Bringing the World to WWU Student Campaign Brings Africa a Little Closer

March 01, 2008 | Sarah Radelfinger

Most Northwesterners would probably classify a continent such as Africa as a world away. Thanks to Walla Walla University students—especially one young man—this continent can seem like a part of the WWU backyard.

Lwazi (pronounced LAH-wah-zee) Moyo-McCune, a 21-year-old accounting and finance major, was born in Hwange, a town in Southern Zimbabwe. Before being adopted by missionaries, civil and political strife tainted Moyo-McCune's childhood, eventually forcing him to leave the country.

In Zimbabwe, there is a clash between the Zanu-pf and the Movement for Democratic Change (M.D.C.) political parties. President Mugabe and his dictatorial regime took money, food, and land from the Zimbabwean people, leaving the country in economic and financial instability.

"Zimbabwe is suffering and I want [the people there] to know there is something better than living under oppression," states Moyo-McCune.

Moyo-McCune's story brought the Zimbabwean crisis directly to the WWU campus. WWU's chapter of Amnesty International and the associated student body, teamed up to raise awareness and funds for Zimbabwe, a project they called Mission: Zimbabwe. With a goal of $15,000 U.S. dollars, both clubs encouraged students to make an impact beyond the community.

The funds raised will benefit the Murwira Orphanage directed by Paula Leen, the 2006 Woman of the Year for Lifetime Achievement, an award given by the Association of Adventist Women. Leen will use the money for her food program, which feeds 300 children daily. It will also assist in much-needed medical supplies, education and general maintenance of the orphanage.

"The first fact I learned about Zimbabwe was it costs $1,000,000 Zimbabwe dollars for a loaf of bread and the average teacher's salary is only $10,000,000," says senior international business major Janelle Walikonis, Amnesty president. "It took me just a couple minutes on the Internet to decide this needed to be our project."

Fundraising events included a date auction, in which single WWU students were auctioned off to student bidders, and the Zwim Meet, an event requiring swimmers to have sponsors.

Currently, more than $28,000 U.S. dollars have been raised toward Mission: Zimbabwe, and money is still coming in.

"I am amazed at how the students and university community have responded to Mission: Zimbabwe," says Walikonis. "It made the situation so real to have a student who knew firsthand what the situation was there."

Moyo-McCune was in seventh grade when President Mugabe came to visit his classroom. Mugabe threatened the students, demanding that they help the government or their families would die.

"I was very scared—I wanted to just take my family and leave Zimbabwe," says Moyo-McCune.

Unfortunately, that was not an option. Many students were forced to become child soldiers.

"Young children were trained to run carrying weapons and were desensitized with drugs. They'd often attack farmers at night and were told to 'do whatever it takes' to get them off their land," recalls Moyo-McCune.

After being adopted by an American missionary family, Moyo-McCune attended Upper Columbia Academy. He heard about WWU from a close friend and decided to attend. Today, Moyo-McCune is a junior and hopes to go into corporate banking and finance.