CLU students and local residents have the opportunity to participate in the Walk to End Genocide, which will raise money for genocide survivors in African countries, such as Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The Jewish World Watch (JWW) organization will host the Conejo Valley Walk to End Genocide on Sunday, May 5, which will begin at the Temple Etz Chaim in Thousand Oaks.
JWW hopes to raise $10,000 during this walk and will use that money to fund various projects like the solar cooker project, which allows women to stay in the safety of refugee camps by providing them solar energy to cook their meals, according to the JWW website.
Registration for the walk is $12, but those who are unable to walk are encouraged to make at least a $5 donation, said Belle Michael, rabbinic intern for campus ministry.
“I believe it’s important for each of the students to take action, to be an [active participant], not a bystander and to be aware of what is going on in the world and do something about it,” said Michael. “Here’s an opportunity to make a difference. It’s a small contribution from each one of us, but yet the overall impact is enormous.”
Michael started a California Lutheran University team for the walk and hopes to gather at least 40 walkers and raise $800.
“I believe this is not a Jewish cause; it is not a Hillel cause. It’s a global cause; it’s a humanitarian cause, and we here as students of CLU should be aware of it,” said Michael. “We can be active, and this is our opportunity to really make a difference by showing up and contributing to the walk.”
Survivors who need food, water and shelter will get them through the money raised, said Michael.
“It’s like they’re forgotten people. It’s a forgotten war and nobody really cares, but they are humans and they are being killed, and those who survive die out of starvation,” said Michael. “Here’s something that we can do and it is very important.”
Campus ministry first heard about the walk through Michael and decided to sponsor it because of the service it will provide to genocide survivors, said CLU Rev. Melissa Maxwell-Doherty.
“Our mission in the university talks about raising leaders who are committed to service and justice, and this is a service and justice component of our mission and the way we live out our identity of who we are at California Lutheran University,” said Maxwell-Doherty.
Maxwell-Doherty is helping promote the event through the campus ministry Facebook page and participating in the walk.
“It will be fun to spend the time walking with Belle and other students who will be there and, as a Lutheran pastor, to work in solidarity with my Jewish neighbors is very important to me,” said Maxwell-Doherty. “It’s the way I live out my faith.”
First-year student and president of the Hillel Club Alexander Irvin is one of the three registered members of the CLU team.
He has been part of other community services, but this is the first one he will be raising money for, he said.
“It’s a universally good cause. There are no barriers here and we’re not doing a lot of heavy work,” said Irvin. “You’re just coming, enjoying a nice walk while raising money.”
To register or donate, visit www.walktoendgenocide.org.
Published May 1, 2013