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First-Year Students Raise Enough Funds to Build Three Houses and Feed a Family of Four for a Year

March 19, 2008

Category: Academics, Events, Students


Edward CardozaIt was a check for $1,668, but it was enough, Catawba College First-Year students learned, to build three houses in Rwanda and to feed a family of four there for an entire year.  

When Edward Cardoza, Vice-President of Development for the Boston-based non-profit Partners in Health, shared that simple mathematical fact on Tuesday, March 18 in Catawba's Keppel Auditorium, more than a few first-years' eyebrows were raised.  The Beauty and the Geek Dance the first-year class had staged to serve as the fund-raiser for those monies suddenly became a pretty significant event.

Cardoza's visit was part of a First-Year Seminar II, Integrating Liberal and Professional Education, which enabled first-year students to continue the journey they began last summer with Catawba's  Common Summer Reading text, "Mountains Beyond Mountains." Cardoza works for the non-profit organization co-founded by Dr. Paul Farmer, the man featured in Tracy Kidder's book, "Mountains Beyond Mountains."   The theme of that text is how one man's indefatigable energy and calling in life combine to change the lives of those who desperately need help.

Cardoza asked the first-year students gathered to consider what constitutes a neighbor and why is it important to take care of a neighbor. He said Kidder's book, published in 2003, was about an opportunity to take on a very significant question:   "If your neighbor is sick and in need of help ... what is your responsibility?"   The big fight when the book was published, he said, was whether people in Haiti and other countries like it should have access to drugs that would help them live despite their illnesses.

"It is our moral responsibility to take care of our neighbors and be attentive to their needs," Cardoza explained, noting that that was the driving mission of Partners in Health, which began as a help in Haiti and which has now expanded its collaborative operations to Peru, Russia and southern Africa.

"If you are poor, you are much more likely to get sick and much more likely to die of that sickness," he stated, noting that women and children have an even greater risk of dying from sickness.   He said that Partners in Health looks at the total person in the context of their environment and then partners with other agencies to provide food, clean water and housing, in addition to much needed medical treatment and drugs. "You cannot treat just a disease," he said.

"The situation we are facing in the world should concern us because we are human beings who ought to be responsible and care about solving complex problems that cut across a lot of issues.   When you really encounter the world, you have to draw upon the disciplines that we have to take on problems," he continued.

"You can't avert your eyes in the belief that what you are avoiding seeing won't affect you.   You are tied to the globe and the world."

Cardoza noted that much of success that Partners in Health has had has been because of the strategic partnership that have been formed to solve problems.   He also said that involving people from the affected communities in the delivery [of aid] mechanism had helped to "humanize" problems.

"We are failing miserably at being attentive to our neighbor.   Our neighbor is every human being," he said.   "We cannot step over them or discard them or ignore them.   What constitutes being a human being is the ability to love and to love without end and to do something that matters."

He encouraged Catawba's first-year students to donate or raise money to worthy causes, and to join listservs "as a way of touching base and seeing where others are going."   Regardless of what the students choose to do professionally, he said, they should "be of service and of help to social justice."

He concluded his remarks by asking that each of the students become "a crucible of discovery" and "a beacon of hope."


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PhotosPHOTOS: Visit from Partners in Health Representative, Edward Cardoza

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