|Calvin Awash in Sea of Orange
October 1, 2007
Do you see orange? People on Calvin's campus on September 28 saw a lot of it.
That day, 250 students donned bright orange T-shirts emblazoned with the word "Orphan" to raise awareness for the worldwide AIDS pandemic.
The ratio of Calvin students—1 in 20—wearing the shirts represented 1 in 20 children in sub-Saharan Africa orphaned by the AIDS epidemic.
The event, brought to campus by the International Health and Development club, is part of a national "Do You See Orange?" campaign orchestrated by an AIDS-focused arm of World Vision. The goal of the campaign was not to raise money or host events and lectures, but to send a quick and vital message to all who saw the multitude of orange on campus.
According to sophomore Michelle Fraser from Lakefield, Ontario, the on-campus "Do You See Orange" coordinator, the message the shirts conveyed was clear.
"We are the body of Christ," she said, "and when one part suffers, we all suffer. With the pandemic of HIV/AIDS raging in sub-Saharan Africa and throughout the world, the body is suffering indeed."
With knowledge of this suffering, said Fraser, comes responsibility.
"The process of believing and acting on this is a long one," she said, "and I hope that this event begins to penetrate the shields of disbelief that we surround ourselves with. I don't believe that we can sit idly by and watch our brothers and sisters die once we’ve come to terms with the scope and depth of this tragedy."
Junior Keith Wirrell from Guatemala City, Guatemala, wore his orange shirt, hoping that awareness turns to action on the part of his fellow Calvin students.
"You can't make a difference in the world, whether here or abroad," he said, "unless you're aware of what's going on."
Students learned about the awareness campaign as early as the first week of classes and were eager to become part of the 1 in 20 ratio of students wearing the orange t-shirts.
Senior Carrie Groen from Edina, Minnesota, a member of the International Health and Development club, said that shirts were in high demand at events where the campaign was advertised such as Cokes and Clubs and the Sunday-evening Living Our Faith Together (LOFT) worship service.
"We wanted to maintain the correct ratio of Calvin students wearing the shirts," she said, "so we actually had to put people on a waiting list to get them."
In fact students were willing to pay the $5 charge for the shirts—which covered only the cost of the shirts' production.
Fraser and other members of the International Health and Development club hope to bring a traveling photo exhibit that tells the story of a mother dying of AIDS to Calvin later this year. In the meantime, the club is planning more events to address the AIDS pandemic, including a variety of events during international AIDS week, November 25-December 1.
Senior Heather Guichelaar from Kitchener, Ontario, is hoping that these events motivate some Calvin students to become part of the solution to the AIDS problem.
"This disease is something that's going to really affect the future if we don't do something about it now," she said.
~by Allison Graff, web communications coordinator
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