Live-in against illiteracy Helene Goderis

When you spend long, bleary-eyed hours studying at Robarts, it may sometimes feel as if the library is your second home. For students Afton Chadwick and Lorenzo Somma, the nightmare has become a reality. The two have set up camp on the first floor from Jan. 23 to 30 in support of Live-in for Literacy, an event that raises money to build educational facilities in developing countries in Asia and Africa.

The students forego classes and break for only five minutes every hour. “We put our own educations on hold to help others,” said Chadwick.

An initiative of DREAM (Discovering the Reality of Educating All Minds), Live-in for Literacy was started at Queen’s University in 2005. The organization hopes to raise $20,000 across nine universities towards the construction of a library in an Indian village. It also plans to sponsor 10,000 copies of a book published in the local dialect.

Shopping for volunteer opportunities, Chadwick decided to participate in this untraditional activism after seeing last year’s campers. “This fit my values for education,” she explained. “As a university student, I think educating someone is the greatest gift you can give.”

Five days into the live-in, Chadwick said she and Somma are “feeling good. It’s an adventure for sure.” A small group of volunteers bring them food and supplies while they camp out.

This is the second year U of T has participated in the challenge. Last year, the students raised $3,200. “It’s hard to convince people to give while they’re studying,” said Chadwick, “but the student body overall has been very generous. I really get to see compassion firsthand.”

Students can contribute through straight donation or buy raffle tickets ($2 each or $3 for five) for a gift basket draw. To close the live-in, the group is holding a pub night on Saturday at the Brunswick House ($5 cover), with all proceeds benefiting the cause.

What will Chadwick and Somma do when they pack up their campsite? “I’ll get back to my own studies, and I’ll be back at Robarts studying,” laughed Chadwick. “This will probably be my home for eternity.”

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