Hope and Help
Student humanitarian organizations on campus increase. By Virginia Van de Wall '12 and Monica Watson '12
Ithaca College has over 150 student-run organizations on campus, and that number continues to increase with each passing year. This semester, several new humanitarian organizations have formed, reflecting students’ increased awareness of existing problems within the community and the rest of the world. Through these efforts, Ithaca students work to better their education, raise money to help those in need, and provide emotional support to individuals in crisis. Three of the new groups on campus this year are profiled belo
To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) is a national organization working to raise awareness about suicide, depression, self-abuse, and addiction. According to suicide.org, suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students, and the number one cause of suicide is untreated depression. Knowing this, Meghan Rindfleisch ’12 and Christine Evans ’11 decided to found the TWLOHA chapter at Ithaca College, which is one of 15 university chapters in the United States.
“We don’t say we’re going to cure anything,” Evans, vice president of the group, says. “We’re the bridge between the people who need help and where they can get help.” The group builds community around campus through various events. One of these events, known as the To Write Love on Her Arms Day, also held by the national organization, encourages people to write “love” anyplace on their arms. “Love” written across the arm is meant to signify the healing power of commitment and compassion.
Campus Kiva is a student-organized affiliate of the nonprofit, microlending Kiva organization. Kiva’s mission is to help ease poverty by connecting lenders with people in developing countries who need loans. Kiva partners with microfinance institutions stationed all over the world to identify small entrepreneurs and other individuals who would benefit from financial assistance. The field partners upload profiles of these people to the Kiva website so that lenders can browse and select whom they want to finance. The purpose of the Ithaca College Kiva chapter is to encourage individuals affiliated with the College to lend together as a community for the same purpose.
“Campus Kiva takes down geographic, language, and cultural barriers to connect people who need help with people who can give it,” says president Samuel Patton ’12. “It is a way to give a hand-up rather than a handout to someone specific. Nothing we do in the so-called developed world is possible without finance. This is simply finance on a much smaller scale.”
So far, Campus Kiva helped contribute to a loan to a group of four women in the Siem River province in Cambodia. Heing Laiheang and Kon Salad will use their loan to pay for house repairs. Toeuy Bunthoeun intends to use the loan to improve her porridge trade, and Kroch Yat plans to increase inventory for her business.
The TOMS One for One Movement combines consumerism and humanitarianism. For every pair of shoes purchased from TOMS, a pair is given to a child in need. The purpose of the Ithaca College chapter is to educate others about people around the world who cannot attain the simplest of items such as a pair of shoes.
Jay Salbert ’12, president of the IC chapter of TOMS, says that students can become sheltered in the academic set-ting, and helping others can become less of a priority.
“We start to worry too much about finishing a certain reading or homework assignment that we forget there’s a world outside our doors with problems bigger than the ones we’re facing,” he says. “People sometimes don’t understand why giving shoes to someone would be worthwhile, and that’s why we’ve started the club. We’re trying to give hope to the hopeless.”
The first TOMS’ event at IC was One Day Without Shoes, held on April 8. The group asked classmates to go the day, or part of the day, barefoot to see what it’s like to live without shoes. Over a quarter million TOMS’ supporters around the world participated in the event.
“I honestly cannot imagine living every day of my life without shoes and being so exposed to cuts and infections,” says Salbert.