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August 2, 2004

No one can forget the devastating headlines and images from 2005. Tsunamis, hurricanes, earthquakes and mudslides wreaked havoc in distant locations and right here at home. Unlike the devastation associated with these catastrophic events that captured the world's attention, starvation silently continues to threaten millions and claim thousands of lives in parts of Africa.

The crisis in East Africa has provided one UGA professor with an opportunity to engage her public administration students beyond the stale routine of lectures, handouts and exams. Part of Professor Vicky Wilkins' approach to teaching is to enhance what goes on inside the classroom by engaging students in common efforts outside the classroom.

One such effort already underway is appropriately named EweGA Cares. It involves providing pregnant sheep to families in East Africa. Although it may sound odd to our affluent ears, this animal may be the difference between poverty and prosperity in East Africa by providing food and a renewable source of income for a family in need.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reports that 25 countries in Africa are in a state of food emergency. In East Africa, a severe and unexpected drought is threatening nearly 23 million people, destroying their crops and endangering the livestock that sustains them. As experts point out, the hunger crisis goes beyond finding enough to eat in the near term. The real challenge is long-term sustainability-educating people on techniques for growing food, livestock recovery and methods for generating income year-round. The sheep, and the education that comes with it, helps combat this problem.

Wilkins describes public service projects as win-win situations. "Not only are the students helping families in need, they are learning about each other and the global community, developing a keen understanding of international issues, and learning first-hand the phases and challenges of implementing a project or policy from start to finish," explained Wilkins.

The students involved see this project as a way to put their education and commitment to public service to work. "Because we are working on a degree in public administration, we intend to work in public service. This project really demonstrates what it is to serve others," said Anisa Jimenez.

On April 19, Wilkins and her students will be collecting donations around campus for the purchase of pregnant sheep in partnership with the nonprofit organization CARE. At a cost of $340 per ewe, Wilkins and her students are hoping to raise enough money provide several families with a sheep.