African Soiree Auction: “Ballerinas”

This painting by Rhinold Lamar Ponder is one of the items to be auctioned at the auction for the African Soiree, held at the Princeton Theological Seminary Mackay Center on Saturday, March 1, 5 to 8 p.m. It will benefit the United Front Against Riverblindness ( For tickets, or call 609-688-9979.

Michele Tuck-Ponder, a member of the mission team from Princeton United Methodist church, will call the live auction of items. In the auction are also a framed needlepoint picture yby Susan Lidstone, specially designed copper bracelet from Randi Forman of Nassau Street-based Forest Jewelers, a needlepoint picture, a quilt that Tuck-Ponder made from African fabric. Aruna Arya, owner of the Palmer Square-based fashion store Zastra , will donate one of her designs. Elsie McKee will contribute items made by a Congo-based charity, Woman, Cradle of Abundance. A professor at Princeton Theological Seminary and a member of Witherspoon Street Presbyterian Church, McKee is in charge of local arrangements and the African market.  

More than one-third of the 60 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo are at risk for getting riverblindness. Caused by a parasite and transmitted by the black flies that live near the river, the disease takes two lives – the life of the adult who goes blind, and of the sighted child who must leave school to be the caretaker. The medicine is provided free by Merck & Co., but the distribution is a challenge. Using a community-directed approach that involves villagers who are appointed by their village chief, UFAR is able to treat more than two million persons each year. Annual treatment for each person in required for ten years to eliminate the disease.

UFAR is an African-inspired, Lawrenceville-based nonprofit charitable organization that aims, in partnership with other organizations, to eradicate onchocerciasis, a major public health problem in the Kasongo region of the DRC (

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