Saturday, October 16, 2021

Sign of the times

International studies senior Ros Meerdink poses with a donation collection jar while her housemates at Vesta Housing Cooperative, 505 M.A.C. Ave., hold a mock dance party in the living room. Rosamond collected about $785 at her recent party. The donations will be used to aid women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, whose flag can be seen in the background.

Photo by Sean Cook | The State News

Chances are the last party you went to charged $5 a cup, probably to cover the cost of drinks. Thanks to international studies senior Ros Meerdink, however, last Friday at the Vesta Cooperative House, 505 M.A.C. Ave., the $5 donation requested at the door will be going to buy organic food waste presses for Congolese women.

Meerdink and her twin brother Jordan started brainstorming the idea of a fundraiser for Congolese women last year after hearing about the benefits that the presses bring to the villages.

The presses, which cost about $170, are used to create fuel briquettes from food and compost waste such as peels and corncobs, which are then used as cooking fuel.

“This protects them from deforestation because women don’t have to cut in the forest,” Ros Meerdink said.

Using the presses also protects the women from sexual assault in the forest as they often travel many miles away through dangerous woods, Ros Meerdink said.

The Meerdinks’ older brother Ned, who has lived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo on and off for about three years, lives with the women who will be receiving the presses.

The women, who Ned refers to as “The Mamas,” also can sell the briquettes for money, giving them a steady source of income.

Although the U.S. economy has students in East Lansing strapped for cash, Ros Meerdink said the $5 donation, “could buy anything you wanted” at a market in Congo.

The donation total from the party topped $785. With the help of Ned Meerdink, the women will receive all of the money within the week.

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