Wednesday, September 21, 2011

UNM Students Fasting for Horn of Africa

This morning a group of students at the University of New Mexico, and perhaps some faculty and staff, began a fast in one of the rooms of the Student Union Building to raise awareness (and funds) about the dire situation in the Horn of Africa. 

The United Nations warns that the famine in the region could kill 750,000 people, primarily Somali citizens in the coming months, and tens of thousands have already died.  Read Glimpses of the Next Great Famine  by columnist Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times.

The fast at UNM, organized by the Muslim Student Association (MSM), has both the purpose of raising awareness and money.  Participants will follow the traditional practice during holy month of Ramadan, abstaining from food and drink (including water) from sunrise to sunset.  “The day consists of constant remembrance of God, contemplation of life’s true meaning, and overcoming physical pain in order to taste spiritual fulfillment,”  Mostafa Amini, president of the MSA, told The Daily Lobo student newspaper.

And a private donor has pledged to donate a specified amount of money for each person who participates.  This is the second consecutive year in which the MSA has organized a fast at UNM.  Last year, the fast raised $1,200 for flood relief in Pakistan.

“It allows the UNM community to feel and not only sympathize, but rather empathize with our fellow humans that are experiencing poverty, famine and other sub-human conditions,”  Amini said.

Many Muslim student groups have joined with other organizations around the country to sponsor a similar fast on this Wednesday, Sept. 21.  “This fundraiser is a human issue, meaning we want people of all different faiths, cultural backgrounds, different political ideologies, etc. to come help and support the people of the eastern horn of Africa,” she said. “As fellow humans we should bear the responsibility in making sure that we all help each other out, and this fundraiser is just another opportunity for doing so,” MSA secretary Danya Mustafa said in an interview with The Daily Lobo.

As is the custom during Ramadan, participants will end the day with a meal. 

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