Fashion show to help build school

By Blanca Morales


On Friday, Nov. 19, UIW STAND held a “Waka for Uganda” fashion show at Mink Ultra nightclub to help build a school in Mede, Uganda.

The show began with a performance of African-inspired dancing called Zumba, demonstrated by six female members of University Mission & Ministry.

“We decided to make a group to perform for such a good cause,” said Anna Tovar, a senior bilingual communication arts major. “We only had a short amount of time, but we practiced every day and we actually made our own tribal-inspired costumes.”

STAND’s director and founder, UIW junior Robert Rodriguez, introduced the organization before the fashion show.

“What you’re seeing right now is a coalition of amazing people behind me,” Rodriguez said as he pointed to the STAND members surrounding him. “These college students, tonight and as long as they’re involved with STAND, are making a difference in the world. We are one people, one tribe.”

After Rodriguez spoke, the brightly lit runway in the middle of the room came to life, as model after model stomped down it, clothed in various creations by students in UIW’s fashion program. Every garment was created with sustainable or recycled items. Among the array of materials presented were coffee filters, plastic tablecloths, zippers, plastic grocery bags, and even reflective car shades. The African tribes benefitting from the show inspired the models’ bright face paint and braided hair.

STAND, a non-profit organization started at UIW in the spring of 2009, is an acronym for Students Taking Action Now for Darfur. STAND originally advocated against the genocide occurring there. STAND has expanded to one of the largest chapters in the United States and developed into an organization that not only raises awareness, but one that also goes to Africa and actually builds schools and clinics.

With its international aid program, STAND is brought to life in Africa. Their Adopt-a-Village program scouts for villages in need of assistance and with $20,000 built a vocational school, medical clinic, orphanage and water well. If the village already has a water well, the funds go to building a church or library.

This year’s goal of $32,000 will help Mede, a poor jungle village in Uganda located about three hours from the border of Chad and Sudan. The nearest hospital to Mede is three hours away by car – a luxury not owned by Mede’s residents. STAND wants to change this predicament in the coming summer, by building a clinic and school in 2011. If all goes well, the group will return in 2012 to build an orphanage, church or library.

“I just joined STAND in the fall of this year,” said Cristina Alaniz, a senior in international studies. “I think that [STAND] is something great. The group has a lot of ambitions, but you know their work will pay off next year when they take off and execute what they’ve been working towards. This organization is very dedicated.”

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