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The Union on Oct. 18, 2018. (FILE)

Fiesta Latina-goers to dance for a good cause

The Ohio University Latino Student Union (LSU) and the Infectious Tropical Disease Institute (ITDI) are collaborating to host a culturally themed celebration Friday, and portions of the proceeds go to an important cause.

Fiesta Latina will be a celebration full of music, dancing and food, and will be hosted by The Union Bar and Grill. Proceeds will go toward a fundraiser to help build a new home for a family in Ecuador that lost its home because of the spread of an infectious disease.

LSU Vice President Eleonor Elias, a senior studying psychology, said the disease called Chagas, or the “kissing bug” disease, has infected much of Ecuador and has caused deaths. The disease makes people’s intestines grow and eventually leads to heart attacks, Elias said. The disease has particularly affected many poorly made houses in Ecuador.

“Obviously families can’t afford their own homes, so ITDI raises money for the houses and even goes to Ecuador to help build them,” Elias said.

Elias said the event will feature a dance night with primarily Latin music. She said that in the past, however, there has not been a wide range of genres played, so the organizers will try to have different genres playing throughout the night.

“Lots of people love it. I think it should be a hit because we have not had one in about two years,” Elias said.

Lori Lammert, IDTI director of operations, said students will go to Ecuador to learn about research through the Tropical Disease Research and Learning Program.

Lammert said the program has built and remodeled six houses in southern Ecuador.

Many houses in Ecuador are not secure, and the insect carrying Chagas disease enters the houses through cracks. She said the “kissing bug” sucks the blood of humans and deposits its feces, which carries a parasite that spreads Chagas disease, onto the skin.

“A lot of diseases can be prevented through new housing,” Lammert said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Chagas disease is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and is only found in the Americas, mainly in places where poverty is widespread.

Fiesta Latina is fundraising specifically to build a home for the Espinoza family in Ecuador. OU students in the Tropical Disease Research and Learning Program will go to help build the house in Ecuador from mid-June to early July.

A portion of the entry proceeds will go toward the construction of the house. On May 4, the two organizations will hold another fundraiser for the same cause at Chipotle Mexican Grill from 4 to 8 p.m.

“I’m glad people are coming together, and will hopefully bring awareness to the cause … people will likely realize the disease impacts millions of people worldwide,” Lammert said.


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