Voices for Justice's Social Justice Week Begins, Benefiting Jesuit School in Africa

Saturday, March 18, 2017
Johnmary Kirangwa

Starting Saturday, Rockhurst University student group Voices for Justice will host a week of activities in celebration of its Social Justice Week.

Through service projects, speakers and events like Karaoke for a Cause and the fair trade fashion show, the group hopes to educate peers on a number of social justice issues.

In addition, they will be raising funds and awareness for a fellow Jesuit school an ocean away — Ocer Campion Jesuit College in Gulu, Uganda. According to the group, Voices for Justice have a goal to raise $8,000 throughout the week that, if met, will be matched by a donor, allowing the school to offer 22 one-year scholarships for students who might not otherwise be able to attend.

Rockhurst University, through its partner institution Research College of Nursing, provides nursing students annually the opportunity to visit Gulu to volunteer at a local medical clinic. In 2014, the University launched a new partnership, sending students to Ocer for a 10-week internship, living on campus and working with students firsthand. The school provides students in the predominantly rural area a place to learn.

Voices for Justice itself also has a unique connection to the school — one of the group’s members is Johnmary Kirangwa, the dean of students for Ocer Campion College, who is currently enrolled in Rockhurst University’s Master of Education program. Kirangwa will share a little bit about the school and its students before Tuesday’s Karaoke with a Cause. He said the school’s mission is to serve a population that still bears the scars of a longstanding conflict.

“There were some great Catholic schools throughout the area before the war,” he said. “And while some of what was destroyed has been physically built back up, the war was devastating in other, lasting ways. A lot of people lost their homes, so there are students who have only known life in refugee camps, there are students who experienced the war, there are even students who were soldiers.”

Kirangwa said he came to the United States after University President the Rev. Thomas B. Curran, S.J., visited Ocer. He said he hopes to take back some of the new lessons that he’s learned from his classes and classroom observation hours to Ocer. He said he believes that with time, the school can have a big impact on the people not just of Gulu, but all of Uganda.

“It’s like preparing the ground for change,” he said. “The word ‘Ocer’ means ‘Christ is Risen.’ There is a lot of metaphoric meaning around things rising again.”

And he said having the support of not only people back home, but at places like Rockhurst, can help fuel that rise.

“It’s exciting to know my sisters and brothers are getting an opportunity and to see people outside Africa who are taking the opportunity to help others outside their country,” he said.

Voices for Justice’s Social Justice Week Events:

  • Throughout the week, Voices for Justice will present “The Humans of Ocer,” showcasing the stories and photos of students from Ocer Campion in the Massman Gallery.
  • Saturday, March 18: Service Day for the Vietnamese-American Community of Greater Kansas City.
  • Sunday, March 19: Student Mass sponsored by Voices for Justice, 6 p.m., St. Francis Xavier Church.
  • Monday, March 20: Ugandan Hunger Banquet, 11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., Massman 250 — students, faculty and staff will experience a typical meal served at Ocer
  • Tuesday, March 21: Karaoke for a Cause, 9 p.m. in Arrupe Hall auditorium — students, faculty and staff members are invited to sing karaoke to raise money for Ocer.
  • Wednesday, March 22: Fair Trade Fashion Show, 9 p.m. in the Rock Room — members of the Rockhurst community will model ethically made clothing from both the United States and beyond.
  • Thursday, March 23: Visiting Scholar Lecture Series: Kristin Heyer, Ph.D., "Civic Kinship: A Christian Ethic for an Era of Migration," 7:30 p.m., Arrupe Hall auditorium.
  • Friday, March 24: Living Stations of the Cross, noon, Finucane Jesuit Center — the Stations of the Cross, with a social justice twist.