By Emily Hostetler
Rafiki Wa Afrika (Rafiki), Ohio Wesleyan’s African and Caribbean culture club, is preparing for the Feb. 15 date auction, its first fundraiser of the semester.
The auction’s proceeds will go to the Ghana Student Education Fund (GSEF).
“GSEF is a charity organization started by two OWU students that helps pay for a student’s education in Ghana, (west) Africa,” said junior Alisa Nammavong, president of Rafiki.
According to the GSEF website, the fund was founded in 2006 by Ghanaian students Stan Osei-Bonsu ‘09 and Nick Oteng ‘09. Rafiki receives funding through the Wesleyan Council on Student Affairs, so all of the money raised at their events can go to the GSEF.
Freshman Osami Garba, Rafiki public relations chair, said she is excited for the date auction and raising money for GSEF.
“I think it’s a good cause and we are helping students in need,” she said. “I’m also excited to see who is going to buy who.”
Garba said she is hoping to have at least 20 date auction participants, 10 women and 10 men.
In 2006, Oteng and Osei-Bonsu organized OWU’s Global Outreach Show to educate the community about the genocide in Darfur. The benefit show made over $1,800 that was split between Darfur and establishing the GSEF.
According to the GSEF website, “The fund believes that sponsoring a brilliant but needy child with leadership potential from primary education all the way to the end of their tertiary education (university) will make a greater impact than providing a one year scholarship.”
Rafiki raises money for the GSEF through the Global Outreach Show and other events.
“Last year we rose over $500 for two girl students to attend school,” Nammavong said.
According to Nammavong, the money goes toward uniforms, school supplies and anything else the students might need.
“This is something we intend to keep alive because it is so important for the people,” she said. “We pay for their education.”
Although the events have been largely successful in the past, senior Jacqueline Osei-Bonsu said the club might vary some of its events.
“We are trying to change around and adapt some events for our audience in the hope of more people being present at them, because we really would love it if everyone did come and enjoy what we have to offer,” she said.
While Rafiki’s philanthropy may be one of its largest responsibilities, Garba said the club is like a second family.
“Everyone is really nice and really want us freshmen to feel at home,” she said. “They are all open-minded and heartwarming. I know it’s cliché, but it’s true.”
Garba said there are people from Vietnam, Jamaica, Ghana and other places around the world in the club.
“I’m Nigerian, so I thought it would be really good to be friends with people who have the same background as me,” she said. “It’s not just knowing where I’m from but, others too.”
Rafiki allows students of all backgrounds to attend meetings and events dealing with African culture, and to raise awareness for the GSEF.
Nammavong said Rafiki’s members gain a sense of family and purpose.
“Rafiki is a way to connect to people who are already from there,” she said.
“It helps people adjust to living in the states by meeting people who understand what they’re going through.”
Osei-Bonsu said she hopes the student body understands Rafiki’s message of family.
“To me, Rafiki Wa Afrika, apart from its original meaning–‘Friends of Africa’–in Swahili, means family,” she said. “They are people who are open to new ideas and are accepting and very loving.”