The Leadership Committee for Africa gathered recently to reflect on the status of its current endeavors and legacy, as well as to honor a longtime faculty supporter.
LCA, a Culver Girls Academy committee since 2005, made Dr. John Buggeln, director of Culver’s Global Studies Institute, an honorary member of the committee. He is also the father of a former co-chair, Hannah Buggeln `14. LCA faculty sponsor Nancy McKinnis said Buggeln has been “behind the scenes enriching (LCA) and bringing in many speakers over the years (through GSI). We’re extraordinarily grateful for all his work.”
Among related speakers hosted at Culver by GSI in recent years were Kenyan public health advocate John Odeche, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, HIV and AIDS coordinator Davis Omanyo, Zimbabweyan mushroom grower Margaret Tagwira, and Brad Ward of ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization).
Expressing his thanks for the honor, Buggeln told members gathered in Roberts Auditorium for the meeting that, “You have inspired our community and inspired me as an educator.”
The Leadership Committee for Africa was first launched in response to the orphan crisis that resulted from the spread of HIV and AIDS in Africa, according to McKinnis.
“The girls realized that the best way to respond was to educate people about the crisis and connect with organizations doing good work on the ground in Africa,” she explained. They also believed that actually visiting Africa “was key to their learning and serving and this led them to discover Christel House South Africa,” which assists low-income children around the world to become self-sufficient.
CGA students had already connected to the Amani Children’s Foundation, which supports children of parents who have died from AIDS and HIV-positive babies. Over the years, LCA and individual members have raised a significant amount of money through special projects benefiting other organizations as well. LCA members have also made multiple visits to Christel House on the bi-annual Global Pathways Spring trip.
Another current LCA endeavor is the sale of PB Chocomaranth bars through the on-campus Rubin Cafe. Christel House project manager Molly Kubaszyk ‘18 told LCA members the amaranth used in the bar is grown in underdeveloped regions of South America and Africa, and represents a high-protein, hearty grain that grows easily in drought-prone areas of Africa.
Culver’s connection to amaranth relates to the work of Culver resident Dick Dugger, who died last year after years of spearheading efforts to promote and support amaranth in Africa. The vision behind the bars came from McKinnis’ daughter, Mary ’14. Some proceeds from sales support ECHO’s efforts.
“The…bar inspired by Dick and supported by the Seyan/Dugger Fund created a rich 21st century learning laboratory for the Leadership Committee for Africa,” said Nancy McKinnis. “Developed by students in a collaborative work space of their design, the bar is poised to support the mission of ECHO and endorse this unique nutritional grain our students value and enjoy every time they promote or buy it from our student-run Rubin Café.”
In addition to discussion of World AIDS Day, LCA Research and Education co-chair Paige Murphy ’18 (Dhaharan, Saudi Arabia) updated members on the funds raised this school year for LCA projects. As of January, she said, $1,200 was sent to Christel House South Africa from sales of Culver care packages, $1,117 was raised in bead sales, and $166.86 in World AIDS Day ribbon sales, totaling $2,483.86.
Since its 2005 inception, LCA has raised $44,384.96, Amani has been the beneficiary of $29,097.61 (enough to sponsor 29 babies through their first year of life), Christel House $13,926, $700 to Give a Girl a Cow, and the remainder on other related projects.
Angie Strobel `98, a staff sponsor of LCA, updated the members on three-year-old Daniel Kuhani, an abandoned Nairobian child, supported by Amani. He visited Culver last fall while in the United States for cochlear implant surgery to correct his hearing loss. Daniel, said Strobel, was recently adopted by a family in Kenya, which she added is “incredible.”
LCA is divided into four major sub-committees: fund raising, research and education, communications, and work projects. While each committee focuses on separate goals and initiatives, every branch collaborates to pursue LCA’s overarching goal of eliminating AIDS and poverty in Africa. This year’s LCA steering committee chair is Annie Evans ‘17 (Zionsville, Ind.), executive officer is Shannon Klaus ‘17 (St. Joseph, Mich.), and secretary-treasurer is Sahara Chen ‘18 (Zhengzhou, China).