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US Rock Band Dispatch Raises Funds To Relieve Poor In Zimbabwe

Proceeds from benefit concerts by the cult rock group Dispatch are funding efforts by the New York-based Elias Fund to relieve AIDS orphans and others in need in the eastern Zimbabwean province of Masvingo.

The Elias Fund has set up a base of operations in Chiredzi from which it is helping orphans and the poverty-stricken as well as organizing community development and education programs. Its assistance is keeping some 300 children in school.

To further fund such efforts, Dispatch has scheduled three shows on July 13, 14 and 15 at Madison Square Garden in New York. Two are already sold out.

Ticket fees of $40 are to go in their entirety to charities charities fighting HIV-AIDS, famine and social injustice in Zimbabwe, the organization said.

Elias Fund Executive Director Eric Byington told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the project aims to empower the country's youth through community development projects that work with AIDs victims and orphans.

The idea of launching Elias Fund came to Dispatch band member Chad Urmstorn on a trip to Zimbabwe in 1994. He befriended a gardener named Elias who later inspired and provided the name for one of the band's most popular songs.

Urmstom said Elias's dream was that his sons Honest and Manuel would one day have the opportunity to pursue higher education.

The group's other two members are Brad Corrigan and Pete Heimbold.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...