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Diverse dinner aids needy

Rohan Anand | Monday, October 30, 2006

McGlinn Hall’s first Meal of Nations event filled more than just stomachs Sunday – it also filled a need to raise money and awareness to benefit Our Lady of Fatima Parish in Hondo Valle, Dominican Republic.

The event was hosted by the Vietnamese Students Association, the Filipino American Students Organization, the African Students Association (ASA), the Hawaii Club and the Caribbean Students Association.

The campus-wide event hailed exotic food from all of these cultural organizations and seemed to promote its cause in a unique way, said junior Lauren Gamboa, McGlinn’s multi-cultural commissioner.

“We gave patrons the opportunity to enjoy dishes ranging from Malawi Chicken from the ASA to Hal Pio from the Hawaii Club,” she said. “There were also dance presentations from the Hawaiian and Filipino groups.”

The purpose carries additional significance for McGlinn Hall because its rector, Sister Mary Lynch, SSJ, visited Our Lady of Fatima a few years ago and saw it as a huge anchor for a poverty-stricken community in a third-world country.

“The Parish [at Our Lady of Fatima] offers services that the Dominican government doesn’t offer or charges more than the people can afford,” she said. “Twenty-thousand people are part of the parish, and they’re divided into small groups called, ‘campos,’ each of which contain a spiritual leader.”

Posters in the 24-hour lounge of McGlinn contained pictures and descriptions of the Church’s outreach program. A wide range of services are available to them, including involvement in the sacramental life, discovering new water sources, education and community farming.

Lynch is also a friend of Sister Jean Reilly, CSJ, of the St. Joseph Parish in Philadelphia, who is organizing a pharmacy and grocery store in Hondo Valle. The store, also a part of the Church’s outreach, will receive the proceeds from the Meal of Nations.

“The store will only charge its customers three percent of the costs,” Lynch said. “So that people can afford to buy any grocery items whenever they need it. Many grocers in the Dominican Republic only sell certain products when they exist in excess.”

McGlinn Hall President junior Taryn Lewis felt the event “brought authenticity to McGlinn” and was pleased with its success.

“Our residents and other Notre Dame students are really getting a feel for the situation down in the Dominican Republic and we’re really happy to be involved,” she said.

The cultural groups, such as the ASA, were also glad that their contributions – such as preparing Cameroonian Poulet du directeur general (Chicken of the CEO) – put them on the map.

“We’re a really quiet organization on campus,” said sophomore club member Theophilus Ossei-Anto, from Ghana, “but our connections with [Gamboa] and the help of McGlinn are getting our voice out on campus, and we’re also glad to be a help in any way that we can.”