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Students, faculty continue to support Haiti

Amanda Gray | Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Eyes on Africa Foundation, the charity founded by senior Jeff Lakusta, is branching out to aid the relief effort in Haiti.

Eyes on Africa Helps Haiti, an outlet of the Eyes on Africa Foundation, is donating funds raised through wine sales, founder of Eyes on Africa Jeff Lakusta, a senior, said.

“We started it in response to the crisis in Haiti as a way to pull aid and draw awareness from our unique group of college-aged supporters,” Lakusta said.

The donations are coming from wineries that have agreed to donate a portion of proceeds from each case of wine sold to Eyes on Africa Helps Haiti and Helps International, a nonprofit organization that works in Latin American, Lakusta said.

“I felt drawn to the crisis in Haiti. Eyes on Africa has an incredible network of socially-conscious people who understand the power of getting involved — our trouble was coming up with a unique way to help,” Lakusta said. “People only want to donate so much.  Now, all we’re asking is that people direct their purchases to a cause.”

The funds will provide food, shelter and clean water to earthquake victims.

The wineries will continue donating proceeds through the end of April.

Indiana wineries donating a portion of the sales are Bacchus Imports, Cecchetti Wine Co., Lion Nathan USA, Precept Brands and Rainier Wine.

“Essentially, Eyes on Africa Helps Haiti allows people a new way to help this incredibly worthy cause,” Lakusta said. “We’ve gotten some flak for branching out in response to the earthquake, but in the true spirit of Ubuntu, it only makes sense that we would respond to the crisis.”

“Ubuntu,” or the interconnectedness of humanity, is the core philosophy of Eyes on Africa.
Lakusta founded Eyes on Africa in 2007 after a trip to South Africa. Lakusta and other college students have since used the organization as a springboard to develop and fund aid projects in needy areas of Africa.

“Eyes on Africa felt drawn to leverage its base of support in an effort to help those affected by the earthquake in Haiti,” Lakusta said.

Eyes on Africa also recently won a $25,000 grant from Chase Community Giving, a competition hosted on Facebook by JP Morgan Chase Bank. Eyes on Africa competed against more than 500,000 other charities to land in the top 100.