As a part of Islamic Awareness Week, the Poetry Slam on Tuesday, March 27, featured activist performers from Suffolk County, New York City and England in the Student Activities Center auditorium. Stony Brook’s United Nations Children’s Fund collaborated with the Muslim Students’ Association in order to raise awareness and money for UNICEF’s Tap Project.
Audience members enjoyed the fusion of the Islamic culture and global issues that UNICEF works to correct. “We chose to work closely with UNICEF in organizing this event because one of the most integral parts of Islam is caring for the poor and less fortunate,” Adam Ranginwala, vice president for MSA, said.
“While the event was an Official TAP Project/Islamic Awareness Week program, the performers were only required to shed light on the global water crisis. As it turned out, all of our performers were Muslim, which was entirely coincidental,” David Ali, president of SB UNICEF, said.
The call to the sunset prayer for Muslims was also scheduled for the beginning of the event and many members from the clubs and audience went on the stage or in the back of the room for prayers.
Taruna D. Sadhoo, an officer of Volunteer and Community Partnerships for UNICEF, followed the prayer by giving a presentation about UNICEF’s missions and the Tap Project. The Tap Project was started in 2007 in New York City to raise money for UNICEF’s efforts across the globe to bring millions of children the means for access to clean water according to their website. The concept was to have restaurants suggest that their customers donate one dollar for the free tap water they receive with the money going to the Tap Project.
SBU is among 125 colleges that fundraise for UNICEF efforts like the Tap Project. The project has raised almost $3 million in the United States to provide clean drinking water to children since its inception in 2007. SBU also claims the number two spot for most money raised on a college campus for UNICEF efforts, according to Sadhoo.
“A lot of progress has been made, and a lot of progress still has to be made,” Sadhoo said. She also thanked the audience for “being agents of change.”
“I’m from Brooklyn. This is a stick-up,” Gareth Bryant said after the performance of his poem “The Narrative of a Victim” in order to garner donations for the Tap Project.
“All of us here tonight have the opportunity to save lives,” Bryant said in regards to the stewardship of Muslims. “We really need to step it up.”
SBU alumnus Sayed Bhuiyan, also gave a short talk about how in the Islamic faith charity, as one of the five pillars of Islam, is correlated with the Tap Project. “Giving charity makes sure you don’t fall in love with the material items,” Bjuiyan said. He asked the audience to tell five more people about the information presented and what they learned.
“I thought it was really moving, both for UNICEF and the creative side. There’s a lot of talent,” GraceAnne Taylor, sophomore marine science major, said. “It was a really eye-opening on all aspects.” Taylor came to the Poetry Slam because she is a writer herself and has an interest in creative writing.
According to Ali, $566 for the Tap Project was raised through the Poetry Slam, and Ranginwala reported raising $300.
“Our audience’s satisfaction has always been the determining criteria for ‘how well’ we did, and I think it is safe to say that everyone had a great time,” Ali said.