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Fighting Hunger with Music

Sunday concert at BU Central will raise money for families in Niger


Anna Falkovich (UNI'11) (left), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (CAS'11), and Matt Boslego (CAS'11) drum for Niger. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Nearly half of the population of the West African country of Niger is facing starvation from one of the worst famines in its history. With 80 percent of its land area covered by the Sahara Desert, the nation already has the world’s lowest Human Development Index. The current famine has created a devastating humanitarian crisis. On Sunday evening, September 19, BU students are sponsoring a concert to raise money to provide food relief.

“When I heard that 12 million Nigerians were starving due to famine, I knew I had to do something,” says Jonathan Remple (CAS’10). President and founder of the fundraising initiative Niger Food Relief, Remple organized SOUL FOOD: Famine Relief Concert, which will take place on Sunday at BU Central.

The event will feature some of BU’s best performers, including Micah, Sun Cut Flat, Speak for Yourself, DJ Supersillyus, and Greyscale. Free food from Kelly’s, Upper Crust, and Boston Pizza Express will be served as well. “We wanted to create a time where the BU community could see what great music and spoken word comes from BU students,” says Remple, “while also offering a chance to share information about the famine in Niger.”

All the proceeds from the event will purchase grain locally for starving families through the grassroots Nigerian NGO Nomad Foundation. The foundation, established 12 years ago, strives to help the nation’s nomad population balance cultural traditions with economic opportunity.

Remple says that he chose to work with Nomad because of its outstanding work and its transparency, which he believes larger organizations cannot provide. “I can tell you where your dollar is being spent,” he says. “When you donate, you’re not paying for large caravans to transport huge sacks across the desert roaming for nomads.” Instead, Nomad founder Leslie Clark buys the grain at local festivals and those in need receive it directly from her.

Niger Food Relief has already raised $11,500, feeding more than 3,600 victims of the famine. Remple says student support of the concert will increase that number.

“I think it’s something that BU kids will really get behind,” he says. “The event is going to inspire by showcasing great music as well as the efforts of BU students to improve the world.”

The SOUL FOOD: Famine Relief Concert is on Sunday, September 19, at 7 p.m. at BU Central, GSU lower level, 775 Commonwealth Ave. Admission is $5 for BU students with ID and $8 for the general public.

More information on Niger Food Relief can be found here.

Tom Vellner can be reached at tvellner@bu.edu; follow him on Twitter at @tomgvellner.

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