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5/2/2012 3:22:00 PM
Students explore poverty on a global level
St. Mary's Academy photo by Cecily Holtz
Kiah Bacon and Emlyn Foxen were co-chairs of Poverty Awareness Day.
St. Mary's Academy photo by Cecily Holtz
Kiah Bacon and Emlyn Foxen were co-chairs of Poverty Awareness Day.

St. Mary’s Academy students last week learned about everything from fuel-efficient stoves to violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo to how a local sandal business helps women in Uganda go to college. It was all part of the school’s 13th annual Poverty Awareness Day.

Organized and led by students, the day included speakers and student presentations. The school’s anti-slavery committee teamed with Multnomah County Commissioner Diane McKeel and Multnomah County Deputy District Attorney J.R. Ujifusa to address the issue of human trafficking in Portland.

Events went beyond talk. Students made bracelets to raise money for causes. They wrote nearly 400 letters of support to women in the Congo and Somalia and to the Moroccan government protesting a law allowing rapists to escape prosecution if they marry their victim.

“There’s an amazing focus on service at St. Mary’s, but Poverty Awareness Day opens it up to a global awareness,” said Emlyn Foxen, a senior organizer. “It’s a day when you can think really selflessly, and it also kind of shakes you up, and I like that. It was just so rewarding on the day of the event to hear the speakers and to listen to how silent everyone gets listening to them, and to feel how much everyone is feeling.”

It was a moving day for the faculty at St. Mary’s, as well.

"How happy I am to be part of a school that makes awareness of injustice and a commitment to helping those who suffer a priority,” said Maria Fleming, religion teacher and student service coordinator at St. Mary’s Academy.

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