ONE at University of California, Santa Barbara, a campus organization working to end extreme poverty, held an event on Wednesday, Nov. 6, in the Student Resource Building. The event focused on increasing student awareness about energy poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.
“We wanted to create a similar environment as that in third world countries when electricity cuts off basically after sunset,” said Miranda Zora, fourth-year global studies and French double major and co-president of ONE. “We wanted to show people how it would be to have to eat and write in the dark.”
All the curtains of the Multi-Purpose Room were closed and the lights turned off. Students dined on meals made from non-perishable foods, including tuna casserole, rice, and macaroni and cheese. Zora’s co-president, Christy Mota, a fourth-year statistical science major, spoke to students on the issues and handed out promotional materials and petitions.
The event, which attracted approximately 50 students and other members of the community, succeeded in its goals of increasing awareness.
“[The lack of electricity] is only something I’ve heard of before but didn’t know anything specific about,” said third-year economics-accounting major David Phan. “I guess I didn’t really imagine or ever think about how they’d have to eat or the environment they’d have to live in when they’re forced to look towards non-sustainable foods.”
Prospective graduate student at UCSB Ngalula Kela, an immigrant from the Congo, was excited about the event’s potential to bring awareness of poverty in Africa. As she entered the event, Kela asked the organizers about why the room was dark. As the reasons were explained, Kela said, “the darkness we have in our hearts is the worst darkness.” Kela wants to further her education to serve as a voice for her community.
According to ONE’s promotional materials, seven out of 10 Sub-Saharan Africans do not have access to electricity. The lack of electricity has extremely wide implications for the health and well being of people in Africa, including the lack of ability to preserve nutritious foods.
“One of the biggest problems with having no electricity, other than food storage, is healthcare,” said Zora. Thirty percent of health care facilities in Sub-Saharan Africa lack electricity.
ONE, in its third year on the UCSB campus, is currently working on its campaign to electrify Africa. On campus, its main objective is to mobilize students and provide them with the facts they need to become more informed to make a difference, rather than fundraising.
“Knowledge and education are our main goals,” said Zora, “and after that comes our political actions, which are things such as signing petitions, sending letters, and making phone calls to hold political leaders accountable for their promises to help third-world counties and make them aware that we support foreign aid.”
For more information, go to ONE’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ONE.UCSB.