Fairfield Students Organize "To Swazi with Love."
More than 100 care packages were put together by Fairfield University students and sent to caregivers of people living with HIV and AIDS in Swaziland for a project called "To Swazi With Love."
Of the African country’s population of 1.1 million, about 200,000 people live with HIV. The care packages included medical and hygiene items for the compassionate care of them.
Chrystie A. Cruz, Assistant Director of Student Diversity Programs, said the endeavor involved the efforts of more than 100 people on campus, with assistance from Residence Life, Campus Ministry, Student Diversity Programs, and Student Programs & Leadership Development. Fairfield United — compromised of 10 different cultural and infinity clubs — played a vital role. “The care packages included such important day to day items as soap, wash cloths, ointments and book bags because many caregivers have to travel far into town for these things,” Cruz said.
The service project was the idea of Camile Gomes, of Bridgeport, Conn., a senior majoring in chemistry and music management. She was inspired to initiate the endeavor after attending an InterVarsity Christian Missions Conference called Urbana 12, where she had the opportunity to participate in the World Vision Caregiver Kit Assembly event. She assembled medical kits to send to Swaziland, Nigeria, and other developing countries where there are thousands of AIDS sufferers.
“It was a powerful experience for me to learn about how selfless and loving these caregivers were along with the dire need for assistance in these countries,” said Gomes, president of the Commuter Club. “After that, God put it in my heart to bring this event back to Fairfield and so I did.”
The three-part project on campus also included an HIV/AIDS expert panel discussion, and an informational session on Swaziland where HIV is a major challenge for families. Thousands of children have been left orphaned by the crisis.
For Gomes, the experience ultimately turned out to be a way for students to realize that helping others can be empowering for everyone involved. “If students walked away from ‘To Swazi with Love’ feeling like they could change the world, then I succeeded,” she said.