ND Fighting NTDs is a student-run group from the University of Notre Dame. This week marks their second annual ND Fighting NTDs Awareness Week. Below is a blogpost authored by Eileen Lynch, Publicity Chair for ND Fighting NTDs, detailing how far the group has come during the past year, and what this year’s NTD Awareness Week will bring:
By Eileen Lynch
Since I first posted a year ago, ND Fighting NTDs has grown exponentially and accomplished so much more than we ever hoped. We first started our little club on campus with a two pronged mission: we hoped to raise awareness, to educate people about Neglected Tropical Diseases, and we hoped also to raise money to combat the diseases. So far, we’ve had incredible success.
When we first introduced the NTD issue on the Notre Dame campus we constantly fielded questions along the lines of ‘what does that stand for?’ and ‘are they really neglected if you have a club for them?’ as well as comments about how cheery the name sounded (!). These days, I find myself facing these comments less and less, but people still don’t comprehend the full scope of devastation and pain caused by the diseases.
In response, ND Fighting NTDs started off Awareness Week 2011 with two intense informational events. The first, an outdoor documentary screening on the main quad of campus, featured two fantastic films from the BBC Survival Series: “Distant Places, Forgotten Lives,” and “The Hidden Invaders.” We wanted students to see the faces of these diseases, to get them to realize that NTDs cause physical, visible damage.
To follow up this event, we will host a forum entitled “Diseases of Poverty: A Major Problem, a Problem for Every Major.” This event features a series of short, five minute presentations from faculty in a broad range of disciplines. The forum will focus on how students in all majors have something to contribute to the battle against diseases of poverty, be they English, Business, Psychology, even Theology majors. We want to galvanize the student population, to inspire them to act in response to the information we’ve given them.
The rest of the week is geared toward fundraising; we will be once again selling our popular dirt cups (chocolate pudding, oreos, gummy worms, and NTD facts) and holding a Five Guys Burger and Fries event as well as holding a collection at each Notre Dame dorm’s Sunday mass. Last year, the generosity of the students overwhelmed and inspired us; we hope an aggressive social media campaign and greater name recognition will help us top even last year’s success.
Ultimately, the cause speaks for itself. As students and faculty learn more, they become sucked into the fight, we see this every day and that’s why we keep fighting. Progress has been made and progress will be made, thanks to the incredible community at Notre Dame and around the world. The Fighting Irish are still proud to be part of the fight to end the neglect!