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Dinner, raffle to benefit Kenyan children orphaned by AIDS crisis

ATHENS, Ohio (March 29, 2004) -- A benefit dinner and raffle to raise funds for the Kenyan Children's Fund will take place Wednesday, March 31, at 6 p.m. in room 199, Irvine Hall, on the Ohio University campus in Athens. The Kenyan Children's Fund is a group of students and faculty organizations dedicated to supporting children affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Kenya.

"The money raised will be used to purchase school uniforms for approximately 600 orphaned children. Kenyan children are required to purchase uniforms in order to attend school. Although uniforms only cost from $5 to $8, this amount of money is over half what most caregivers make in a month," said Gillian Ice, Ph.D., assistant professor of social medicine at the university's College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Ice has researched and lectured on the profound effect the pandemic crisis has had on economic and social life in the African country.

"The elders that care for orphaned children -- typically their grandchildren -- in this region of Kenya support an average of four children; some care for up to 10 children. With many mouths to feed, uniforms and clothing are often a last priority, yet education is critical in the fight against the devastating HIV/AIDS epidemic," Ice added.

The dinner will feature a panel discussion led by Ohio University alumnus Jaja Yogo, as well as a dance performance by Sankofa.

Suggested donations for the dinner are $5 for students and $10 for faculty, staff and community members. Tickets for the dinner and the raffle can be purchased in advance by contacting Ice at (740) 593-2128, or from Cheri McFee, 304 Grosvenor Hall, or Acacia Nikoi, 307 Research and Technology Center. Tickets for the dinner will be available from noon to 1 p.m. on March 29, 30 and 31 in the Irvine Hall lobby. Raffle tickets will also be available in the Irvine Hall lobby those days.

"The raffle is a great way to contribute to these children while also being able to reap a reward that night as well," she said.

Among the raffle prizes are several two-night hotel stays including Boston, Atlanta, Lexington, New Orleans, Montreal and a "Millionaires Weekend" at the Sheraton Music City in Nashville and two nights at Our Lucaya Beach and Golf Resort in the Bahamas. Raffle tickets are $5. The drawing will take place after dinner; it is not necessary to be present in order to win.

Kenya is one of the nine countries most affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic, according to UNAIDS/WHO (the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and World Health Organization). A report by UNAIDS/WHO in 2000 estimated there were 2.1 million Kenyans infected and that more than one-half million children had been orphaned as a result of deaths from AIDS.

The dinner and raffle is sponsored by the fund, National Osteopathic Women Physicians Association, Student Osteopathic Medical Association, International Medicine Club, Christian Medical and Dental Association, Department of Social Medicine, The Institute for the African Child, Iceworks Building and Remodeling, and Larry Conrath Realty. Raffle prizes are provided by local businesses.

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Media Contact: Writer/editor Kevin M. Sanders, (740) 593-0896

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