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University of Iowa News Release

June 19, 2003

Congolese Independence Celebration June 28 To Benefit Civil War Victims

A celebration of the Democratic Republic of Congo's 43rd year of independence will help raise funds for the orphans and widows of war. The benefit will take place Saturday, June 28, starting at 7 p.m. at Old Brick, 26 E. Market St., Iowa City. The event is sponsored by the Congolese Association for Social Aid (CASA), a newly recognized University of Iowa student group.

The evening will feature a Congolese fashion show, African dancing including traditional Rumba and modern Ndombolo, a children's show with Congolese children's games, and food and beverages. The program is co-sponsored by UI International Programs, Opportunity at Iowa, and the Office of the Provost.

Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door. Children under 12 are admitted for free. Advance tickets can be purchased via phone or e-mail, 319-351-9759 or All proceeds raised from the event will benefit victims of the ongoing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, specifically orphans and widows.

This central African country, formerly called Zaire, has suffered from strife and civil war, touched off by a massive inflow in 1994 of refugees from the fighting in Rwanda and Burundi. An estimated four million deaths have occurred in the eastern part of the country since armed conflict broke out in August of 1998. Some 350,000 of these deaths were related to wartime violence but, the overwhelming majority were the result of malnutrition and disease, including malaria, diarrhea and HIV/AIDS.

"We have seen the situation in Congo firsthand and how people are suffering, and we are trying to make a difference," says Ben Menghe, CASA public relations officer and a UI alumnus with a business degree. "I am very fortunate to be one of the Congolese to come to this land of opportunity, and I and other Congolese here don't want to forget those left behind. This is one way we can help build awareness and connections and provide support."

Menghe is one of the estimated 50 Congolese living in the local community. About half of those are UI students and scholars and the rest are family members and friends.

The mission of the Congolese Association for Social Aid is to strive to improve the living conditions of Congolese orphans and widows by creating, inspiring and nurturing a standard package of basic and essential needs in terms of food, health care, housing and education. CASA also is dedicated to providing support and guidance to African immigrants so they can be active and effective members of the local community.

For more information or special accommodations to attend this event, call 319-351-9759 or send e-mail to For more information on the Congolese Association for Social Aid, visit their website at

Those who would like to support the cause but who are unable to attend the benefit can send donations to the Congolese Association for Social Aid (CASA), 1803 5th Street, No. 4, P.O. Box 5271, Coralville, Iowa 52241.

International Programs consists of a number of offices, centers, degree programs, academic programs, research projects and services that serve to further internationalize the campus and community and promote global scholarship, research and teaching.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

CONTACT(S): Media: Lois Gray, 319-335-2026, Program: Ben Menghe, or call 358-8838