"Clean Water, an Informed Campus, and a Philanthropic Fraternity"

Phi Iota Alpha carries 42-pound jugs, spreads UNICEF ÔTap Project'

Since the Iraq War began in 2003, 4,486 American soldiers have died, according to antiwar.com. Four thousand one hundred children die of water-related diseases every day.

UNICEF is on a mission to stop this. Its title: the UNICEF Tap Project. Its goal: clean, easily accessible water for children around the world.

In underprivileged countries, women and children are forced to walk miles for clean water while just $1 can provide it for a person for 40 days, according to UNICEF. The brothers of the Lambda chapter of Phi Iota Alpha (PIA) aim to broaden Tap Project awareness.

The fraternity is spreading its message across UB, Buffalo State College, and the general Buffalo area.

"Our nationals...encouraged us to raise money to help UNICEF," said Bryant Cuadros, a junior health and human services major. "We decided this semester to put our philanthropy into action and not just raise funds but actually show people what the struggle and issue are about."

The jugs weigh 42 pounds, and the fraternity members have been carrying them on their shoulders. In this hot weather, the movement turns into quite a workout.

"It gets pretty tiring and your shoulders hurt, but people see us on campus and they always ask us questions about why we're doing it," said Raymond Duran, a sophomore communication major. "When I get home, I can't imagine a kid that does this without sneakers when it's blazing hot. It makes you grateful for the things you have - simple things like clean water."

Duran has relatives in the Dominican Republic, and he said they have to walk three or four miles to get clean water, while here it is an easily accessed resource that most people take for granted. Duran feels that he is simultaneously supporting a great cause and paying those relatives back by trying to raise awareness and funds.

Manuel Murray, a senior Spanish major, said they get a lot of weird looks, but most people either ask or laugh. Some think they're getting hazed.

Just two weeks ago, the KONY 2012 campaign amassed more than 50 million views in four days. That group aimed to stop abduction of children in Uganda, and college students across the country rose up on social media, sharing the video and spreading the word. While UNICEF is unrelated and the organization isn't specific to one country - branching out to over 90 - the basic objective is the same: protect children. UNICEF has been doing just that.

"Over the past 16 years, more than a billion people have gained access to improved drinking water and sanitation facilities thanks to the efforts of UNICEF and its partners," according to tapproject.org.

In all, 884 million lack access to purified, healthy drinking water.

UNICEF aims to create a world where all children achieve the rights they deserve. The organization's mission statement is on its website.

"UNICEF was created...to work with others to overcome the obstacles that poverty, violence, disease and discrimination place in a child's path," according to the mission statement. "We believe that we can, together, advance the cause of humanity. We advocate for measures to give children the best start in life, because proper care at the youngest age forms the strongest foundation for a person's future."

Celebrities like Lenny Kravitz and Giorgio Armani have endorsed the Tap Project in hopes of reaching a larger audience. The movement began in 2007 in New York City, as inner-city restaurants asked patrons to donate $1 to assist children around the world. Since the program began, it has raised approximately $3 million. This week, from March 19-25, is dubbed World Water Week. PIA has been carrying the jugs all over all week, and will be doing so until the very last day.

To learn more, visit tapproject.org, and to donate, visit bitly.com/lambdatap. PIA's goal is to raise $120 here at UB. The fraternity's national goal is $5,000.

Email: features@ubspectrum.com