa are trying to make a difference for themselves,” said Eto.