Brightly costumed African dancers will highlight the community-wide African Soiree to benefit the UFAR (United Front Against Riverblindness). The gala will be held on Saturday, March 9, 5 to 8 p.m., in the main lounge of the Mackay Center at Princeton Seminary, 64 Mercer Street. There will be international and American food, a showing of African fashions, a craft fair, and an auction of a handmade quilt. For $60 reservations ($30 for students) contact Susan Lidstone at UFAR@princetonumc.org or 609-699-9979. Offstreet parking is free.

Highlighting the evening will be Garvey School’s Egun Omode, an African-centered school in Trenton; Baye Kemit is the principal. Directed by Makeda Kemit, this troupe celebrates the traditional cultures of West Africa Mali, Guinea, Senegal, and Nigeria (http://www.thegarveyschool.org/).

“I am so happy to welcome the community to our fourth annual African Soiree,” says Dr. Daniel Shungu, founder and executive director of UFAR. “As we enjoy the dancing and drumming and the delicious African meal, we will enable UFAR to keep an entire village from going blind.”

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 one million persons each year.

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 (www.riverblindness.org).