In approaching TechNews for a potential article idea, African Student Organization (ASO) Service and Outreach Chairperson, as well as Resident Advisor (RA) for the second floor of Fowler Hall within McCormick Student Village (MSV), Bizimungu Obedi relayed to our paper the rather dynamic story of how he more or less accidentally set up a partnership between ASO and St. James Church (located just north of Keating Sports Center at 2907 S Wabash Ave).
Obedi’s story begins earlier in the fall 2018 semester when he was scheduled to accompany a group of his friends to All Saints St. Anthony Catholic Church (located at 518 W 28th Place). On the morning Obedi was supposed to meet with his friends, he stated that he was given “the vaguest of directions: walk towards Keating and we won’t be that far ahead.”
The end result of the vague directions Obedi was given was that “I ended up at the wrong church” and “sat through mass.” After conversing with members of the St. James congregation, Obedi eventually exchanged information with a member named Peter Wawire, “who, surprisingly, is from Kenya and speaks Swahili as I do.” Through Wawire, Obedi set up the foundation for collaboration between St. James and ASO, setting a date of October 13 for the first volunteer collaboration - a food drive for local community members.
On the day of this first volunteer event, Obedi, alongside 12 to 13 other Illinois Tech students from both ASO and Obedi’s floor made their way north to St. James, where they were received warmly by Wawire and several other volunteers from outside Illinois Tech. The volunteers then got to work moving bins, setting up tables, and packing food into bags for distribution. Despite the “FREEZING” weather that Obedi bitterly recalls, he also noted that a very sizeable number of people were lined up for the food drive, even before the volunteers arrived. For several hours, the ASO and Fowler volunteers worked hard to distribute as much food as possible.
After the event, many of the students who volunteered were able to look back at the experience fondly. ASO President Oluwayowa Ige, said that “it was a great experience and I can’t wait for other ASO events like this,” while Secretary Morayo Ogunsina said “giving back is something I love doing, and ASO provided me the platform to do so.” One of Obedi’s residents, Sean Straub, remarked that “it was nice to see a group of students helping out our local community”
After relaying this story to TechNews, Obedi concluded with an open invitation that “ASO and Fowler 2nd do plan on having more events like this and one way for people to find out about them is by emailing African Student Organization at [email protected]. The organization is not limited to just African students. It’s for anybody interested and curious about cultures and people from the continent of Africa.”
Photo courtesy of ASO