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Junior’s charity funds African improvements

Amanda Gray | Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Eyes on Africa has been up to a lot in its short time, according to junior Jeff Lakusta, the University’s campus coordinator for the foundation.

Eyes on Africa is a government-recognized non-profit foundation committed to helping poverty-stricken areas of South Africa, according to the Foundation’s Web site.

“We started about one and a half years ago, and since our founding we’ve raised more than $80,000,” Lakusta said.

Now, more than 30 schools are a part of the “Campus Coordinator” system, Lakusta said.

“Basically they serve as reps to the organization, raising funds, recruiting volunteers, and spreading awareness about our causes,” Lakusta said.

The Othandweni Orphanage, the initial focus of the Foundation, is still in need of help, according to the Foundation’s Web site. The orphanage, which won awards for its innovation, still has unmet needs, which the Foundation attempts to offset with donations.

The Foundation’s most current project is building an eco-friendly housing development in Stanford Hills Community in Africa. The current buildings are in great disrepair, Lakusta said.

“We’ve banded together with several other nonprofits for the project,” Lakusta said. “The BCAC (Black Cultural Arts Council) Fashion Show was actually our first fundraiser for the project.”

One hundred acres of newly rezoned land will be put aside for permanent buildings, said Lakusta.

Eyes on Africa recently helped fund the Rupara Community Center along with the Peace Corps, Lakusta said.

“The idea behind the Community Center is to provide a distraction to some of the negative life choices that can be detrimental to one’s health like drugs, alcohol, and sexual activity,” said Lakusta.

After completion, the Center will be available for the community to learn about HIV/AIDS and other diseases, Lakusta said.

“We also expect youth to participate in after-school activities to prevent them from visiting shebeens [local bars] and not joining other activities detrimental towards a fruitful future,” Lakusta said.

Donations can be made and merchandise can be purchased through the Foundation’s Web site.

On May 24, the Foundation will send a group to South Africa, and many are welcome, said Lakusta. Lakusta can be contacted on the Foundation’s Web site.